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Team USA Training Week - Long Beach, WA

For the better part of ten days, most of Team USA was able to spend time at Long Beach,

Washington and get in some very much needed dedicated training days. The first few days started with cold weather and rain, making it the perfect time to unveil the new Team USA Sport Kite Team Livery. Jackets, fleeces, and beanies all came in handy.



When the rain became a little too hard, the pairs retreated to their camps and discussed ethics, planning, and did a few run throughs of stick flying.


SPENCER WATSON

"We've been hard at work, testing our routines through the full competition wind range, and we are ready for anything. This is probably the most rigorously that I've ever prepared for something, but with that, I need to remember that it's just kites. I'm going to France to have a good time and show what I can do, and I know I'll do best if I'm relaxed and content. I'm working on building up some Zen and bringing it with me so I can enjoy the process." ~ Spencer Watson



KATRINA BRULAND

"Thankfully, rainy skies gave way to beautiful sunny hours on the beach, with wind ranging from 3mph to well over 35mph. Giving everyone a chance to run their routines in every conceivable weather they may encounter during the competition.

In these last few weeks of preparation I’ve been doing a lot of thinking along the lines of, How am I going to make this enormous pile of stuff fit in that suitcase, why do I need so many cords and hats, and will my son actually walk the dog while I’m gone? And where did I just put that thing I remembered I will need in France, but now it’s lost again? (It was in my pocket.) 

I’ve been thinking bigger thoughts too, like about what it took to get to this point. In the short term, it’s been a lot of chilly days at the coast in December, January and February. There’s a reason why we had the beach to ourselves. Working toward a goal with friends though, that’s made it completely worthwhile. Truly.

I’ve also been thinking back to when I got started over a decade ago. I remember how hard I worked on my skills as an individual and how much I wanted to be part of a team. I just came across a kiting button from 2011. There were a lot of us who could fly team maneuvers, but we didn’t actually have a team. So we (facetiously) started Team Free Agents and we flew with each other. I had to learn to call because none of us knew how. 

It’s the team experience that has kept me flying kites all these years. And now I find myself heading to France as part of Team USA. Huh. Will there really be hundreds of thousands of people watching? Yes. And will we give them something worth watching? Absolutely.  

Now, you might imagine I’m feeling just a little too proud of myself, but no. I never forget for a second that there are so many kiters out there who didn’t get this opportunity, but who are every bit as worthy. I don’t have imposter syndrome, I have earned this spot on the team. But I also feel lucky, VERY lucky to get to do this, and to do it with this fantastic group of flyers. I hope we will make the kiting community and all of our sponsors proud." ~Katrina Bruland




CRYSTAL WILDER


Link to an unboxing video of Team Gear: https://youtu.be/S4FNvDm3e5o?si=Jvu9W7v0_BbzZ6dl


"The last few weeks have been a full range of emotions. For me, this is my first international trip and my first kite competition so there's a lot to digest. I am reminding myself to remain calm and trust our training and ourselves as skilled pilots in these last few days. I am confident in our preparations and we still have more practice ahead once we all land together in France. So far, for the quadline team competitors, it's been a multi-team effort to get everyone as prepared as possible. We utilized stand in pilots who studied our routine along side team USA. We are so grateful for their assistance and dedication to our team training. It has been a rewarding experience so far and it's still only the beginning. There's been so much going into this event, to see it all come together over the next couple weeks will be such a pleasure." ~ Crystal Wilder



BRETT MARCHEL

The week leading up to World Cup... if I'm being honest, it's been great. I actually haven't thought much about it. I've been out with local friends playing disc golf, hanging out with the family, I've been working and I've been building a new kite for future shows. This may seem unproductive or lazy. To the contrary I feel like a solid break before business is needed. As someone that has done competitive sports my entire life I know how to deal with the nerves and anxiety that come along with pre competition days. I could worry about it, go out every day and fly, fly, fly... but that just brings on more anxiety. We're best when we're relaxed with little expectation. Truth is, since January I've been inundated with festival planning, new kite builds, Team organization on my local side, team organization on the USA side, planning non kite festival kite stuff, writing a routine from scratch, not to mention work, home life, and the transmission going out in my car. It has been a non stop struggle to keep this party going. Compound that with all the organizers of festivals needing music, tax info, volunteers for festival duties, travel info for teammates, etc... It's been wild in my head.


We're now beyond the Kites on the Coast and Cherry Blossom Festival. My brain goes into full USA mode. 2 weeks before hitting the ground in France Crystal made a trip up here to Michigan so we could get together with Mike Diehl and Jason Ridgel from Team Sky-FX and get this routine flown with all 4 kites in the sky. We arrived at Maumee Bay State Park on Lake Erie and we were greeted to a wonderfully smooth, onshore breeze off the lake. Absolute perfect, clinical conditions. It didn't take us long to get through the routine without music. Purely flying the maneuvers and making sure we all knew what we were supposed to do. Quickly the music fires up and we make it through on the first run. Hitting the repeat button we continue to jam out routine after routine. By the end of the day we have a really solid togetherness and the calls all but disappear. Magic The following day we would return to Maumee Bay but with the routine in the rear view mirror for the day. We were there with members of Sky-FX to enjoy the path of totality during the eclipse. We put on a good show for the unsuspecting crowd (Park was at capacity) that thought they were there for an eclipse. I still think they all saw our message on the Black Swamp kite page and they came for us but we'll never know for certain. The day was about enjoying time with some teammates and the incredible show that mother nature would put on for us. Can I just say, one of the most incredible things I've ever witnessed with my own eyes. It was the boost I needed after a hard few months of burning the candle from both ends. I felt revitalized and fresh minded and I've carried that with me for the last two weeks. As soon as Crystal left, my job was complete until we hit the sand in Berck and my body realized it. Finally, the real rest I've been needing!


Team USA Quad Team with stand ins practicing in the mid-west!


So, this last week was not about Team USA thoughts or anything else. It was purely for me... until getting the request to write this review of our last week. It's been wonderful to soak in the home life while I'm here. I'm extremely grateful to the wife, Katie, and many friends that support me while I'm gone on all these adventures and all the time it takes up while I am at home. Just know, I love you guys and I cherish every minute I have with you while I am home. You can practice all you want but it's hard to beat someone that has already won in love and in battle


LINZY ABBOTT

This last week has been full of both joy and sadness for me as it was my last few days of work for the season at Hoodoo. I spent time between teaching snowboarding lessons practicing routines with stick kites since actually flying them wasn't an option. I also focused on time with the amazing family of people I have up there to decompress and enjoy our last few days of working together. I'm sad to see the snow season coming to a close but I'm super excited to kick off the kiting season with this world kite cup!






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