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It has been a pleasure becoming more deeply involved with the Dagger brand as Pro Team Manager this year. The Team is comprised of individuals who are as talented as they are diverse.
I knew most of them as friends before this transition, but my respect for them has only deepened since I started working with them on a professional level. I wanted to share a few things that Team Dagger athletes have accomplished in 2012:
Jason is doing incredible things in his home city of Washington D.C. Aside from his dominant racing resume, he plays an active role in Team River Runner, an organization involved in using kayaking as a way of helping veterans to heal. Jason was pivotal in raising support and awareness for the TRR Biathlon this fall.
Tao is a household name amongst kayakers, and has worked extremely hard to create a career out of paddling. He announced his retirement from the sport this spring, but did so in style... surfing massive waves off of the coast of Oregon. Although he calls it "retirement," I'm sure we haven't seen the last of Tao.
Tyler has more energy than almost anyone that I have ever met, and a positive attitude that is contagious. He always has something up his sleeve. This year, a highlight was definitely watching Tyler do his thing and charge hard to take 2nd place in the North Fork Championships in Idaho. His composure and consistency in big water is definitely inspiring.
Laura's not afraid to drop in on the scariest gorges with the boys. Even though she is from the Southeast, her current home base of Truckee, California allows her to access the best of what Cali has to offer.
Christie is from the Hood River/Portland zone, and her group of friends are showing women around the world the way to live. Christie was the first woman to run a waterfall over 80 feet a few years ago, and her positive attitude and love for the river is unconditional. Here she is being herself. (I believe this was during a recent OtterBox commercial shoot)
What can you say about Andrew that hasn't already been said? He is just the man. No matter what kind of kayak you put him in, he is going to be the smoothest, fastest, and most efficient paddler out there. Andrew recently switched careers to become a teacher, but in spite of other time commitments, he was still able to hurt some feelings in the 2012 Green River Narrows Race. Take notes as you watch Andrew, the second racer down the Green this year:
Tom is a Colorado native, and his passion manifests itself in the self-support/expedition realm. One of his staples is the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, an ominous class V puzzle that Tom has many descents on. A recent project of his has been shown around the country, and unlocks some of the mysteries of that powerful river:
Pat, like many others, has been on Team D for a very long time. Somehow, Pat has extended his prodigious learning curve starting as a child, and continues to innovate in the sport after over 10 years. Amongst many other impressive feats, one thing that I thought showed his creativity was his new Oceana line on the Tallulah River. That is a rapid that thousands have looked at, and noone saw what he saw.
Anna is without a doubt the biggest advocate for women's participation in our sport, and I have a feeling that she is just getting started. Her instruction program, Girls At Play, hosts female paddling trips, clinics, and presentations in various places throughout the country and the world. Although far from her greatest achievement, I had a great time paddling with Anna this past fall on the Gauley and producing this video of her and others paddling Dagger's newest playboat, the Jitsu:
Brad has been a leader in the kayaking community for many many years. What started as a dominant competitive career has led him to doing good for the world through his nonprofit, First Descents. This organization has helped thousands of cancer survivors find confidence, strength, and happiness through the powerful analogies that the river provides.
Chase is a young ball of energy from Colorado. His gymnastics background allows him to understand physics in a different way than the rest of us, and he applies this to his paddling throughout the west coast.
Andy has been extensively involved in the video world since he and his buddies started The Epicocity Project a few years back. He now works with National Geographic and other powerhouses around the theme of sustainability and energy policy. His shots will be featured in this upcoming film by Patagonia:
Aniol is probably my favorite kayaker to watch. His love for the river and his sport is unadulterated, and he is always there for anyone who wants to drop in on something scary but can't find a wingman. His natural talents and mental game make me believe that Aniol will do things in our sport that noone has ever seen. Seriously, he is going to redefine possibilities. Here is just a preview of Aniol's incredible skills from his 2012 trip to Norway.
Rush has big visions, and he is not afraid to work hard to achieve them. He is simultaneously a world class athlete, filmmaker, business owner, and musician. It's staggering what Rush can get done in a year. He did an incredible job on the paddling and production involved in the promo video for Dagger's new playboat - the Jitsu. Check it out.
Iker is a young charger who has been doing some incredible things on the large waterfalls of his home rivers in Mexico. He recently filmed with River Roots, Forge Motion Pictures and others on a trip that will surely produce media that is solid step into the next level.
Corey is a socializer, and it comes across whenever he attends one of the festivals that Dagger has a presence at. Recently accompanied by his wife, Jessica, and his daughter, Evelyn Nine Volt (amazing choice of middle name!), Corey can be found on the mic or entertaining the crowd at Gauley Fest, NOC events, or the USNWC Pro/Am. He is the man.
Brendan is the youngest member of Team D, but he brings to the table a stoke and river wisdom far beyond his years. Him and his brother Todd are consistently pushing it in the Pacific Northwest, and this video by River Roots shows the calibre of whitewater that they are stepping up to.
Todd, like his brother, loves the exploration aspect of the sport. Todd has successfully completed a one-day descent of the Stikine River, and this year, he traveled to the Sacred Headwaters region of BC with the goal of exploring some of the untouched gems in that powerful land. This photo says it all:
Thanks for all the hard work guys, and I look forward to great things in 2013!