Okawville native & Lady Rocket’s alumni, Colleen Hickey achieved a place on the medal podium at the USA Canoe/Kayak Olympic Team Trials this past weekend. The three day event was contested at the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte NC. www.usnwc.org. Designated as a USA Olympic training site, this is “Home Court” for Colleen and she was determined to “Protect Her House”.
The Olympic Team trials are a 3 day series of six runs; two runs per day on three successive days. On each of the three event days, athletes are scored by logging the time from the “best-of–the-day” run. The course consists of 18-20 gates negotiated down a raging whitewater river. Ending a day’s competition, the gates are reset resulting in a new course every day.
At the close of all runs on the final day, a “4th best score” is selected from the total of six and added to the “three daily best”. This results in a four-run total elapsed time, measured in seconds. The purpose of the 3-day trials is to select the most consistent and best condition athletes for the US Olympic Team. Three days is a long event and there are many ups & downs.
Day 1 first runs, concluded with Colleen Hickey in first place posting a class-leading initial course decent time of 165.13 vs. a 189.82 for 3-time National Team Athlete Micki Reeves of Grand Junction Colorado. Other athletes in the hunt were 2011 National Champion; Hailey Thompson of Stevens Point Wisconsin & 2012 US Open Champion; Lisa Adams of Grand Junction Colorado.
Day 1, second runs were strong for both Hickey and Reeves with Micki turning in a Class – leading time of 153.63 to Colleen’s 184.96. Mickey carried the day with her best time score of 153.63 and a combined score of 343.45. Colleen was in second with a combined score of 350.09. A mere 6.64 seconds separated the athletes.
Day 2 opened with another strong showing by Colleen, posting a 175.09 to Micki’s 213.48 at the conclusion of first runs. This performance resulted in Colleen regaining the lead with a combined score of 525.18 to Miki’s 556.93.
Day 2, second runs were a reversal of the prior runs. Colleen missed two gates for 100 seconds in penalty points yielding a Run-4 time of 273.58. Luckily, she was able to throw out the run, but she had opened the door for Reeves, who paddled right through it and posted a second run time of 174.38. With both athletes throwing out a run; the score was Reeves: 517.83 to Hickey’s 525.18. Micki had expanded the lead to 7.35 seconds.
Day – Three; Colleen began the day calm, focused and knowing she needed to make up eight seconds to regain the lead. It was a Colleen type of course; big, fast and dangerous. With three big moves in the section known as “Carnage Corner” Colleen relied on her strength and speed to negotiate rapids named; The Mix Master, “Washing Machine” and “Zoom Flume” Once again, Colleen rang the first-run bell, throwing down a 175.85 to Reeves’ 193.12. Colleen had the lead 700.03 to 710.83 for Reeves. Then, things got exciting.
Day 3, second run; Coleen started the run strong putting up a gate-9, split-time, that looked good for a 160-ish, door-slamming performance when suddenly, her boat caught an edge entering gate 10, causing a “flip in the gate” and resulting in a 50 second penalty. Hickey finished the run with a “raw time + penalty” score of 227.09. Once again, opening the door for Reeves.
Three days and six runs are tough on the athletes. Physical fatigue, mental fatigue and nerves all play a roll. Reeves was “throwing down” on run six with a strong split time and a penalty free run. But with 10 seconds to make up, Reeves needed to let it all hang out in the crux move combination of gates 14, 15 & 16. It’s called Carnage Corner for a reason! Reeves aced gate 14, cleaned gate 15 and with a single missed paddle stroke Reeves was caught by the Mix Master, swept by gate 16 and 17, and over The Flume, resulting in 100 seconds of penalties points. It was OLYMPIC TEAM TRIAL GOLD for the Girl from Okawville!
End Note: The USA is birth place of Title-9 and in as much; women have the same rights to competition as the men. Unfortunately, this is not the case in the rest of the world. Women’s Canoe Slalom was officially recognized as an international sport in 2010 by the International Canoe Federation (ICF). So far the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has declined to follow suit with gender equity in Canoe Slalom. So, while Colleen Hickey has won her second Olympic Team Trial, she will not compete in the 2012 Summer Games in London. The traditional cheer in Slalom is “UP, UP, UP. Please send your congratulations’ to Colleen firstname.lastname@example.org. See it all at www.usack.org.