Carson City’s Sage Donnelly to defend world title at World Junior Freestyle Kayak Championships

Carson City resident Sage Donnelly trains for an upcoming competition.

Carson City resident Sage Donnelly trains for an upcoming competition.

After an active and successful spring and summer it’s now time for Carson City’s Sage Donnelly to get nasty. And eventually, Donnelly hopes her odyssey takes her to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

The 17-year-old Donnelly will leave on Saturday to train in Argentina for the World Junior Freestyle Kayak Championships. The championships will be held in that country from Nov. 27 through Dec. 3 and Donnelly will be there to defend her world title. Among the moves Donnelly looks to perfect is the signature move in the sport, the Blunt McNasty, which is essentially a cartwheel into a spin into a front loop.

“Oh good,” said Donnelly confidently about how her Blunt McNasty is coming along. Donnelly is training in California before heading to Argentina and said she’s “getting some old tricks perfect. Then when I get to Argentina, I’ll work on some new stuff.”

During the spring and summer, Donnelly competed in the kayak and canoe slalom, which for the first time will be Olympic sports in 2020. To focus on her training, Donnelly has already gotten her GED and is attending classes online through Western Nevada College where she is seeking an associate’s degree in science.

Donnelly began her spring and summer odyssey in April when she won the national junior team trials in canoe and kayak slalom in North Carolina. She then competed in the Reno River Festival where she took second in the women’s kayak freestyle and first in the women’s kayak boatercross, which is the sport’s version of motocross.

She then won the national senior team trials in kayak and canoe slalom. She returned to freestyle competition later in Colorado at the Go Pro Mountain Games and despite competing with a broken wrist, she took third in the women’s kayak extreme creek race and third in women’s kayak freestyle.

It was then onto Europe for the World Junior Championships where she took ninth in women’s kayak slalom and 16th in women’s canoe slalom. Her biggest highlight may have come at the conclusion of her summer when she finished 7th in the preliminaries in canoe slalom at the World Senior Championships in Italy. “That was a really big highlight,” Donnelly said. “It was awesome.”

“It taught to me that I can be up there,” said Donnelly about competing against the best on the world.

As far as the 2020 Olympics are concerned, only one woman will represent the U.S. in canoe and kayak slalom, so Donnelly will have to win at the Olympic trials. But based her winning at the national team trials this year, Donnelly should obviously have an excellent chance of qualifying for the Olympics.

While Donnelly is realistic and the expectation could be for her not to medal until 2024, Donnelly said she has no timetable. “I’ll be going for gold in any Olympics I can make,” she said.


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