Huppybar Ambassadors Landon Miller (age 14) and Cat Hardman (age 16), both hailing from the East, recently completed their Colorado whitewater competition circuit for the summer and have let us in on what it's like to travel west and be such a CRUSHER as a teenager...
Age 14, Asheville, NC Sport: C1
FIbark Whitewater Festival: !st, Cadets C1 Freestyle
Huppy: How was Colorado?
Landon: Ok, so Colorado 2018 was a blast for me. I went to 2 events: the GoPro Mountain Games and the other was Fibark. Last year was my first year going to Colorado and it was really fun but I only got to go to Fibark, so I was super stoked that we would be going to GoPro Mountain Games this year.
What's the best part of competition for you? what do you love about it?
There are a couple of things that really make me excited about going to a event and competing. One thing is I love the adrenaline rush, it makes me feel really pumped up and makes me have a big smile on my face. Overall the best part of competing is the unknown of what place you will get. It’s what gets you nervous but gets you ready to throw down.
What's the hardest part of competition? Do you feel pressure to do well, or is it all just fun for now?
The hardest part of competition is again the fact of the unknown. You want to do well but you don’t want to fail yourself or your sponsors. I will always be competing for fun and for the excitement. I will sometimes kayak for other people but mainly to motivate them and to get them into the sport. I do feel pressured sometimes because I don’t want people to think I am bad, but I am learning to let that go, and to only care about what I think.
Did you make any new friends, connections while in CO?
During this trip, I made a lot of friends and got a lot closer to a lot of people. One group of people that I got to know was the "Send It Crew". I was introduces to the crew by one of my closest friends, Tom Dolle. Tom and I got closer because every day we would have to walk Nick Troutman and Emily Jackson's dogs [pro kayakers]. I also got to become better friends with Cat Hardman and EJ (Eric Jackson [Jackson Kayaks]). I made a much better connection with all of them.
Age 16 Hampton Cove, AL Sport: Whitewater Kayaking
GoPro Mountain Games: 8th Downriver Sprint
Fibark Whitewater Festival: 3rd Junior Women's Freestyle, 4th Pro Women's Freestyle
Huppy: What were you most excited about coming West?
Cat: I was probably most excited to get back in a play boat and get back to doing some flippy-floppies. I had not been in a play boat for the past 6 months and I came to the tour to improve my skills and become a better paddler. I was also excited to see my friends because I had not seen most of them in a year and in Buena Vista, CO, there is an icecream shop we all go to evey night and get milkshakes. It’s pretty bomb.
What were a couple highlights from the trip?
I was able to come in 8th place in the GoPro Mountain Games during the Down River Sprint and I was one of the youngest competitors. The next closest age to me was 24th. I was really proud of how I paddled, because I was faster than my time last year, and I passed a couple of people during my race.
I also broke my personal record twice in one day! During my competition rides, my biggest goals was the score more than 300 points because that was my highest scored I had ever gotten during competition. During the junior women’s finals at Fibark, I threw a 390 point ride and I couldn’t not have been any happier. Then later that day, I was competing in the Pro Women’s and I scored a 450 on one of my rides and to be honest, I knew I could score that many, but I just didn’t think I would actually be able to do it. I have the skills, I just needed the confidence, and something clicked before those rides. It was like I was hit with the confidence bus, and I had thrown down like never before. I scored all the tricks I wanted too, and just had one of the best rides of my life.
What's the best part of the competition for you? what do you love about it?
The best part about the competition is being able to push myself and to do better than the last competition. I also really love watching my friends push themselves to try and score the most amount if points they can.
What's the hardest part of the competition? Do you feel pressure to do well, or is it all just fun for now?
I would say the hardest part about competition is right before and right after each ride. This is the hardest because you are sitting in the eddy above the feature and the announcers are talking, hundreds of people are staring at you, and your mouth is dry, and you don't think you could ever drink enough water. Then the judges give you the thumbs up and your heart is pounding, people are cheering, I am there thinking about how I need to get some speed for my entry move. Then once I hit the feature my mind goes blank and I am just focused on hitting each trick. Then when you hear the whistle blast, and your 60-second ride is up, everyone is cheering, my mom is staring at me, telling me I did awesome, and I await the score. Those two moments are mentally the toughest parts about competing.
Do you feel pressure to do well, or is it all just fun for now?
Well, I’d love to lie and say I compete for fun, but I don’t like to lie. I definitely feel a lot of pressure to do as well as I can because everyone is watching. I struggle a lot with my mental game, so I already have tons of pressure on myself, and because I am a sponsored athlete, I feel like I have to prove something to everyone even though I know I shouldn’t because I am supposed to just have fun and it doesn’t matter how I do. It matters to me, though, and I want to one day be the best in the world. So yes, I feel like I have a lot of pressure to do well.