Calgary Paddlers on the Other Side of the World:
In 2021, our coaching team connected with a group of U18 paddlers and their parents to extend the paddling season, gain valuable life experiences, and explore training locations among the world's top paddlers. The goal was to initiate an annual migration to the other side of the world, specifically for athletes in their final year of U18 or older. The North Shore Canoe Club in Auckland generously extended an open invitation, but our plans were disrupted by the unforeseen challenges of Covid. Finally, in 2023, amid the freezing reservoir, our first migration—certainly not our last—commenced. If you're interested in potential future migrations, we encourage you to discuss it with your coach.
From the paddlers - In early November, we had the opportunity to train at the North Shore Canoe Club in Auckland, New Zealand. Alongside the incredible beaches and enjoying the New Zealand summer sun, we trained with some of the world's best women’s kayakers. The New Zealand national team, with their women’s K4 securing a Gold medal at the world championships in Duisburg, trained at North Shore. Yes, we met THE Lisa Carrington. Beyond her impressive achievements, we discovered that she's more similar to us than we thought—a real person who shows up to training every day and puts in the work. No magical secrets, just humility and dedication.
Meeting Lisa was not the only highlight; we also trained alongside Olympians every day, including world champion Aimee Fisher. Similar to Lisa, Aimee was down-to-earth and hardworking, making us feel like we were part of the team. Training with the world's greatest was inspiring and motivating. The culture at North Shore Canoe Club felt surprisingly familiar, resembling our home environment despite being on the other side of the world. The key takeaway was simple: there's no complex, secret formula to being the best. Show up, do the work, trust the process, and stay humble.
The experience was life-changing for both of us, and we have a strong feeling we'll be back soon, possibly bringing more athletes along with us!
~ Kristiane Free and Julia Demchuk.