The Giant Slalom and Last Event of the Grand Prix
As the two-week tour of competition comes to a close you might be able to accuse the Grand Prix of a lot of things: a skunk reeking havoc in a hotel room, broken beer glasses in a bar in La Tuque, egos bruised, goals realized, lines missed and stomped, but no one can claim the whitewater was anything less than representative of the top end of our sport.
Wrapping up today’s final competition with a Giant Slalom on the Bras Louis, competitors geared up under steel-grey skies and a light sprinkle of rain. White birch trees shedding their bark lined the bank of the river and competitors gathered on the bridge looking up at the first rapid, which looked full of water . It had risen significantly since yesterday and frayed nerves after days of hard paddling caused an infectious stir of anxiety among competitors, many who simply wanted to get through the day unscathed.
With a heavy ambience competitors pulled on bibs for the last time, while some, either fighting injury, fatigue, or mental blocks, decided to sit this one out. The original 15-course gate got whittled down to 12 after organizers decided the moves were too difficult at this flow. And just like the 5 competitions before this one, athletes rose to the challenge showing the world, or simply themselves, that this moment, no matter the outcome would be another achievement for themselves and the event. These are what some had to say:
“On my warm-up ride I missed like 10 gates and got beat down on the slide… and I was fresh.” – Evan Garcia
“I will tell you in 30 minutes…” – James Bebbington
“Survival Slalom.” – Tyler Curtis
“ ….all the holes are Fu***** dangerous.” Joey Hitchens
“ Yesterday I liked it, today I don’t.” Katya Kulkova
“At a certain point you stop competing and just begin to survive.” - Nick Troutman
“I just tossed a coin to see if I should go again or not … coins said no…. but I think I will give her one more run.” – James Bebbington
“I broke my paddle on the first drop.” Casper Van Kalthmout
“That surf in the hole made me re-evaluate my life.” Keagan Grady
“Aniol… he excels on the burl…” Evan Garcia
“I got air on that.” – Rush Sturges
“I got air on that… and then I pitoned the wall.” – Nick Troutman
“I was upside down resting.” – Chris Gragtmans
“I don’t know... what the f***!” – Aniol Serrassoles
“I am just stoked they put on.” – Patrick Camblin
The challenging course saw fast times from Dane Jackson, Evan Garcia, Gerd Serrasoles, Tyler Curtis and Rush Sturges. Some swims, rowdy lines, and gear failure kept the carnage level to a medium, a testament to the skill of the paddlers present. The woman’s division got cheers from the crowd as they climbed in their boats, all finishing the race with good lines and a group hug at the take-out. The rain held off as the event came to a close, everybody going home safe and ready for the closing party. In the end, Evan Garcia took first place in this Stage, his second Stage win.
Check out the full results, pictures, video, and features… as well as the results for the overall event….
- Aaron Capo Rettig