Achatz Paddles Freestyle Kayaking Competition

Spins, cartwheels, space godzillas and McNastys. No those aren't skateboard tricks. Actually, the only place you can find those tricks is in the Wisconsin River.

Once a year, paddlers from around the Midwest gather at the Wausau Whitewater Park for the Midwest Freestyle Championships.

The sport has only been around since the mid 90's. Paddlers have 60 seconds to perform as many tricks as possible in a wave or hole.
Their score is then determined by the variety of tricks performed, the difficulty level and the technical execution of the tricks.

One of the competition's youngest competitors is 13 year old Wausau native, Erin Achatz.

"I'm really working on my cartwheel and loop right now," said Achatz.

The water has been like a second home to Erin thanks to her parents who introduced her to boating when she was just a baby. Now that his little girl is able to handle her own boat, dad gets to sit on the bank and snap pictures.

"After we had kids, we took them out on flat-water canoe trips when they were about a year, year and a half old and than they graduated to going down the river in inflattable kayaks which allowed them to read the river," said Brian Achatz.

Erin is competing at the intermediate level along with her older brother Cody this weekend.

"I feel like i'm going to be able to do my best. I hope to land a couple loops, maybe even get a cartwheel or two."

At the end of the day, It's more than just about the competition.

"It's just really fun to be out on the water, practice and get better. I probably end up doing this my whole life cause i'd rather not do anything else than boat."

Erin would wrap up the weekend with a solid performance on Sunday, finishing second overall in the women's division.


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