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See the videos! Freestyle kayak championship finishes up in Wausau.


Paddlers freestyle in Midwest Championships

Updated: Sat 11:48 PM, Aug 15, 2015

No matter the age or the skill level, the competition was heating up at Wausau Whitewater Park on Saturday at the annual Midwest Freestyle Championships.

17-year-old Jeremy Husnick of Wausau has been freestyle paddling for two years.

“This is definitely my favorite sport. I’ve been in a few sports like swimming and track and soccer and stuff like that and this is just the one sport I really love,” Husnick said.

For 15 years the Midwest Freestyle Championships has been giving paddlers the chance to show their skills on the Wisconsin River.

“It’s a freestyle competition so instead of racing down the course as fast as you can go, you will be in one spot or a hole we’ll call it and you’ll try to do as many tricks as possible in one minute,” Wausau Whitewater Operations Coordinator, Margie Wenzel said.

Freestylers are then scored on how many tricks they do and how well they do them. The championships include events for all skill levels with the youngest paddlers around 10 years old.

This is Husnick’s second year doing the event in Wausau Whitewater Park.

“I look forward to it every year because it’s just a bunch of people that love to do what you like to do,” Husnick said.

Last year Husnick was in the beginners group and this year he’s at the intermediate level.

“No one cares if you mess up or do something really bad, everybody just laughs and then go watch the next person mess up, do something else,” Husnick said.

The event draws paddlers from across the state and country.

Aarynn Krall of Manitowoc has watched the championships in the past, but this year she’s competing in them.

“I looked at this competition not necessarily because I wanted to become a great freestyle paddler or play-boater, I’m actually looking to just kind of up my river-running skills,” Krall said.

Krall said it’s a unique feeling when she’s doing tricks in the water.

“The adrenaline is pumping so hard that you don’t notice crowds, you don’t know anything except for what you’re trying to do,” Krall said.

Both Krall and Husnick agree, it’s a rewarding experience, and plenty of fun.

“I plan on doing this as long as I can until I can’t do it anymore,” Husnick said.

The Midwest Freestyle Championships continue Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

About 100 paddlers are competing over the two-day event, the organization expects more than 2,000 people to come and watch the competitions.