Hawke's Bay canoe slalom paddler Jaimee Wilson has had a taste of international competition and is eager for more.
The 17-year-old Taradale High School Year 13 student recently returned from Europe where she competed in the under-18 girls K1 division at junior European Series events held in conjunction with World Cup open events in Poland, Austria and Germany. Two days of racing was staged at each venue.
One of three Kiwis in her age group, Wilson, did the best of the New Zealanders with a sixth placing in a 30-strong field in Poland. In Austria she recorded seventh and fourth placings in a 20-strong field and in Germany 15th and 12th placings in a field of 40.
"I got a bit tired by the time we got to Germany. But I was definitely pleased with what I did in Poland and Austria as I had set top 10 finishes as my goals before travelling to Europe," Wilson recalled.
"It wasn't until we got there that we realised how massive slalom is in that part of the world. In Austria we were in the middle of the alps and the scenery was stunning."
A New Zealand Performance squad member, Wilson, will move up to the under-23 division at the January nationals and placings there will determine her next assignments at international level. She knows what her main work-ons are following her northern hemisphere stint.
"My preparation needs to be more consistent. If I'm more consistent in how I prepare I will be more consistent on the water. I also need to work on my fitness so I don't get tired like I did over there."
The daughter of former New Zealand canoe polo representative Kirsten Demanser-Wilson and former top multisporter Kent Wilson, she started canoe slalom three years ago but has played canoe polo since her primary school days. She was selected for the junior European Series events following some impressive performances at the New Zealand open and secondary schools nationals earlier this year.
Wilson, fellow Taradale High School student Grace Dooney and Napier Girls' High School's Eva Ronberg formed the Hawke's Bay under-18 girls K1 team which won gold in Kawerau. She also secured bronze in the under-18 C1 and K1 events.
At the national secondary schools champs in Kawerau, which finished three days before the open nationals began, Wilson, who considers K1 her specialist event, won a share of the trophy for the best under-18 female paddler with paddlers from Rotorua and Alexandra and the trophy for the best overall female K1 paddler and the trophy for the under-18 down river race champion.
She also collected three second placings, in the in the under-18 C1, C2 with Dooney and the open extreme slalom, and three thirds, in the under-18 K1, under-18 C2 mixed with Hastings Boys' High School's Will Mellors, and in the under-18 girls K1 teams event with Dooney and fellow Taradale High School student Jade Coleman.
Wilson also became the inaugural winner of the Volunteer Coach of the Year award at the prizegiving which followed the open nationals.
"I'm having some down time at the moment but I will start paddling again in a couple of weeks as I start training and preparing for January," Wilson said.