Pit River 2015

Although I was only home for a short time this fall, I was able to get on another awesome river in California before paddling season ended, (well it never ends for me, but there aren’t anymore big releases) this time, with my whole family!  The Pit River had it’s final release of the year a couple of weeks ago (thanks AW!) and there was no way I was going to miss it!  The Pit and I go way back and some of my first memories are rafting and K2ing with my mom and dad on the class two section.  I learned to ride my bike in the campground after paddling, and it was also one of the first class 4’s I ever ran back when I was 8.  I actually hadn’t been able to make the releases the passed 4 years so I was really excited to get back on it! I was especially excited to run the 35 foot waterfall! 

    The Pit is an amazing river, cutting through a volcanic canyon with incredible views the whole way down of every fall color you could think of as well as turtles, bald eagles and blue herons everywhere!  It is yet another fortunate river to have annual releases through American Whitewater!  This year was extra special though because I was finally going to run the 35 footer half way down the class 4 section!   We got there the afternoon of the day the releases started and I was bouncing off the walls (My parents wanted to strangle me)!  As soon as we parked, I was jumping into my gear and running down to the river!  My dad, mom, and I met up with our good friend Scott Sady who was going to show me the line down the falls and also take some epic pics of my first time down!  When we got to the falls, Scott and I hopped out to scout it and watch some people run it. After envisioning my line, I was feeling good so I walked back up to my boat and hopped in, splashed my face a few times, and was ready to go!  It was epic!! So epic that I did it three times with clean landings ever time!  We had time after the first run for another quick lap before dark, so my dad and I did a sprint lap, this time running the 25 ft slide next to the falls-always a fun 1!

    The second day of release, my dad, mom, Scott and I headed out early from the campground (the take out for the class 4, put in for class 2) to get a run in before the release ended.  When we came to the falls, I did a quick run on the 35 after, then jumped over to the Fish Ladder side (yes, 3 possible ways to run the drop) and nailed the 10 ft book, which is followed by a 4 ft book, which is leads into a bumpy slide that places you below the falls-so I managed to get 2 new personal descents on the same river run!  

 

We finished the river with big smiles and high stoke for the next day of awesome kayaking!! 

If you find yourself in California in the fall-this is a must do run!

 

See you on the River!

 

Sage

 

    

South Feather River, California! Personal First Descent!

 As many of you may be aware of, California has been in a severe drought the last 4 years. Luckily, we have a large group of dedicated, river loving, American Whitewater volunteers that have been working very hard to get California rivers annual recreational releases!  The South Feather was one of those fortunate rivers where the South Fork Water and Power Agency was nice enough to work with AW and give us 3 straight weeks of releases every fall!!  

    I was helping at Feather Fest this year, (the west coast version of Gauley Fest) when Ben Stookesberry offered to take me down it for my first time…. and when Ben Stookesberry asks you to go boating you just go!  Unfortunately, the first two and a half weeks it was flowing, I had a slalom training camp with the US coach on the American River, so the window for me was tight!  Luckily, in between training and being sick, I was able to get a lap in on the last day of the release!!! 

    After taking a wrong turn onto a 29 mile dirt mountain road, (still got us to the right place just took a bit longer) I met up with Ben at the put in, set shuttle, and we were ready to go!! The hike down was honestly the scariest part, (I thought I was going to slip and fall all the way down to the river) By the time I got to the bottom, I could barely walk.  After gearing up and doing a quick warm up, we hit the water.  The first three drops were the hardest, the first one being an epic 10 foot boof where you had to drive up on a massive pillow to clear the hole at the bottom!  The next rapid was a tight slot with a lot rocks to a boof right below it.  Finally, after another little boof over a sticky hole it was time to huck the 30 footer.  All the beta on this drop said that the landing was shallow so it was usually portaged.  I watched Ben run it from the shore and was feeling good so I ran back up, hopped in my boat and fired it up! I lined up in the slot above and took a couple strokes to the lip and landed perfectly! Once I was finished with the 30 footer, we had about 5 miles of continuous class 4-5 in a gorgeous canyon, with stunning fall colors, side creeks, plus amazing whitewater!  The best part was totally the 45 minute straight up hill hike out of the canyon though. :P Huge thanks to Ben for the awesome lead down!

 

Here is a quick link to Darin MCQuid’s write up wit video and photos- 

 

http://www.darinmcquoid.com/sffeather.html

US Freestyle Team Trials!

    I recently competed in the US Freestyle team trials in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, to try for a spot on the junior freestyle team that will represent the USA this summer in Ottawa, Canada, on the wave they call Garborator. This was my first year that I was old enough to make the team, so I was really excited to finally be able to compete!  It was on a wave this year, which i was definitely not used to, but luckily, I was able to figure out some moves before the competition.  

    I was able to train on the Glenwood feature before the GoPro Mountain Games for a few days, but the water was rising quickly, so when I came back to work on my rides, the feature was completely different and had changed from a wave hole to a green wave.  Luckily, I was able to figure out how to do helixes, blunts, and back blunts in the two days that I  had left to train.  

    The day of the comp was on Monday and I was feeling fired up and ready to go!  I wasn’t able to get my blunts on my semi’s rides, so I was going into finals in second with Darby McAdams from Montana in first.  It was an intense finals with Darby and I going back and fourth for first and second.  On my last ride though, I was able to get a 216 and slide into first! 

    I am very excited to represent the USA in my first Freestyle Worlds.  Thank you City of Glenwood, Peter Benedict and all the volunteers who helped organize this event. Great job to all of the other competitors, I had a blast!

2015 GoPro Mountain Games

II’m a little late in posting, but here is my update on one of my favorite events, the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado.  Sadly, this year I was only able to do two events, the Steep Creek Race and the Freestyle (I usually also do the 8 ball and SUP events which are on Sunday)  because I had team trials on Monday.  

    I arrived at Homestake (the creek the race is held) on the morning before the comps started. It was a lot lower than last year so the middle mank part was a little gnarly, but luckily the big drops were easier to boof and less sticky.  After watching some people run it and memorizing my lines I was ready to get in some practice laps!  I was luck enough to have Adriene Levknecht to lead me down on my first few runs!  After few race laps, I was feeling solid on all of the lines, so we packed up and headed to the hole for some freestyle practice in downtown Vail.

    After a quick session at the play wave, we went back up to Homestake to sleep.  The next morning was race morning and I was really excited!  I looked at the creek again, did my usual warmup, and was feeling great! There were only 4 women so we had two qualifier runs and one finals run, but none of us were cut.  My first two runs were pretty solid except for two small mess ups (one piton and one accidental eddy catch) which put me in third.  I did some video review and talked with my dad about my lines and was ready for finals! My last run was really smooth and I was really happy with it!  After Nouria Newman and Adriene had finished their runs I managed to pull out a second place with Nouria in first and Adriene in third!  It was amazing being able to race against some of my role models.  

    That evening, I had freestyle prelims, so right after the creek race I grabbed my play boating gear and drove down to the hole to get warmed up.  I was feeling pretty good with my routine and after a competitive prelims I was third going into semis!  Sadly, I wasn’t able to pull it together in semis and didn’t make finals, so we packed up and headed to Glenwood and figure out the wave for Team Trials! 

Podium from Homestake Creek Race

Podium from Homestake Creek Race

    As always, The Vail Mountain GoPro Games were fun and exciting and I look forward to competing there next year!

I Was Featured in a Heli-Drone Promo!

This spring, I had the pleasure of acting in a commercial for a new waterproof flying drone made by Lilly Robotics, which was filmed on the American River.  The Lily comes with a special wristband that emits a signal that the heli-drone follows which you program to fly in front of you, behind you, and control how far away and how high you want it to fly!   

    We started the shoot on flat water, with professional snowboarder Jussi Okasanen. It was his first time in a kayak and we dressed him in our spare Kokatat gear and put him in a  

Jackson Kayak Zen. Were able to get him out on some small rapids with no flips or swims (he was a total natural).  After we did some shots together, I floated down to a class three rapid called Trouble Maker to get some epic boofing shots. Once we finished up there we went down stream to get some more flatwater shots showing how the Lilly is waterproof and can even fly out of the water!

    The next day, I got to practice my on land acting skills. I had a little brother and sister, grandparents, and my mom even got to play…my mom! We did some fun scenes in a beautiful home that had an everlasting pool that looked over the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Then we went to do some outdoor shots with everyone, including my new “grandma” who was able to show us her skills by throwing the Lily in the air so it could take off and get some great 360 degree view shots.  

    If you are looking for an easy way to get new shots and not use a selfie stick, you should check out “Lily”! It was really amazing opportunity to be able to be in their promo video and I can’t wait to get my own! go check out the video!


Slalom Jr. Worlds in Foz Do Iguacu, Brazil

    Last month I had the honor of being able to represent my country at the U23 and U18 Slalom World Championships in Foz Do Iguacu, Brazil.  It is a small city on the border of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina and is the home to one of the seven natural wonders of the modern world, which is also the second highest waterfall in the world, the Catratas do Iguacu Falls. It also has the second largest operating hydroelectric facility in terms of annual energy generation, the Itaipu Dam.  

Catratas do Iguacu Falls.

 

    I left straight from Senior Slalom Team Trails in North Carolina to Washington D.C. where I had to leave a day later than the rest of the team because of visa/passport problems. Luckily, the team was nice enough to fly with my boats so they could get transported to Foz.  I flew in right before our first training session and was able to quickly get in my gear and start feel out the course.  

    We only had a one hour session everyday, and shared our time with the Canadian and German teams (it was crowded), so everyone was trying to get as many runs in as possible. I was happy to not spear or get speared by anyone the whole time. The course was very technical with several sick potential hole moves, but I think the craziest things there were the crocodiles in the bottom pool (they were supposed to be the least aggressive breed there, but I didn't want to find out)  the stingrays in the warm up pool, and the capybara (pig size rodents)! The scenery was also gorgeous, with all sorts of bright, pretty flowers, trees, and butterflies everywhere you looked!  There were also fruit trees all over, which were amazing (my favorites were the banana, pineapple, and avocados)! 

    Training had been going really well until two days before the competition when one of the pumps broke, so we were only able to have a half hour of water time each day (that was probably for the better so I couldn’t wear myself out). Luckily, we still had two good sessions before the race and I was feeling sharp and ready to go for my C1 run the next day!  

    The morning of race day I got to the course early so I could cheer on the US U23 K1 and C1 men and check out some of the harder moves on the course.  After they were finished, I found a nice shady spot and rested for a couple hours till my run at 15:00.  Later, I was lucky enough to be able to Skype with my coach Jordi (he was in Spain) and then walk the course with the US coaches, “Butter Hurd” and Silvan Poberaj.    

    Once I was 100% sure on what moves I was going to do on the course, I went to warm up in the top pool (with the sting rays and crocodiles).  After doing my usual warm up and doing an imaginary flatwater version of the course I hopped out for a little while until it was closer to my start time. My first C1 run was really good, my lines were on point, but I have three touches putting me in 10th place.  I made top 15 on my first run so i didn’t have to take a second run and was into semis!  

    The next day I was the first K1 Jr. Woman to start.  I went in the morning so I got there early, watched some of the U23 athletes and then went to warm up. After i finished, I walked the course with my dad and Silvan again and was ready to go!  I had an almost clean run with only one touch and only two small mess ups on my lines. It put me barely in the first cut in 20th place so I didn’t have to take a second run again.  I finished cheering on the rest of team USA, then headed back to the hotel to get ready for my semi finals runs the next day.

    The next morning I woke up and headed to the course to dial in the gates and get ready. My C1 run was first up and it was pretty solid.  Sadly, I had several touches and ended up 12th (the finals cut was 10th).  I was pretty bummed and was trying to get my mind reset for my K1 run.  Sadly I wasn’t able to pull it off and was 29th in K1.  I didn’t do as well as I wanted to, but I still had a blast and it was an amazing experience.  Now it’s time to get ready for freestyle team trials in June!!

First Ever World Paddler Awards

I have to say, I am honored and humbled about being nominated for the first ever World Paddle Awards!.  Even though I have yet to hit the international circuit because of my age, my accomplishments were noticed, and I am competing with a lot of older "juniors" (17-19) who have world champ titles and lots of international racing and experience-so cool to be among them!

If you are interested in voting, I am posting a link to my page, but please feel free to look and vote for the other athletes, and definitely check out each category and vote for those you feel deserving.  To vote, click on the athletes photo, scroll through their bio, and at the bottom, click on the social media icons that you are a member of-Facebook, Twitter and Google +, you can vote on all 3 to make your vote count more.  Please don't forget to share and encourage others to vote!

I am currently training for the 2015 Slalom Jr. Worlds-my first international competition, which is late April in Brazil-more info soon!

http://www.worldpaddleawards.com/nominees/2014-sage-donnelly-usa

 

 

Fundraising Earrings! Proceeds Benefit American Whitewater

For several years now, I have been creating my own designer earrings from semi precious stones that can commonly found along the river.  They are $10 to $15 a pair, and $5 of each sale goes to American Whitewater.

This photo:  $15 a pair with $5 going to AW

American Whitewater is a national non-profit with a mission “to conserve and restore America's whitewater resources and to enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely.”

This photos: $10 a pair with $5 going to AW

If you are looking for a unique gift, please consider purchasing my earrings and helping out American Whitewater.  Contact me for further inventory. Shipping is only $2 no matter how many you buy!

This photo: $15 with $5 going to AW

This photo: $15 with $5 going to AW

his photo: $15 with $5 going to AW

This photo: $10 with $5 going to AW

This photo: $15 with $5 going to AW

This photo: $15 with $5 going to AW

Thanks for your support!

2014 Kayak Season Highlights

    Here is a little video of some of the highlights of my year. I was able to go to some amazing places and had a very good year for competitions. 

Highlights:

Canoe and Kayak Female Paddler of the Year

2nd in the Women’s division, Homestake Creek Race

1st Jr. Women’s Freestyle Nationals

3rd overall Women’s C1 U14 in the European Jr. Cup

1st Women’s C1 Slalom National Championship

3rd Women’s K1 Slalom Nationals,

1st in K1 and C1 Jr. Women’s Slalom Team Trials. 

  I also have had a lot of personal first descents including Homestake Creek, part of the Upper and Middle North Fork of the Payette, Great Falls Maryland Side of the Potomac, The Upper Cascades on the Nantahala, and Giant Gap on the NF of the American River as well as my first European slalom races in Slovenia, Germany and the Czech Republic.    

 I start next year with a bang in April when I attend the Slalom Jr. World Championships in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil, and hope to make the US Jr. Freestyle team so I can compete in Canada!  Meanwhile, I am training hard and hope to see you on the river!

 

Sage

My Abs-and All the Hardware to Make Me Work!

As most of you know, I am a type1 diabetic (since age 3) with celiac (age 8) and thyroid disease (age 11)  I have used an Animas One Touch Ping Waterproof Insulin Pump since I was 4, and am currently trying to incorporate a continuous  glucose monitoring system to help me control my diabetes better.  Here is a picture of my stomach and all my hardware!

I Was Featured in Diabetes Health!

Here's an excerpt. 

It’s likely if you tossed the fearless Sage Donnelly over Niagara Falls, she’d probably emerge from the churning waters at the bottom exalted over the ride, as long as she was in her kayak rather than one of those old-fashioned wooden barrels.

The truth is, she could probably master the barrel, too.

Read the full article.

 

 

Great Falls on the Potamac River, Maryland Side

Sage Donnelly kayaks Great Falls in Great Falls Park on the Maryland side, September 2014.

Pummel

Pummel

Scouting with Colin Kemp and Jim Buley

Scouting with Colin Kemp and Jim Buley

This week I was able to run the Maryland side of Great Falls for my first time with Collin Kemp and OG Jim Burley!  The river was beautiful with lots of drops and options, and flowing the perfect level for my first time down so I was stoked.  We Paddled over the dam and hopped out of our boats before the first drop to scout.  The first drop (Pummel) looked super fun. It’s a 30ft with a super soft landing so you can boof it!  The second drop (Pencil Sharpener) is fairly technical, you start in a tight slot then you have to drive hard right in order to avoid Key Hole (a super sketchy sieve).  I was feeling good, so we decided to run the first two drops then hop out and scout the last drop (Horseshoe).  We walked back up and got in out boats and it was go time!  Collin led and then it was my turn, so I peeled out of the eddy, set up my angle then hucked a huge boof (it felt like I was flying)!  After Pummel, it was time for Pencil Sharpener.  I hit the line perfect, easily avoiding Key Hole.  We jumped out of our boats to look at Horse Shoe which has a huge frowny hole, with a must make finger boof with a hidden rock right before it.  I was still feeling good so I decided to run it.  It went really well ,getting the boof perfect.  Afterward, we surfed a little then hopped out and walked back to the parking lot.  Huge thanks to Collin and Jim, I had a blast and I’m super stoked that I was able to run such an awesome section of the Potomac River!

Pencil Sharpener

Pencil Sharpener

Horseshoe

Horseshoe

Great Falls

Great Falls