Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Midwest Freestyle Championships

The Midwest Freestyle Championships is the premiere kayaking event in the Midwest. This is Cole Jacobson's second year chairing the event and as his ideas have grown so has the Championships. The changes made this year encouraged many new kayakers to give it a try. The beginner class was huge! Cole's idea to combine men and women in the beginner, intermediate, and expert class really hit the mark. Women who would never even consider competing felt comfortable joining in the fun. The woman's division doubled this year! When I count the women in the beginner class and other women in the sport I am confident we can double that amount next year. All in all the women really rocked the park. The skill level of the ladies has increased dramatically! It was awesome to see the ladies throwing loops and Godzilla's. Next year who knows...maybe there will be a few attempting a Phoenix Monkey or more. This years top women were Crystal Gustin, 1st place, Melissa Manger, 2nd, and Amy Vickers 3rd.
The men's division was incredible also. With more and more pro boaters coming to Wausau, the expert division was redefined. Many paddlers from last year dropped down to the intermediate division leaving the very cream of the crop in experts. The judging was precise in the expert division with no charity given for "almosts". Yeah...we saw some good sh...uh, stuff in that class!
The intermediate class was great to watch...some of the boaters will easily go to expert class next year. Top men this year were John McConville, 1st place, Craig Esposito, 2nd and Colin Kemp 3rd.
Boatercross was wild as usual. Lot's of flips and drama but no injuries. Colin Kemp taking 1st and Bryan Zlimen taking 2nd.
Team Rodeo had a new twist to it this year also. Teams of three paddlers were determined by drawing one name from the experts class and two from the rest. Although I miss my team from last year it was fun to take a chance in the drawing.
This year Cole had provided commemorative medals to all the participants. The top place finishers were awarded belt buckles. Very nice. Very very nice! I'm looking forward to collecting many more. Maybe even a belt buckle! This year the swag drawing was huge thanks to Jackson Kayak, World Kayak, Midwest Moutaineering, Bear Paw, Whitecap Kayak, and I'm sure many more. Melissa Manger won this years Jackson kayak. I was very happy to get a Level 6 shorty dry top. I had been shopping for one since this spring.
The fun didn't stop when the water turned off and the sun went down. There were movies to see and beer to drink. Four Square and Hoola Hoops in the parking lot. Blues Festival on the island. Sunday paddlers service under the tent. Even all the pooches were having a great time hanging out.
Many thanks to the City of Wausau for hosting this wonderful event. Huge thanks to all the people that work so hard to put this on. Cole, for chairing the event...the Wausau Whitewater board, Diver Dan Conrad and his rescue swimmers...awesome! And the most special thanks to Julie Walraven without who Wausau wouldn't be Wausau! Check out these photos from Bryan Koops at and be sure to check Bryan Zlimen's blog on the right. Next year promises to be even bigger!!

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