Grand Junction siblings race canoe, kayak in junior world championships

kayaks and canoes are a big part of life for Laura, left, and Craig Adams. The Grand Junction siblings competed in the Junior Wildwater World Championships this summer in Switzerland. As well as getting international competition, the two met several athletes from around the world and realized a language barrier doesn’t prevent kids from having fun.

It’s not often that young athletes get to compare their skills to athletes on a world-wide scale.

Over five days in July, local wildwater racers Laura and Craig Adams got to do just that at the Junior Wildwater World Championships on the Engelberger River in Buochs, Switzerland.

“We met a lot of really cool people,” 18-year-old Laura Adams said. “There were 150 people there from 19 different countries.”

The Adams siblings competed against some of top kayak and canoe racers in the world, from Italy to Australia. The two had four races on the raging water, two classic races, which are longer courses, and two sprints. The sprints test a paddler’s endurance over a short period.

Laura, who races kayaks, and 17-year-old Craig, who races canoes, have been paddling competitively since they were 12. They’ve been on the United States Junior Wildwater team since 2005.

They said the competition at the world championships was second to none.

“They were all really good,’ Laura said. “A lot of them train two or three times a day, five to six days a week. We have maybe 50 wildwater paddlers nationwide in my age group, and over there they have 100 people per club.”

Craig and Laura both acknowledged the difficulty of the competition, finishing toward the bottom in all of their events. But on the other hand, both were at the top of the American finishers in all four races.

“Their training program is amazing over there,” Craig said. “They have hundreds of kids to choose from, and they take the best and oldest from that.”

The event in Switzerland was the second World Championships the two have attended. In 2007, they competed in the games in Charlotte, N.C.

When competing against other countries, Laura said one of the best parts is interacting with the other competitors.

“It was kind of like an Olympic village, where everyone stayed together,” Laura said.

“The Australians, Irish and us would all speak English, and there would be a few Czech kids that would come hang out and play soccer with us. They couldn’t speak English at all, but they were there having fun.”

Leading up to the world championships, Laura was already in Europe as a part of a German exchange trip through Grand Junction High School.

When it came time for the world championships, she caught a ride with some German team members to the event in northern Switzerland. She rented a kayak once she got to the event, which she said didn’t affect her.

Craig flew to Switzerland with his canoe right before the event.

“We were all from different countries, and sometimes we didn’t understand each other, but we all knew that we love paddling,” Laura said. “That was something we could all relate to.”

As for the future in the water, Laura is attending Tulane University this fall, and hopes to keep paddling while she’s in New Orleans. Craig will be a senior at Fruita Monument, and as much as he likes competing, for him, the enjoyment has been just being in the water.

“Paddling is something that sticks with you,” Craig said. “We’ve known kids who have gone onto college, but they still paddle. It’s something you can do your whole life.”


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