Ria started out as a recreational whitewater kayaker in 2008 at the age of 6. Her father, who was born in Slovenia, had been a kayaker his whole life so she was very excited to follow in his footsteps. In 2014, her father decided to take Ria and her family to watch the Canoe Slalom World Championships in Deep Creek Maryland. The day before finals at Worlds, they met the Slovenian C2 team and their friends in the stands. They invited them to join in cheering on their teammates. The next day they became World Champions. This made Ria feel included in something so big and great that she was inspired to start seriously training. She has traveled through various parts of the US, Slovenia (where she lives and trains most of the year), Germany, Croatia, Slovakia, The Czech Republic, Italy, Hungary, Bosnia, Austria, New Zealand, and most recently, Australia.
So far, Ria has competed in numerous races, but the most significant include: The 2015 ECA Jr Cup in Austria, Slovenia, The Czech Republic, and Germany (where she placed top 10 overall in the U14 category) 2015 Jr Slovenian Nationals (where she placed 4th) The 2016 ECA Jr Cup in Slovenia, Slovakia, The Czech Republic, and Germany (where she placed 1st overall in the U14 category) 2016 Jr Slovenian Nationals (where she placed 2nd) 2016 Senior Nationals (where she placed 2nd in the U23 category and 5th overall) 2016 Oceania Open (where she placed 3rd in the U18 category) 2016 Australian Open (where she placed 3rd in the U18 category).
She was very proud of herself after she won
1st place among the juniors at the opening race of the 2016 season, in Tacen, Slovenia. This was the first time she truly felt like she could become a great paddler. About a month or two later, she was racing in Merano, Italy, where she made her first ever ICF (International Canoe Federation) race final. This accomplishment made her proud and boosted her confidence. To this day, she’s the proudest of her 1st place and the overall title in the ECA Jr Cup in K1W-U14 category in 2016. Winning the overall cup title was her 2016 season goal, so winning the race in Bratislava, Slovakia and the overall cup title meant the world to her.
Most people assume that winning is all about physical strength, but in Canoe Slalom when it comes to winning 90% is your mental strength and 10% is your physical strength.
Ria says that the flexibility of her schedule is the best part of USPA. In the sport of canoe slalom, there are always lots of uncertainties, and many times they don’t know where they will be in a week or in a month. Without USPA’s program, Ria says she would not be able to participate in the sport and work towards her goals the way that she has.
Ria says she has become much more responsible and has learned to manage her time much better. “Studying at USPA definitely takes a lot of self discipline and that is something I have had to learn that will forever serve me well, not just in school but in day to day life as well.” Ria said.
“I am now able to train twice to three times a day, which has allowed me to improve much faster than before, when I went to a regular public school.”
Whenever she is not training or studying, she is hanging out with friends, reading, baking, binge watching Netflix, or doing something outside. Swimming and skiing are also two things that she really enjoys doing.
After she graduates from USPA, she would like to continue to compete at an elite level in her sport and hopefully at the Olympic games. She would also like to go to medical school and maybe one day become a surgeon.