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USA Tour Blog - Brandon Hepburn

What I love the most about kayaking is that it enables me to travel the world, see new places and meet new people.  But it is always nice to come home and going to US, especially Colorado, really feels like coming home.  In Colorado I stay with Max Karlsson's family and they have really become a second family.  So I was really looking forward coming "home" to Colorado as the snowpack was huge and the run off was going to be EPIC.

First event on the Colorado Tour was The Golden Games in Golden, CO.  The Golden Games is a smaller local event that attracts the best paddlers from the Denver area competing in freestyle and creeking on Clear Creek .  The water level was not optimal as the run off had not quite yet started, but the laid back atmosphere of the event made up for it.

The first big event on the Colorado Tour was CKS Paddlefest in Buena Vista, which not only attracts Colorado's best freestyle paddlers but also some of the best paddler's in the world like the Jacksons, Demshitz, Mathieu Dumoulin of France, Tomasz Czaplicki of Poland and many more.  What makes this event interesting is that since CKS is the largest kayak retailer in Colorado, every brand known to man was on display.

The next event on the Colorado Tour was Lyons Outdoor Games which normally is a big event.  But due to the Colorado flooding last year which devastated the town, there were doubts that they would even hold the event.  I am really glad the town decided to hold the event as I hope it was a boost to their recovery as the kayaking community has rallied to support the town of Lyons in their recovery.

After Lyons we went to Vail and the GoPro Mountain Games which is my favorite event on the Colorado Tour.  The reason for this is that 50,000 people descend on the beautiful town of Vail to celebrate outdoors activities such as kayaking, climbing, mountain biking, slack-lining and more.  The GoPro Mountain Games did not disappoint as we had huge crowds at the events, even though the weather did not cooperate 100%.

FIBArk, or First In Boating Arkansas, in Salida, CO is the oldest whitewater festival in the US and this year the event turned 66 years old.  As an athlete this is another fantastic event as the crowds are HUGE.  The really high water level made the freestyle event even more to my liking as what normally is a hole becomes more a wavy hole. Sadly I didn't get the chance to compete as I had to head back to Boulder and sort out my Visa!

As soon as FIBArk was over, we drove back to Maxs parents house and stayed there for a day to prepare for the 14 hour drive to Cascade, ID and the Payette River Games.  The PRG has only existed for 3 years, but they have definitely set the gold standard when it comes to putting on an event.  They have an incredible feature which consists of a hole and a wave so you can throw any move in the book.  The prize money is HUGE and nothing else in the world comes even close.  They way they treat the athletes as well as the fans is just incredible.  They even streamed the events online allowing my family to watch me though I am thousands of miles away. it was great to place 6th against a huge stack of men!  I just cannot say enough good things about this event and I cannot wait to come back next year.

Now I am in Spain competing in the World Cups.

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