Ammen4Gold and Silver at Ottawa Rodeo
Dear Huge Experiences' Friends and Families,
This past weekend we had two days off from school. Todd Baker, Zach Mitchell, Grant Wildman, and Andrew Dunning a graduate from last year competed representing Huge Experiences in the 2004 Ottawa Rodeo. We could not have finished better, and everyone learned much from the experience.
Andrew won the prelims by executing a reentry we worked on just prior to competition. This earned him a bonus 16 points as he entered the hole. With nearly 45 seconds left Andrew took his time and set up his first aerial loop. The response of the crowd verified to Andrew that he stuck the move perfectly. To maximize his score he hit a second aerial loop and then flushed on a cartwheel. He executed this ride perfectly twice to dominate the prelims.
Todd Baker would go for the aerial loop as his first move, but with less success. He then would traverse across the Right Side hole PIT in order to catch the Baby Face wave. On two rides Todd would flush early with only a blunt to add to his below par score. But it was his second ride of three where Todd showed the crowd his potential. Todd would showoff his aerial blunt skills prior to hitting an aerial helix to the left. And finally a second after time expired Todd hit an aerial helix to the right bigger than the first. He was not scored for this, but his ride prior to time was enough to place him third.
Zach Mitchell would place fifth in prelims based on his great backstab skills which will be described in more detail later. Grant Wildman placed twelfth, which was not representative of how well he had been paddling. Grant had been executing great blunts in the right side hole and left clean cartwheels in practice all week. And at the last minute Grant and Todd had moments of uncertainty and decided to enter the rode in the Left Side hole. The to three places in all classes except junior womens would be won in the Right Side hole. Unfortunately, Grant and Todds decision gave them a handicap. Grant went out and hit his first cartwheel tot he right and paddled down to the Baby Face wave. Next he would attempt his blunt, but flushed each attempt with little time to return to the feature. Both Grant and Todd learned the importance of sticking to your plan.
With Huge Experiences students in first, third, and fifth going into the semis chances were good one of the three would be returning to our McCoys Chute cabins that night with prize money in their pockets. Ten athletes qualified for semis and Grants twelfth place finish was a close miss that is always makes you wonder what if. Even though you know you did your best.
The morning of semis Todd and Zach woke at seven am to practice Andrews reentry wingover for an additional 16 points. The athletes would have two rides with only one counting. Zach went first of the three athletes and stuck his entry move. His first ride was his superior ride. Time after time Zach would set up backwards on the edge of the PIT. He would hop his boat and huck with everything to the right into the pit. No one throws right in the pit. Everyone always throws to the left away from the hole avoiding the terror of being tumbled end over end uncontrollably. The genius of throwing the right is that you do not have to worry about flushing. Five times Zach would bounce off of his stern and throw himself into the monster. With each toss Zach would lift his paddle into the air in order to score the clean backstabs and cartwheels that he had been coached to hit. Zach would score the entry move, a clean backstab, a clean aerial backstab, a clean cartwheel, a back roundhouse, and a cartwheel.
Next, Todd would go. Todd had been coached to take a safer ride that would still score him higher than his Left Side hole ride the previous day. Todd would also hit his newly learned entry move. He then would stick one of his two aerial loop attempts.
Last to go in the semis was Andrew. Andrew continually hit his entry higher than anyone, and his rides now were not exception. Although, Andrews loops from the day before, which seemed to be impossible for him to miss were not available at Andrews moment of need. On both rides Andrew would flush on his first loop attempt, and only have the opportunity to show off his slalom skills as he speedily paddled up the eddy. On Andrews last ride he would hit a loop just after the whistle to receive only cheers versus an advance to the finals.
However, Todd and Zach would advance in second and third respectively. Each athlete would have one ride with the lowest score of the three being eliminated from the competition.
Todd would go first. Todd nailed his entry wingover, and paddled away from the pit to patiently setup on the holes flushy tongue. Todd would mock Andrews plan and execute two perfect aerial loops. Then Todd would attempt a Space Godzilla that hit and flushed on. It was obvious that Todd would advance and he had placed pressure on the other two athletes.
Zach would go next. He hit a low entry and it was hard to tell if it would score. Next, for the most of his ride Zach could not find his vertical backstab. He would huck and be tossed by the pit. Immediately, he would paddle and spring back to his setup point, and it was obvious the pit was slowly wearing the down the youthful energy of the Evergreen, CO athlete. With less than eight seconds of a forty five second ride it was becoming apparent that for Zach to remain alive the other athletes would have to falter. But with one last hope of desperation and with no regard for fear Zach hucked body and boat straight forward into the deepest part of the pit backed by the boat and paddle breaking rock. This roll of the dice could result in an unlikely aerial loop, but rather made the crowd cringe, as they knew what was the likely result of charging the pits rock. Immediately, after the shocking cringe the crowd rose to their feet with cheers of delight as Zach completed his aerial clean loop back into the pit. He then tiredly paddled out of the hole with heavy breaths to a high five from his excited coach.
Todd and Zach would advance in first and second place. Now, Zach would have to go first and with little rest, while Todd had the advantage of a less strenuous ride and more rest. Zach would hit his entry move and begin his hucking into the pit with less than zap than he had started less than an hour prior. For the fourth and final forty five second ride within one hour Zach gave his all and threw his body and boat backwards into the ugliest part of the hole and lifted his hands high in the air to cartwheel without his paddle. He would hit a backstab and cartwheel with his efforts.
It was not Zachs highest score, but he put significant points on the board. Often, in the late final round that come back to back the athletes falter and flush. If Todd had a flush now as he did in two of his ride the previous day then Zach would walk home with Ottawa Rodeo gold medal. Todd did falter, but it was after he hit two moves. Two HUGE moves. Todd first hit his best entry, and then nailed his signature aerial loop. He then tried his second loop to maximize his score on this high percentage move for his abilities. He flushed, and spent time in the eddy. It was obvious that Todd would win the competition with these moves and he did.
That night Todd and Zach would receive $300 and $200 Canadian cash prizes.