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Interview Freestyle Worlds medallist, Keeners program head coach and world champion nice guy Stephen Wright .

Published on avril 8th, 2020 | by Kayak Session https://www.kayaksession.com/img-current-issue/upload-your-video.png

Corona Diaries #16, Stephen Wright (Usa)

Outside, rivers are starting to flow and spring is around the corner, and the sun is shining high. Yet around the world, many are grounded at home and it seems likely others soon will be. Though difficult, let’s repeat it, folks this is THE THING TO DO! It is necessary and worth it!

So, we at Kayak Session decided to take the opportunity to catch up with our friends in the whitewater community and see how they are coping across the globe.

Today we talk with Freestyle Worlds medallist, Keeners program head coach and world champion nice guy Stephen Wright .

Where are you and what is the situation like where you are? 

Rachel and I are in Columbus, GA.  Lots of social distancing here, most restaurants are closed or curbside pick-up/carry-out only.  The city feels pretty dead, but we are parked out right next to the river and have easy access to park n play without needing shuttle or having much interaction with anyone else.

Freestyle Worlds medallist, Keeners program head coach Stephen Wright and his Girlfriend Rachel Scheffe
Stephen with Girlfriend Rachel in front of their home on wheels

You live in van by the river pretty much full-time. What is your current set-up like? Do you have access to power, running water, refrigeration?

We live in a converted delivery van.  It’s built out with lots of solar power, which powers the refrigerator, lights, vents, and power stations.  Whitewater Express has given us access to their shop to use running water, bathrooms and showers—they’ve been EXTREMELY generous with their space for kayakers for the past 6 months.

We’ll get through this!  The rivers will be just as beautiful when we’re allowed back out. 

How has Covid-19 impacted life on the road for you? What are the challenges of living in a legit tiny home on wheels right now?

Covid-19 has impacted us primarily by pending our travel plans throughout the spring.  We’ve been planning our travels around kayaking events, which are now all cancelled.  We’ve also been financially planning based on Rachel having an extra month and a half of work, which is now not an option as businesses are closed.  Challenges for planning include trying to find places to safely travel with public bathroom access, while trying to do our part to not irresponsibly risk becoming infected or spreading anything with our travels.  We’re still not sure where or when we’re leaving Columbus because of this.

Everything is up in the air for the next 3 months.

Any future plans in the works?

Everything is up in the air for the next 3 months.  We’re assuming and hopeful that things will have calmed down enough to be running the OKS Keener Program in one form or another by then.

How are you maintaining fitness and your sanity? Can you get any exercise or paddle at all?  

We’re able to get high quality park and play just out the door of the van, and we’re not under a stay-at-home order right now–so we’re some the lucky few who can paddle right now.

Freestyle Worlds medallist, Keeners program head coach Stephen Wright surfing a river wave in his kayak in Colombus Ga.
Enjoying Colombus at high flows

How do you spend most of your time?

Working on van and motorcycle projects, paddling, streaming movies and shows, doing off river exercises, talking through the future.

If health experts in your region are telling you to stay-at-home, DO IT.

What are you watching or listening to right now? Any recommendations? 

I’m a sucker for all superhero movies 🙂

Any words of wisdom for your fellow paddlers across the world?

We’ll get through this!  The rivers will be just as beautiful when we’re allowed back out.  The time will come soon when we can go enjoy water with our friends again.  Use this time to work on any off-river skills that will help paddling be more fun when you get back to it: Shoulder strengthening, core workouts, breath-holding drills, watching kayaking media.  We’ve got this!

These few months are gonna be tough for everyone—not just kayakers

Thoughts on paddling currently and how people can access their sport safely?

That question varies greatly on where people are, what their regional health experts are saying, and what kinds of river access is available to them.  If health experts in your region are telling you to stay-at-home, DO IT.  If moderate social distancing is what’s being recommended to you, then only kayak if you have ways to do it while following those guidelines.  Being confined in a car while running shuttle with other people is bad news.  Park n play, self-shuttle, bike shuttles, or smallest groups possible, or having family members running your shuttle is really the only way to possibly go right now.  And that’s ONLY if your local/national health experts say that it’s ok where you are.  Don’t put others at risk just because you want to play!

Stephen Wright live facbook during corona stay at home
Stephen has been doing a few live video for Jackson Kayaks on facebook during the covid 19 stay at home

Ours is such a social sport, how do you see these next few months impacting the global paddling community? What good can we take away from this all?

These few months are gonna be tough for everyone—not just kayakers.  The good we can take away is to get healthy and strong and be ready to rock.  Once we’re allowed to be back out, we’ll just appreciate each other and the river even more!

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