This was my first Pro Am and it was on my birthday… I can’t think of a better way to celebrate! This event is a perfect opportunity to get some great coaching and it’s also a freestyle event for everyone to strut their stuff… But most importantly, it raises money for a great cause… First Descents! In the Pro Am, top freestylers are paired with amateurs to form a team, and for one day, they are transformed into personal mentors and coaches who encourage aspiring amateurs to new heights. I was honored to be a part of this, considering the World Championships is in 1 week, so there were top athletes from around the globe available for the choosing. Being chosen as a coach and team mate by a young paddler (Sierra Wainer) who was also taught kayaking by my personal mentor, Jeff West, was truly a heart melting experience!

For anyone who hasn’t attended… keep in mind that the Pro Am provided some real entertainment… as most of the top winners spent as much time OUT of their boats as in them doing tricks!

Sierra and I kicked off the competition rides, and never before in kayaking have I said, “we should have swam!”  We both paddled hard and Sierra’s score was really big!

Happy with our performance, I looked over to the hole and cheered on Emily Jackson as she was having a good ride too…

Then, much to my surprise, she pulled her skirt and flopped out of her boat! Between spurts of laughter, I glanced over at the judges stand to see the judges cracking up. In the Pro Am, you get points for that, and she definitely made the judges laugh harder than I did! Emily’s team mate Cat Hardman threw some big air…

But somehow we all ended up tied for 3rd :) Adriene and Ariana took the top honors with Haley and Greta Durbin close behind. Rowan Stuart’s ride left us in awe… and her team mate (also named Kat) did her part too, launching a perfect loop plug under pressure! So many Cat/Kat’s in the eddy was getting a little confusing!

In the men’s class, James Bebbington (Pringle) won hands down with great partners: 11-year-old Isaac Hull & 16 year old Kenya Ingram ripped the hole while Pringle did his part too…

2nd place was an interesting pairing of Carter Davis and David Levitt. Here’s the deal… earlier in the day, I happened to see my favorite local kid Carter, casually riding his bike around and I asked him ..why wasn’t he competing in the Pro Am?  Within a few minutes we had it squared away and he was in. He and my husband decided to paddle together and see what kind of a score they could post. Of course they both swam for the points…even though it was pointed out that David missed a roll…  But honestly David and I were so impressed to see all the moves Carter has been working on come together in near perfection on his rides! Was Carter the amateur? I doubt anyone who watched thinks so!

Also competing and placing near the top with great rides were…
Jason Craig and Devon Wainer:

Dane and EJ…

with Phil Robert and Scott Stout!

This event would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of Samantha Miller. Thanks Samantha and all the volunteers for making this possible and keeping us all in line! These photos are ALL Jez’s work, as he kindly documented the entire day and did a wonderful job! Thanks JEZ!!


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