Determined Dombey

Steamboat teenager headed for kayak academy

This is essentially Kevin Dombey's daily schedule for the next five months: kayak, school, kayak, school, eat and sleep.

It's about time, he said.

Dombey, nearing 17, has been accepted into the World Class Kayak Academy based in Missoula, Mont., and he enrolled for the spring semester, which runs from Jan. 15 until mid-May.

The academy is a college preparatory school with strict academic standards that allows its students -- all elite-level kayakers -- to take classes while training with top instructors.

"It's interactive, almost one on one, where you have kids that like the same things you do and are all as motivated," Dombey said. "It's the best learning atmosphere."

Six instructors will be working with nine students, including Dombey, enrolled in the academy this spring.

Dombey departs Jan. 15 to meet his classmates and fellow kayakers in Atlanta. They then will fly to South America where they will spend the next two months kayaking in Chile before returning to the West Coast to complete the semester, which ends in May.

"Chile has some of the best whitewater in the world," Dombey said.

Dombey, a junior at Steamboat Springs High School, is just a teenager, but he is well traveled and independent. He's ready for the change of scenery the academy environment will provide.

"I'm totally comfortable on my own," he said. "I went to Canada for a month and a half to kayak. Growing up a ski racer, you travel. Our family traveled a lot. I'm used to hopping on a plane."

And he's ready to get back in his kayak. Last summer, Dombey achieved pro status after winning a Steamboat event, and he's looking to move forward with his freestyle kayaking.

To be considered for the World Class Kayak Academy, an interested student-paddler must be able to navigate Class IV water and be at an advanced playboating stage.

Dombey is a Class V river runner and an advanced playboater who can perform tricks such as the Space Godzilla, a front flip into a twist that ends with cartwheels.

Dombey got his start in the sport when he was 9, in his father Doug's 14-foot kayak.

Now, Dombey has aspirations of making the national team.

The World Class Kayak Academy is a good place to start. Forty percent of the academy's graduates eventually enter the professional kayaking ranks.

"You get to travel. You get the best coaching. It feeds kids to the U.S. Kayaking Team. You get it all," Dombey said.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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