Ashley Nee

Charlotte, Olympic Team Trials 1

Charlotte, NC

So, my plan for Olympic Trials was to peak for Charlotte and then maintain it/peak again for  the second race in Oklahoma about a month later. I did a ton of gym work with TJ at Launch and I was feeling strong and pretty quick. I went down to Charlotte for a training camp and really tried to get to re-know the water. I had a blast doing this but there were also challenges, mainly with water levels changing from day to day. But, Charlotte is always a blast to paddle on, it's big and burly. I went home for a week to hit the gym super hard again and get fixed up by the most amazing masseuse, Marueen Monteiro. I rested up and went back down to Charlotte this time it was for the big show.

I was a little surprised but the week leading up to the week was so much fun. I was loving paddling out on the water. Workouts are a million times better when you have a coach out there and both Silvan and Rafal were there. There was a super cool vibe of people really focused and pushing themselves and I really enjoyed how the Potomac Whitewater Team trained together and did video review after sessions together. The last couple of days leading up to the race, I didn't see many people, there is just so much preparation to do for the race. Cooking race day food, fine tuning my boat, family came in, athlete's pre-race meeting, demos, learning the course, resting and racing. When Ash McQ and my parents came into town they helped me get ready and we kinda nailed it.

Then race day came, I thought it would be more daunting than it was, I mean this was my third time in Olympic Trials start eddy,  well actually fourth, I did race Olympic Trials in 2004 in Southbend, Indiana  but I was so young all I remember is watching Rebecca Giddens and Sarah Leith paddle. That's when I really started wanting to go fast.  But, this Olympic Trials was really my third try contending for the spot.

So the format of the race was 2 runs on each of the 2 days. It was actually a Friday/Saturday race which was kinda weird. Each run would be used to calculate the percentage off of the top leader of the day in your class. My strategy was to try to put out four of my best runs, trying to go fast but also not touch any poles. The race is calculated off of your best percentage from each day added together.

Day 1 Run 1 Results

I was happy to throw down a solid clean run, I was pretty nervous before but I was able to use that to focus on the whitewater.  I knew the other women could throw down runs faster than a 116.81 in the afternoon so there was no resting on a lead. I focused on doing a good cooldown, getting out of the sun, watching video with Silvan and making changes to my plan for my run.

Day 1 Run 2

 I was really happy to have thrown down a faster second run and to stay off the poles. Being clean really helped me. Went for a wonderful dinner with my parents and wife and rested up for Day 2.

Day 2

Having such a small margin of a lead I knew Day 2 was going to be a fight. And on top of that, I start the day off with a run that was going really really well until I boofed through the bottom drop caught a huge boil and had to loop back for the last gate. I was pretty upset. I don’t believe in getting "bad water" as an excuse but after watching the video a hundred times there wasn't much I could have done to fix it. Now I was feeling the pressure.  I rested, got over the first run and got ready. I had the mentality that I was going to make this happen no matter what. I knew the results and I knew that the top run wouldn't be much faster than the fastest first run. So I knew going into the last run what time I had to get if the competition didn't improve on second runs.

          The race came down to millimeters on the last run!

Day 2 Run 2 Results

 I was really happy about this run. I was really nervous and I could feel it in the first few strokes but then I just got rid of all the excuses I could come up with and I made it happen.  I crossed the finish line and I couldn't really see the time but when I did it was so close that I had to recalculate percentages in my head while being super lactic and out of breath. My calculations came up with the ultra-precise answer of "Oh gosh I donno it could be enough but I donno". On top of that because I was seeded second in this race Dana was still up at the top trying to improve upon her first run time so I had to wait.

Then the waiting was over. I was informed of the official results and then got to report to the anti-doping station.  After the awards ceremony, I got to hang out with Ash and the most beautiful Steffi Van Wijk and Emily Shanblatt!

Packed up the next morning a drove home for a week at home before heading off to Oklahoma to learn brand new whitewater course there and race the 2nd and final Olympic Trials.

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