There were a few crashes, but Mason Hargrove still had fun.
It is hard not to when you win a national crown.
The Smiths Station teen won the cadet category for competitors 13 and under at the 2017 USA Freestyle Kayak National Championships in Columbus on Saturday.
The event was held on the Chattahoochee River at the Whitewater Good Wave in front of RiverWalk Island.
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“It was awesome to win on my home wave,” Mason said. “I train down here all the time.”
There were eight kayakers in his category and three were eliminated Friday.
“The competition was really stiff. They were from all over the country, Washington, D.C., Colorado,” Mason said.
Each competitor was given 1 minute to perform six tricks, a variety of spins, flips and loops, with none repeated.
Each trick had a predetermined value with some worth more points than others. Judges decided just how clean the tricks were performed.
Speaking about the wave, Mason said it was “good in the beginning but then got a little weird.”
He said he trains at the competition site two or three times a week and also kayaks out of town.
“My win was made possible by strength from God, the endless paddling community that supports me and teaches me and my family,” he said. “I want to thank Uptown Columbus, Georgia Power, Stephen Wright and many others that put so much time and effort into making this event happen in Columbus.”
His father, Matt, who works for Synovus, got Mason started in kayaking a little more than two years ago.
Kayaking is a family affair. Besides his dad, his mother, Melissa, his younger sisters, Makinley Kate and Mary Claire, participate, as well. Three-year-old Mathis has not begun his kayaking yet.
“It is a great family activity,” Matt Hargrove said.
“Mason has worked very hard to get so good so fast,” said his mother.
Mason said it made him feel good to see his parents cheering him on Saturday.
“Kayaking gives me a great time with my family and friends, visiting beautiful places, some that you can only see by boat,” he said. “It is a stress reliever for sure, good exercise and natural adrenaline rush. Most of all I like to kayak because it is just so much fun.”
His parents say the family goal is to share their love of the outdoors with other families and encourage them to “get outside and enjoy God’s creation.”
“It was a perfect day for the competition,” Mason said. “It was hot and the water was cool.”
He will be competing in North Carolina this weekend.
As for winning the title Saturday, he said, “it meant everything to me.”