Preparation pays off for Keller |

Preparation pays off for Keller

eagle county correspondent
Pro paddler Steve Fisher rocks his kayak over an eight-foot drop during the first-round of the Teva Mountain Games Homestake Creek Race, Thursday, June 1, 2006, near Red Cliff, Colo. (AP Photo/Vail Daily, Shane Macomber)

HOMESTAKE ” Maybe it was the preparation. Maybe it was the music. Or maybe it was the memory. Whatever it was, Pat Keller rode the rapids and flew through the flats at Thursday’s Teva Mountain Games extreme kayak race to take first place.

“I came out here about a week ahead of time and did some training runs,” said Keller, who won the race with a combined runs of 3 minutes, 40.12 seconds.

“Before the race, I did two more runs, and scouted (the course) who knows how many times, making sure I knew every minute detail and every little rock that could slow me down or expedite my speed.”

While most riders switched up their paths down the river between runs, Keller, who was sitting in first by 0.3 seconds after his first run, didn’t amend much.

“The one thing I did change was the song that I was listening to,” Keller said. “I went from Flaw’s ‘Inner Strength’ to Metallica and (the San Francisco) Symphony’s ‘Ecstasy of Gold’ and that really helped fire me up to go through the flats, digging as hard as I could.”

But Keller went with a different strategy in rougher waters.

“The last thing you want to do is get in too much of a hurry and charge through the whitewater because that’s where you’ve gotta be smooth and focusing on getting through your line,” Keller said.

Keller dedicated his victory to his former friend and teammate, Daniel DeLaVergne, who recently died in a train accident.

One day after a first-place finish in the paddlecross event, Eric Jackson (second place, 3:44.13) landed on the podium again, edging out Brad Ludden by 0.03 seconds. Ludden captured his second bronze in as many days.

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