Wade paddles like a pro in Salida FIBArk | AspenTimes.com
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Wade paddles like a pro in Salida FIBArk

Steve Benson

Ali Wade just keeps winning. Six months after winning the junior Pre-World Championship of freestyle kayaking in Australia, the 17-year-old Carbondale native paddled to victory in the FIBArk (First In Boating on the Arkansas River) competition in Salida last weekend.Her win, in the combined junior/expert women’s division, redeemed a fourth-place finish in last year’s FIBArk and contributed another medal to her growing collection, including a silver in the junior worlds on the Mur River in Graz, Austria, last summer.

But Wade, who loses her junior status when she turns 18 in August, doesn’t dwell on past achievements much. Instead, she’s looking to the future and the prospect of competing as a professional. And the future may be now. Wade will compete in one of two freestyle kayaking events this weekend – either on the Gunnison River or the Green River. Whichever one she decides to enter, she will do so as a pro. Wade decided to move up to the next level following her latest win.

“One of the pro females came up to me [at FIBArk] and said, ‘You should come compete with us and stop sandbagging the competition,'” Wade said. “It made me feel bad a bit, but maybe she just wants to beat me.” When asked how she feels about moving on to the next level, Wade replied, “Not great. [The pro women] have gotten a lot better since Australia – there are a lot of new tricks that need to be learned.”But Wade remains optimistic. “Maybe it will make me a better paddler,” she added.

A recent Colorado Rocky Mountain School graduate, Wade plans to stay in the Roaring Fork Valley for at least another year. This winter she hopes to land a job on the Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol.As for her pro kayaking career?”We’ll just have to see how it goes,” she said. Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com


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