Just before flying out to Slovakia Red Bull called and asked me if I wanted to attend an event in Richmond with a kayak ramp. I had never been off a ramp in my kayak and didn't want to embarrass myself in front of 25,000 people so I turned them down. Next my team manager called and told me the city really wanted me there and that he would appreciate it if I would attend. I told him if he didn't mind me landing on my head every time and I'd do it.
After getting back from Slovakia I had 4 days of training for some upcoming races before flying to Richmond for the event. About an hour after getting off the plane I found myself looking down a 30 foot ramp with a big kicker at the bottom of it. To complicate things even more I learned the water was only about 3 feet deep. I figured the next day I would train on the ramp as long as I needed to to attempt to avoid humiliating myself.
The next day I showed up at the ramp about 2 hours before prelims to attempt to figure the ramp out. My plan was to work on a move that I thought wouldn't hurt me to badly when I crashed. I figured a back loop going down the ramp backwards would be a good place to start. As I started to slide down the ramp I realized I'd be going a lot faster than I anticipated. When I hit the kicker at the bottom of the ramp it shot me about 25 feet through the air and I landed on my head. To add insult to injury the next guy to go down the ramp did a beautiful kick-flip and landed perfectly. After my first pathetic attempt I figured I'd try a front loop. By my fourth attemp I was still landing directly on my head. It was now 20 minutes until the event started and I hadn't figured anything out. I was out of time. I had to learn how to do something on the fly, during the competition.
The competition consisted of three rides, best one counts. The cut was from about 30 competitors to 10. For my first ride I attempted another front loop and once again landed on my head. At this point I knew I had to try something different. My plan was to go for a kick-flip. Somehow I managed to kind of pulled it off, but I wasn't in the top 10. I knew that I had to do something special on my last ride or I wouldn't advance to finals. On my last prelims ride I did a really nice kick-flip and advanced to finals in 8th place.
For finals each competitor had 5 rides, best one ride would determine the winner. For my first ride I attempted another front flip, and once again landed on my head. At least I was consistent. For my second attempt I took the mike from the announcer and told the crowd I would attempt to do a barrel roll in the air with an off axis 360 degree spin in the air at the same time. I had never tried this so I was trying to visualize how to attempt to pull it off as I was climbing into my kayak at the top of the ramp. Somehow I completed most of my trick and made about 300 degrees of my spin. I think I surprised the judges as much as I surprised myself. I was tied with two others for first place. For my third attempt I once again took the mike from the announcer and told the crowd I was going to attempt the same trick. But to make it more interested I was going to attempt it without a paddle. I climbed into my kayak at the top of the ramp and closed my eyes. I was trying to visualize what I was going to attempt to do. I kept getting distracted by the crowd and the announcer so I gave up on the visualization and decided to just go for it. I had to just trust my instincts. As I gathered speed down the ramp I positioned the bow of my kayak about 45 degrees to the right. I thought this would help me complete my 360 degree upside down spin. As I hit the end of the kicker I threw myself over the side and back of my kayak as hard as I could. I had so much momentum I completed my barrel roll and 360 degree spin and rebalanced myself upright while I was still high up in the air. I had nothing else to do, I'd somehow pulled it off, and I was still about 10 feet up in the air.
The judges gave me a 10 and two 9's. Somehow I'd just won the event.
See the link to the video of my winning ride below.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR3O5RYZWNc