Team Popp Reporting Live from the Nantahala
At today’s Junior Olympic sprint races, we came up and close with cadet superstar Brynn Benson and learned that she is one cool boater chick! Her goals include placing very well (hopefully winning) at the JO’s because she comes into these races as the cadet girls slalom national champion.
Of her previous paddling experience, she admits, “I started slalom only a little more than a year ago,” but we weren’t surprised to find out she would have made the junior US slalom team this year if only she was a year older! She raced at the US team trials in Wausau, Wisconsin; she finished 3rd against girls quite a bit older than her.
Brynn looks ahead to the next four years, when she qualifies as a junior and can race in Europe with other up-and-coming slalomists from around the country. She also has “dreams of becoming a real Olympic athlete one day”!
Brynn raced against our very own Selena Popp today in the head to head sprint event. Each of the 40+ competitors had a first individual run in which they were timed to choose the positions for the next heat. In the second run, 2 or 3 competitors from the same class with the closest original times raced head to head to determine the final places. Everyone raced fast and we saw some great crashes and some close finishes!
After the head to head sprint we switched out of our glass boats into plastic boats for the more gnarly boatercross, in which competitors were given a mass start within their class, creating mass chaos and carnage throughout the course. The racers were required to maneuver through two upstream slalom gates; missing one gate brought disqualification. Coming through the Nantahala Wave, we saw racers crash, flip, miss eddies, and accidentally knock each other down… it was a great spectator event and exciting for the kids!
Stay tuned for the rest of this week’s excited Junior Olympic Events, right here on the Nantahala River!