(L-R: McElroy and Hogan compete together at 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Oklahoma City. Credit: Getty Images)
The 2013 Team Trials marks the beginning of a new Olympic quadrennial, in which there will be some big shoes to fill. In senior women’s kayak, Kaitlyn McElroy (Oklahoma City, Okla.) will get the first shot at replacing replace three-time Olympian Carrie Johnson (San Diego, Calif.), who retired after London to enter veterinary school. McElroy finished first in both the 200m and 500m finals before teaming up with her Oklahoma City Boathouse District training partner Maggie Hogan (San Diego, Calif.) to win the K2 500m distance.
“For the foreseeable future, my plan is to focus on the K2 with Maggie [Hogan], we definitely have a good combination going,” McElroy said. “We’re strong paddlers together, we’re good friends. I think that our chances in K2 are pretty good for getting on a podium, definitely in the 1000-meter, and cracking that A Final in the 500. So I definitely want to focus on the K2 until whatever time comes around that I need to switch focus.”
Click HERE for results. See below for a Q&A with McElroy. Senior, Junior and Under-23 National Teams to-be-announced this week.
Hosted by the Oklahoma City Boathouse District, the two-day competition included racing events to select the Senior, Junior and Under-23 National Teams. These teams will represent Team USA internationally in the upcoming 2013 competition season including the International Canoe Federation (ICF) Sprint World Cups and Sprint World Championships.
London 2012 Olympian Tim Hornsby (Atlanta, Ga.) maintained his spot atop the senior men’s kayak 200m standings by crossing the line one quarter of a second before Ryan Dolan (Kailua, Hawaii). Chris Miller of Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club finished third in that distance, but first in the 1000m Final. Miller teamed up with Stanton Collins (Gainesville, Ga.) to claim both the K2 200m and 1000m races.
In senior men’s canoe, LCKC teammates Robert Finlayson (Gainesville, Ga.) and Ian Ross (Washington, D.C.) won the 200m and 1000m finals. Ross and Ben Hefner (Gainesville, Ga.) took first in the C2 1000m race.
The event also begins the selection process for the Sprint National Junior Team and the Under-23 National Team. Both categories will be contested at the 2013 ICF Sprint Junior and Under-23 World Championships in Welland, Canada, Aug. 1-4. The junior men’s kayak races became a battle between local paddler Dylan Puckett (Jones, Okla.) and Istvan Urban (San Diego, Calif.). Puckett finished first in the 200m, while Urban won the 1000m Final. The two athletes then joined forces to win the K2 200m and 1000m distances.
In junior women’s kayak, Natalie Griffin (Gig Harbor, Wash.) and Bailey Nurmia of Seattle claimed the 200m and 500m distances, respectively. In canoe, Makenzie Sousley (Gig Harbor, Wash.) and Gavin Ross of Washington D.C. finished first in women’s and men’s 200m, respectively.
Although the ParaCanoe National Team Trials will not take place until July, USA Canoe/Kayak offers ParaCanoe racing at all National Sprint events. D. Eiter of Texas won all three of his races. ParaCanoe racing will make its inaugural appearance at the Paralympic Games in Brazil in 2016.
Kaitlyn McElroy on her performance:
“I was definitely really happy with my results. I felt that I made a lot of gains in this past training season. It was nice to actually see them pay off, and I think that Maggie [Hogan] and I had a solid K2 race, which is my focus, so the K1’s were just icing on the cake.”
McElroy on her goals for this past weekend:
“I think that the major goal was to finally be able to get out and win some races. I’ve been able to come in second quite a lot, and in top three. But in the singles, I haven’t been able to really pull out that win that I’ve been looking for. So doing that this weekend really helped boost my confidence, which was really nice. I think that boosting my individual confidence will boost the confidence of the team boat, so that will set us up nice for the World Cups in about two weeks.”
McElroy on switching gears from K2 to K1:
“I think we’re both extremely competitive, so it’s not that hard to shift focus. It’s like, ‘OK, I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do now.’ It takes me a little bit because being in the back seat of the K2, my focus is always making sure I’m giving her as much power as I can. But she dictates how the race goes, she calls the race and I follow her command. So suddenly when I’m in the K1, I’m like ‘Oh, I actually have to think through this stuff for myself,’ which is kind of funny. But it takes a little bit of a switch for that.”
McElroy on replacing Carrie Johnson at the top:
“It’s cool. I’m definitely super excited about it. It’s something that I know a lot of people were vying for. Getting there and being able to lay it down consistently all weekend, I feel like it sets me up really well for this upcoming quad in terms of knowing what my goals are and what I want to accomplish and where I go from here. It’s just a really good baseline to put down right away.”
McElroy on training in Oklahoma City:
“It’s been huge. If I wasn’t here, I wouldn’t be able to train at the same level. Having consistent coaching, having consistent training plans and having the support, is really helping your performance, otherwise you’re just going to plateau. It’ll be pretty good, but you need the whole package in order to get to that next level, and that’s what Oklahoma is giving me.”
McElroy on the level of competition among OKC paddlers:
“Having Maggie and Arezou [Fakhr] as training partners is awesome. We’re all really good friends and we all push each other on the water and we’re happy when the other person is able to make improvements. Especially for Maggie and I, because we’re in the same boat, we’re able to push each other. If one person were able to make an improvement, we know that it’s just going to help the K2 go faster. So it’s a constant battle to be the best, but at the same time it’s for our mutual benefit.”
Who: The best U.S. flatwater sprint paddlers
What: 2013 USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Team Trials
When: April 26-27
Where: Oklahoma River in Oklahoma City
Why: Select the Senior, Junior and Under-23 National Teams
The Oklahoma City Boathouse District will host the 2013 USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Team Trials, April 26-27. The two-day competition will include racing events to select the Senior, Junior and Under-23 National Teams, and will feature ParaCanoe racing, which will make its inaugural appearance at the Paralympic Games in Brazil in 2016.
The Team Trials will determine who will represent Team USA internationally for the upcoming 2013 competition season including the International Canoe Federation (ICF) Sprint World Cups and Sprint World Championships. USA Canoe/Kayak previously held sprint national championships in Oklahoma City in 2008 and 2012, and held U.S. Olympic Trials for Flatwater Sprint in the city in 2008 and 2012.
The 2013 Team Trials renews some old rivalries but also opens a new chapter in a new Olympic quadrennial. Tim Hornsby (Atlanta, Ga.) and Ryan Dolan (Kailua, Hawaii) will face off after battling for the lone men’s sprint kayak slot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team. Hornsby, 27 earned the spot in London, but the younger Dolan, 23, is eager to return to the water.
Ryan Dolan, Men’s Kayak: “I’m really looking forward to first serious race back in the sprint kayak since last year’s Olympic trials and World Cup season. OKC always puts on a top-notch regatta every time I have been in town and I don't expect any less this weekend especially with the start gates and finish tower. For me personally, I am just looking forward to kicking off the quad[rennial] and get my season started, see friends and hopefully have a good regatta.”
In women’s kayak, two athletes lead the charge to replace three-time Olympian Carrie Johnson (San Diego, Calif.), who retired after London to enter veterinary school. Those athletes - Maggie Hogan (San Diego, Calif.) and Kaitlyn McElroy (Oklahoma City, Okla.) - have been training alongside one another for the past year in Oklahoma City.
The event also begins the selection process for the Sprint National Junior Team and the Under-23 National Team. Both categories will be contested at the 2013 ICF Sprint Junior and Under-23 World Championships in Welland, Canada, Aug. 1-4, which marks the first time Under-23 events have been contested at an ICF Sprint World Championships. Local paddler Dylan Puckett (Jones, Okla.) will look to reclaim his spot on the Junior National Team.
Although the ParaCanoe National Team Trials will not take place until July, USA Canoe/Kayak offers ParaCanoe racing at all National Sprint events. Local Paralympic hopeful in wheelchair racing Shad Isaac, 22, will compete in his first ParaCanoe race this weekend.
Racing runs 8am-3pm Friday and 8am-1pm Saturday. Click HERE for results and live streaming video.
Joe Jacobi, USA Canoe/Kayak CEO: “With our High Performance program located in Oklahoma City, this is an ideal location for us to host our Sprint National Trials and select the very best athletes to represent the United States throughout the 2013 race season. The Boathouse District offers everything we need to create a world-class event, from a state-of-the-art timing system to the same start gates used at the Olympic Games.“
USA Canoe/Kayak is a non-profit membership organization based in Oklahoma City, OK, promoting canoe and kayak racing in the United States. A member of the United States Olympic Committee, USA Canoe/Kayak is the national governing body for the Olympic sports of Flatwater Sprint and Whitewater Slalom and the official U.S. federation of the International Canoe Federation. Other paddling sports sanctioned by USACanoe/Kayak include Marathon, Freestyle, Wildwater, Stand Up Paddleboard, Canoe Polo, Canoe Sailing, Outrigger, and Dragon Boat. For more information about USA Canoe/Kayak, please visit us on the web at www.usack.org, on Twitter at @usacanoekayak and Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/USACanoeKayak.
The OKC Boathouse Foundation promotes the use and development of the Oklahoma River as a world-class urban aquatic venue and provides access to rowing, kayaking and fitness programs for people of all ages and abilities. OKCBF programs pursue the highest goals of sports and embrace the principles of the Olympic spirit which inspire athletes to work toward personal excellence, embrace the power of teamwork, and practice respect for all people and the environment. To learn more or get involved, call (405) 552-4040 or visit okcbf.org, facebook.com/OKCBoathouseDistrict or twitter.com/OKCBHD.