Western Maryland hosts 2013 U.S. Slalom Team Trials, prepares for 2014 World Championships
[US K1 Ashley Nee paddling on Sunday at 2013 Slalom Team Trials]
After three days of hard racing and a semester of classes, one couldn’t blame Ashley Nee (Bethesda, Md.) for taking a small break before the 2013 international season begins. But that’s not the case.
Less than a week after claiming a spot on the 2013 U.S. World Cup Team, Nee has plans to try something new.
“I’m not sure it’s training, but I’m going to do my first long distance paddle as a way to raise money to go to Europe,” Nee said. “We hope it’s only 110 miles in hopefully 24 hours, it may take 30, we have no idea really. Basically, I’m going to paddle from my house to the Chesapeake [Bay}, hopefully. I’m going to try to get to Europe as far as I can in my boat and hopefully people will keep donating money to make it over and race.”
“We’ll paddle right through D.C., see the monuments, go past the airport and keep on going.”
Nee battled back on Day 3 of Team Trials, notching the day’s fastest time among U.S. Women’s Kayaks. But she was unable to overtake Slovakia-born Dana Mann (Bethesda, Md.) for the top spot among on Team USA.
WHAT: 2013 U.S. Slalom National Team Trials/Deep Creek Open
WHEN: May 17-19, 2013
WHERE: Adventure Sports Center International (ASCI) in McHenry, Md.
WHO: the top US slalom paddlers
2013 U.S. World Cup Team:
Men’s Single Canoe (C1):
Casey Eichfeld (Drums, Pa.)
Fabien Lefevre (Bethesda, Md.)
Zach Lokken (Durango, Colo.)
Fabien Lefevre (Bethesda, Md.)
Michal Smolen (Gastonia, N.C.)
Richard Powell (Parkesburg, Penn.)
Dana Mann (Bethesda, Md.)
Ashley Nee (Bethesda, Md.)
**Evelyn Van Horn
Colleen Hickey (Okawville, Ill.)
Micki Reeves (Denver, Colo.)
Men’s Double Canoe (C2):
Eichfeld/Devin McEwan (Salisbury, Conn.)
*Michael Rudnitsky/Elliot Bertrand
*Did not meet performance standard to make U.S. team, but will be able to race at the World Cups.
**Will not compete at World Cups, but eligible to compete at World Championships.
2013 U.S. Under-23 World Championships Team:
Men’s Single Canoe (C1):
Zach Lokken (Durango, Colo.)
Tyler Hinton (Denver, Colo.)
Michal Smolen (Gastonia, N.C.)
*Simon Ranagan (Bethesda, Md.)
*Did not meet performance standard to make U.S. team, but will be able to race at the U23 World Championships.
Trials for the U.S. Junior National Team will be June 1-2 at the Potomac Whitewater Racing Center in Dickerson, Md.
Casey Eichfeld, a two-time Olympian, held off the two-time Olympic medalist for France Fabien Lefevre in Men’s Canoe on Sunday at Team Trials. He did so with a penalty-free first run time of 105.85, which was more than three seconds faster than Lefevre’s fastest run on the day.
“I’m very happy, I was a little nervous going into it,” Eichfeld said. “Final day, I was in a fairly good place to make the team, but there’s always that pressure. You’ve got to keep it up and keep the pressure on for the others and just doing your best to make the team. I got on the course and I did the first three gates and I’m thinking, ‘I did that really well.’ So I just zoned out on the run and went with it, just trying to get on all the good pieces of water and making sure my strokes were nice and strong and efficient and doing exactly what [Coach] Rafal [Smolen] and I talked about, just following those lines and being on the good water.”
In Men’s Kayak, Michal Smolen, 19, turned in the fastest time of Day 3 but fell short of knocking off France-born Lefevre, 30, for the top spot at Team Trials. He hopes to gain experience from competing with and against athletes of Lefevre’s caliber.
“I’ve been looking at a lot of the top international guys when I watched the Olympics,” Smolen said. “I saw them, how they prepare, how they actually do there runs, how they execute them. It definitely helps me to watch better athletes than myself.”
In Women’s Canoe, Hickey and Reeves battled all weekend, with Reeves claiming Gold in the Deep Creek Open, and Hickey taking the top spot at Trials.
“There’s definitely room for improvement, and I can see that,” Hickey said. “But I raced better than I have in most races in the past. I’ve been pretty consistent, which is good. But I’m looking forward to training in the next couple months and just improving on my mistakes from this race.”
In Men’s Double Canoe (C2), Eichfeld and McEwan held serve, while trying to stay within sight of four-time Olympic medalists Pavol and Peter Hochschorner of Slovakia, who were in town for the Deep Creek Open.
“We have a slightly different weight configuration than they [the Hochschorners] do, they have a really light bowman,” McEwan said. “So we can’t totally replicate their style, but it’s always good to watch them and see how smooth they are and how economical they are in their strokes, they don’t waste energy. It’s always impressive to watch them.”
Zach Lokken, Men’s Canoe, on recording a better first run time than five-time Olympic medallist Michal Martikan of Slovakia: “It felt really good. I know he’s really not pushing it to the limits, but it’s still a really good mood-booster to know that I’m up there and have the potential to be as good as him.”
Lokken on learning from teammates and two-time Olympians Eichfeld and Lefevre: “It’s really an honor just to be able to paddle with them and to train with them. They push me and I push them to get even better. It’s really exciting to paddle with them.”
Rick Powell, Men’s Kayak, on his progression: “I trained all winter, I tried to put a little more focus into my training. I don’t think I did more than I did last year, but focusing more helped me a little bit - focusing and trying to push it.”
Powell on his confidence since winning Bronze at the 2012 U23 World Championships: “It was a big confidence booster. I think right after that race I had another good performance at Nationals. I feel like I’ve been racing pretty well all year and I did okay here.”
DAY 3 RECAP:
Here were the top U.S. times on Sunday:
1. Hickey 159.72 - 2 penalty seconds (1st run)
2. Reeves 171.97 - 8 penalty seconds (1st run)
3. Vuksich 200.63 - 16 penalty seconds (1st run)
1. Eichfeld 105.85 - 0 penalty (1st run)
3. Lefevre 108.93 - 0 penalty (2nd run)
2. Lokken 111.90 - 0 penalty (1st run)
4. Dennis 118.93 - 2 penalty seconds (2nd run)
5. Hinton 121.93 - 6 penalty seconds (2nd run)
1. Smolen 103.81 - 0 penalty (1st run)
2. Lefevre 104.65 - 0 penalty (1st run)
3. Powell 106.13 - 0 penalty (1st run)
4. S. Mann 108.79 - 2 penalty seconds (1st run)
5. A. Mann 109.31 – 2 penalty seconds (1st run)
1. Nee 117.69 – 0 penalty (1st run)
2. D. Mann 118.41 – 2 penalty (2nd run)
3. Ifarraguerri 139.20 – 6 penalty seconds (1st run)
4. Malakoff 166.61 – 8 penalty seconds (1st run)
5. E. Van Horn 154.93 – 8 penalty seconds (2nd run)
1.Eichfeld/McEwan 124.48 – 0 penalty (2nd run)
2. Bertrand/Rudnitsky 184.99 – 52 penalty seconds (1st run)
DAY 2 RECAP:
Team USA begins the new quadrennial with an international flavor. Two-time Olympic medallist for France Fabien Lefevre (Bethesda, Md.) and Slovakian-born Dana Mann (Bethesda, Md.) turned in top times Saturday at the 2013 U.S. Slalom Team Trials. USA Canoe/Kayak brought in 1996 Olympic Gold medallist kayaker Oliver Fix of Germany to help develop a 2020 plan for slalom.
“Fabien Lefevre, to have him on the team I think that’s great,” Fix said. “It lifts the professionalism of the whole team as well to have him as part of the American team. I think everyone will benefit from that. Then there’s Dana Mann and she has a background with top results, so that too will really help bring up the level of the team. We’re really lucky.”
Lefevre finished with the fastest time in both K1, where he’s paddled since age 8, and C1, where he’s paddled for 8 months. Mann recorded the fasted time among Women’s Kayaks on Saturday.
“Those races are really under pressure and it’s a good training for the next part of the season,” Lefevre said. “But I’m surprised that many paddlers are really fast here in the U.S. and it’s very interesting because if you’re too fast and alone, it’s bad. Otherwise, you just slow down and are not under pressure, so when you are at World Championships or Olympic Games, you aren’t that fast anymore.”
Originally from Bratislava, Dana Mann married U.S. kayaker Scott Mann in 2010 and the two train together at the Potomac Whitewater Racing Club. Other than Scott, she’s more familiar with some of the Slovakian paddlers competing in this weekend’s Deep Creek Open.
“Our moms, [mine and] the [C2 twins Pavol and Peter] Hochschorner’s, were the best friends, so we literally grew up together, so I know them pretty well. I was never in the training group with them because I was in my own girls training group. And [kayaker Michal] Martikan is from [Liptovsky] Mikulas, so we meet only at the races.”
Neither Lefevre or Mann qualified for the Deep Creek Open, an ICF Ranking Race, due to a lack of results competing for the U.S. Michal Smolen (Gastonia, N.C.) and Ashley Nee (Bethesda, Md.) capitalized by winning Gold in Men’s and Women’s Kayak, respectively. Micki Reeves (Denver, Colo.) won Gold in Women’s Canoe.
Slovakians Michal Martikan and twins Pavol and Peter Hochschorner claimed the Men’s Single Canoe (C1) and Doubles Canoe (C2), respectively. All U.S. athletes will paddle two more runs on Sunday as part of the Team Trials.
In Women’s K1, Dana Mann’s first run time of 123.70, including one gate touch penalty, was tops among all paddlers. Nee’s second run time of 127.00, including four penalty seconds, was 2nd among U.S. women’s kayaks. Evelyn Van Horn (Bellefonte, Pa.) and Anna Maria Ifarraguerri (McLean, Va.) turned in Saturday’s 3rd and 4th fastest times, respectively.
In Men’s K1, Lefevre’s penalty free second run time of 101.05 was tops among all paddlers. Smolen’s second run time of 106.24, including two penalty seconds, was 2nd among U.S. men’s kayaks. Aaron Mann (Bethesda, Md.) and Richard Powell (Parkesburg, Penn.) turned in the 3rd and 4th best times of the day, respectively.
In Men’s C1, Lefevre’s penalty-free first run time of 113.41 was tops among all paddlers. Eichfeld’s second run time of 117.09, including two gate touch penalties, was 2nd among U.S. men’s canoes. Zach Lokken (Durango, Colo.) and Tyler Hinton (Denver, Colo.) turned in the 3rd and 4th best times on Saturday, respectively.
In Men’s C2, Eichfeld and Devin McEwan (Salisbury, Conn.) turned in a second run time of 128.61, including one gate touch penalty, to finish tops among U.S. boats on the day. Junior paddlers Elliot Bertand and Michael Rudnitski missed gates on both runs to finish 2nd among U.S. boats.
In Women’s C1, Reeves battled back after a tough first day to finish with the fastest time among all paddlers. Her second run time of 153.56, including six seconds of penalties, was good enough to outlast Canadians Haley Daniels and Alexandra McGee. Colleen Hickey (Okawville, Ill.) turned in the 2nd fastest time among U.S. paddlers on Saturday.
Micki Reeves, Women’s Canoe: “Yesterday, I was just having a hard time getting my head in the game. And today, my first run was still kind of iffy. But my second run, I felt like I was in the moment and held it together… I think overthinking a lot and just worrying about thing you can’t really control. Just going out and doing your job is what you need to focus on.”
Reeves on the ASCI course: “It’s a tiring course and it’s longer than a lot of the courses internationally that most people are used to competing on. Usually, the kayak men’s times are low 90s [seconds], high 80s and today they’re over 100…. Sometimes [you lose energy] half way through the course, it depends on your pacing. Definitely the last few gates are just going after it and trying to hold on. “
Fabien Lefevre, Men’s Canoe/Kayak: “When you’re starting [C1, a new discipline], you don’t know what to expect. Every run is like a new adventure. You’ve just got to adapt. Even if you feel good for training, it doesn’t mean you will be able to race as fast as for training. Learning new stuff, it’s up to you if you are open minded and if you are able to put yourself in danger, and not trying to control all the time what you do on the water. Because racing at the top level for the main events, it’s not about control. It’s about doing your best and just letting it go and having fun with the spectators and the speaker, and if you feel this atmosphere, then you are able to race at 100 percent potential.”
Dana Mann, Women’s Kayak: “I’m always trying to have the best runs possible for me today. So even if I don’t win, but I have a good run that I’m happy with, then that’s my goal. But it’s really hard to have satisfying runs because there are always little mistakes you can improve [upon], so that’s my ultimate goal.”
DAY 1 RECAP:
Ashley Nee (Bethesda, Md.) has perhaps the most colorful boat at this weekend’s 2013 U.S. Slalom National Team Trials. The Maryland state flag covers the hull of kayak, as do a couple of scratches. Nee debuted the boat for the 2012 Olympic Team Trials and she hopes to ride it toward an Olympic berth at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Nee lives within a 2.5-hour drive from the Adventure Sports Center International, host of the 2013 Trials, as well as next year’s World Championships. She’s made that drive three times this week for final exams at the University of Maryland.
“It’s starting to feel like home. They’ve changed a little bit of it,” Nee said. “I think I have as much experience as anybody else. I spent the whole week here training.”
In Men’s Single Canoe (C1), two-time Olympian Casey Eichfeld (Drums, Pa.) has embraced his role of elder statesman, outpacing the field by more than a second on Friday. Eichfeld’s penalty-free first run time of 105.10 was 1.48 seconds faster than that of five-time Olympic medallist Michal Martikan of Slovakia. Zach Lokken (Durango, Colo.) finished 2nd among U.S. C1 paddlers and 4th overall with a time of 108.63.
The Trials also served as an Open event for other countries to participate, including Slovakia and Canada. The U.S. contingent will continue their runs over the next two days to determine who will represent Team USA at Senior, U23 and Junior events this season.
“We’ve got a couple of international athletes here that are really good competition and I’m having a blast getting to race against them, do a little sparring before we have to race against them later this summer,” Eichfeld said.
In Women’s Kayak, Slovakian-born Dana Mann (Bethesda, Md.) finished the day 1st among all paddlers with a penalty-free second run time of 113.78, +1.54 seconds faster than Jessica Groeneveld of Canada. Ashley Nee finished 3rd overall and 2nd among the Americans with a first run time of 118.83.
In Men’s Kayak, France-born Fabien Lefevre (Bethesda, Md.) capped off Day 1 tops among the U.S. contingent and second only to Ben Hayward of Canada. Lefevre, a two-time Olympic medallist in 2004 (bronze) and 2008 (silver), turned in a penalty-free second run time of 99.68, +0.26 seconds behind Hayward.
In Women’s Canoe, Colleen Hickey (Okawville, Ill.) ranks 2nd overall and 1st among Americans through Friday with a second run time of 152.18, including 6 penalty seconds. Micki Reeves (Denver, Colo.) comes in at 2nd in the U.S. with a second run time of 172.92.
In Men’s Double Canoe (C2), Casey Eichfeld and Devin McEwan (Salisbury, Conn.) rank 3rd overall and 1st among two U.S. boats with a penalty-free first run time of 122.90, +7.67 seconds behind five-time Olympians Pavol and Peter Hochschorner of Slovakia. Elliot Bertand and Michael Rudnitski finished fourth overall.
Ashley Nee, Women’s Kayak: “I was pretty nervous before my first run, which is a good feeling actually. I was glad that it went pretty smoothly, one touch on my first run. I was trying to improve on that on my second run, however, I had one touch again, and then in the middle of the course, I thought I was in a good place, but a difficult surge and I had to do an extra loop. But all in all, two solid runs for the first day of trials.”
Dana Mann, Women’s Kayak: “My second run was much better than my first run. I improved a few mistakes and I’m pretty happy with my performance."
Casey Eichfeld, Men’s Canoe: “Today went pretty well. C1 pretty much went the way I wanted it to. I had a really good first run, held on to first place throughout the day. Second run was a few seconds slower, I had a couple ‘low ups’ and I maybe wasn’t pushing quite as hard. It’s a long course and my endurance was telling me, ‘no’. But at the same time, it was good. Both runs, held on to first for the United States, so I’m in a good position for the team trials.”
Eichfeld on the international competition: “You get accustomed to seeing those guys around, it’s like ‘oh hey, you’re on my turf now.’ It’s nice to have these guys here, them learning our World Championships course for next year.”
“It might push me a little bit more. I want to show that I can compete with them. But I have to race smart, I have to think about this as our trials, not just the test event for the World Championships because it’s important that I make it on the team in order to be able to race in the World Championships.
This weekend, the Adventure Sports Center International at Deep Creek Lake in Maryland will host the 2013 USA Canoe/Kayak Slalom Team Trials and Deep Creek Open on May 17-19, 2013. The top U.S. slalom paddlers will compete for spots on the 2013 U.S. Senior, Under-23 and Junior National Teams.
Athletes from other countries have made the trip as well to get a sneak peak at the site of the 2014 ICF Slalom World Championships, to be held September 16-21, 2014. Next year, the world’s only mountaintop recirculating whitewater course will host athletes from more than 40 countries and 21.5 million broadcast viewers.
In Men’s Kayak, a group of paddlers will look to fill the big shoes of three-time Olympian Scott Parsons (Bethesda, Md.). Leading the pack are two athletes with medals at international junior-level events – 2008 Olympian Richard Powell (Parkesburg, Penn.) and Michal Smolen (Gastonia, N.C.). Powell, 24, and Smolen, 19, finished third and fifth at the 2012 U23 World Championships in Wausau, Wis. Smolen is the reigning U.S. National Champion in Men’s Senior Kayak.
In Men’s Canoe, a number of young paddlers will look to knock off two-time Olympian Casey Eichfeld (Drums, Pa.), including Zach Lokken (Durango, Colo.). Lokken, 19, won the Gold medal at the 2013 Pan American Championships.
Casey Eichfeld, Men’s Canoe: “Things are heating up for the season and Trials have rolled around again. This year we will be racing atop Wisp Mountain at the Adventure Sports Center International. I'm excited to have some great competition here from Canada and Slovakia as we prepare for the World Championships that are coming here to ASCI next year.”
Ashley Nee, Women’s Kayak: “Almost every top woman in North America will be racing this weekend, which should make for a very exciting and competitive event. The course is truly challenging. It has very strong currents, which sometimes change instantly and will demand both patience and aggressiveness. I’m excited for the first runs to start on Friday. I have been training harder than ever and gearing up to have the World Championships in my home state.”
Richard Powell, Men’s Kayak: “Senior Team Trials are closing in and twelve months of anticipation are coming to a head. A mix of nerves and excitement are causing me to become impatient. I'm ready to start this race and see where I fall. The course is a difficult one with surging eddies, which should make for some interesting results. I wish all my competitors the best of luck and I hope we can pick the best team for this summer's races in Europe.”
Micki Reeves, Women’s Canoe: "I participated in the Pyrenees Cup this year in order to train on the world class courses France and Spain has to offer, as well as well as gain racing experience in preparation for the US Team Trials coming up this May. I feel I learned a lot while participating in the series of three races, all being on courses that are very different from each other. Although I am happy with my third place finish in the overall Pyrenees Cup, I am not content with my racing performance. I made some mistakes late in my final race runs and I plan to work on improving on these mistakes throughout the 2013 race season.”
Michal Smolen, Men’s Kayak: "I'm looking forward to racing at the US Team Trials in ASCI this weekend, and I'm also very excited about the Worlds here next year. It's not often that the US gets a chance to host such a big international slalom event and with the Worlds being held on home turf, it's safe to say that many US athletes, such as myself, will have an advantage over the international athletes who don't train here normally. As for me, however, the Worlds next year are just another step towards my ultimate goal of reaching the podium in Rio. I'm now shifting my focus on this goal and hope that in the next couple of years I can gain some valuable experience while competing internationally."
Joe Jacobi, USA Canoe/Kayak CEO: “Our Slalom National Team Trials takes on special significance this year. In addition to selecting our top athletes for 2013 International competition, some of the decorated slalom athletes in the history of the sport will be on hand to try out the channel at Maryland’s Adventure Sports Center International in preparation for next year’s World Championships. This will be one of the most exciting weekends of slalom racing we’ve seen here in the United States in many years.”
Headquartered in Oklahoma City, USA Canoe/Kayak is a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Canoe Federation. It governs the Olympic disciplines of Flatwater Sprint, Whitewater Slalom, the Paralympic discipline of Paracanoe and sanctions Freestyle, Marathon, Outrigger, Wildwater, Stand Up Paddle Board, Kayak Polo, Dragon Boat and Canoe Sailing in the United States. 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.