Salt Lake City, UT - Despite being nearly half the size and half the age of many of the women who are her inspiration and mentors, 14-year-old Sage Donnelly has gone big time, winning this year’s prestigious Female Paddler of the Year Award, presented by Canoe and Kayak magazine.
Clearly surprised and humbled to win the recognition, Donnelly gave a classy speech thanking those who voted for her, her sponsors, her parents and the women who helped and those still paving the way for women’s kayaking. The awards ceremony was held in Salt Lake City during the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, the outdoor industry’s premier trade show.
For half her life, Donnelly has been a fixture on the competitive kayaking circuit. Her evident drive, sunny disposition and dedications to kayaking was recognized by Whitewater Hall of Famer Eric “EJ” Jackson, who first named the child paddling prodigy to Team Jackson Kayak when the tiny blond was just 7 years old.
Undeterred by Type 1 diabetes, celiac and thyroid disease, Donnelly’s dedication to her sport is impressive for any age kayaker without such potentially life altering conditions. The poised 13-year-old has already tallied an impressive competition record in both age group and open pro events. In junior divisions, Donnelly holds national championship titles in Under 14 slalom K-1 and C-1 as well as her favorite event, freestyle. As a precocious 12-year-old she began testing her mettle against women pros with what to an uninitiated eye could be surprising results. Those who know her aren’t surprised that Donnelly was the 2012 USA Canoe Kayak Freestyle Point Series Champion and won the women’s freestyle events at two of the toughest competitions on the circuit: Reno River Festival and GoPro Mountain Games.
Donnelly followed up last year’s amazing competitive season with results that point toward a bright and promising career. At the GoPro Mountain Games she earned a Silver medal in her first-ever attempt at the Steep Creek race, second only to 24-year-old steep creek specialist Martina Wegman. Keeping the pressure on her “senior” counterparts, Donnelly also earned a bronze medal in freestyle behind reigning World Champion Claire O’Hara and European Championships titleholder Marlene Devillez.
Donnelly’s ultimate goal is to compete in the Olympics. She’s been training with an eye toward the whitewater slalom course in Brazil in 2016 and is hoping freestyle becomes an Olympic discipline so she can compete in both slalom and freestyle in Japan in 2020.
To follow Donnelly’s budding kayak career, visit her blog at the Jackson Kayak website.
About Jackson Kayak. Founded in 2003 by Whitewater Hall of Famer Eric Jackson, family-owned and American-made, Jackson Kayak is the world’s leader in the design and manufacturing of whitewater kayaks and kayak fishing boats as well as expedition touring kayaks. For complete information about the company’s products and lifestyle, visit the Jackson Kayak website.