Final fundraising event for local team on Sunday at Moe’s
IF YOU GO …
What: Apres to support the Men’s U.S. Raft Team for World Championships in Indonesia.
When: 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Where: Moe’s Original BBQ, Lionshead.
Cost: $15 for food and a beer, with a raffle, donations, t-shirt sales and giveaways.
Donate here: www.gofundme.com/raftteam2015
Men’s U.S. Raft Team
Robbie Prechtl — front left
Jeremiah Williams — front right
Matt Norfleet — middle left
Kurt Kincel — middle right
Seth Mason — back right
John Mark Seelig, Captain — back left
EAGLE COUNTY — The country’s best paddlers are homegrown here in the Colorado mountains, and they’re headed to Indonesia next week for the World Rafting Championships.
Only three members of the Men’s U.S. Raft Team have paddled internationally, said John Mark Seelig of Edwards — captain of team 9 Ball and their back left hand on the boat — but they’re ready to keep rolling off of their national title earned this past summer.
Jeremiah Williams, of Minturn, sits in the front right of the boat for 9 Ball. This is his first year on the team, but he has years of racing experience with raft and stand up paddle board competitions.
“We proved at the U.S. National Race in Canon City this June that the lack of experience some team members have can be made up in our fitness level and ability to outlast our competition,” Williams said.
Seelig shared that the team has taken a different approach to training this year.
“We’ve been doing a lot of gym training,” said Seelig, who is also the owner of GOAT Training in Edwards. “Part of that is to work on fitness outside of the boat, so that when we’re in the boat we can work on skills — rather than trying to work on fitness and skills in the boat, which can take a toll on the body.”
The asymmetrical movement of paddling on one side of the raft “can really wreck you,” Seelig said, which is why they’ve developed specific cross-training strategies.
The team trains three days a week together — at GOAT and on the water.
“We also make time on our own to supplement team training, since coordinating six guys, living across three counties, can be challenging,” Williams said.
Since winter is on the way, the team is getting ready for Worlds with a little help from the Westin’s athletic club in Avon.
“Now that the weather has changed, we are actually not on the river very much,” Seelig said. “We have been practicing at the pool at the Westin — they have hooked us up, and we are really thankful.”
On the way to Worlds
The men leave for Indonesia on Nov. 28, and the World Championship races are held from Dec. 1-8.
There’s four events in the week-long competition: a sprint, a head-to-head, a slalom and a down river. Seelig said the slalom will likely be the team’s weakest event, but that they’re hopeful about the more rapid races.
“I think our team has a really good chance of medaling in the sprint or the head-to-head,” Seelig said, “but we just don’t know. In the U.S., we just have one big national race and some other smaller events, but we don’t typically have a ton of competition, so it’s hard to judge ourselves.”
Williams said he is anticipating intense competition — an element that inevitably makes the best in the world even better.
“Without competition, this sport becomes stagnant,” he said. “If we push each other through competition, we discover even better versions of ourselves — versions that can do things we might not have though possible.”
The team has been fundraising to cover travel, gear and registration expenses for the World Rafting Championships in Indonesia, and Moe’s Original BBQ in Lionshead is hosting one last hoorah for the team on Sunday afternoon.
The apres ski event runs from 4 to 7 p.m. It’s $15 for food and a beer, with a raffle, donations, t-shirt sales and giveaways also available. Donations can also be make to the team’s GoFundMe campaign online: http://www.gofundme.com/raftteam2015.
Once 9 Ball comes back from Worlds, they’ve still got a lot of waves to ride.
“This team has some really exciting ventures on the horizon,” Williams said. “There are some big races, some of them hundreds of miles, and even some record attempts that we are going to shoot for in the next year.”