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12-Year-Old Kids Kayak Off Waterfalls, Beat Adults In Comps

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Kayakers Sage Donnelly and Henry Hyde aren’t old enough to drive a car, vote, or buy a beer. But on whitewater, they regularly go head to head with adults. Sometimes, they even win.

Yeah, she’s 12. But Sage Donnelly can drop a waterfall like a boss

Sage and Henry are both 12-year-old phenoms who will compete in the GoPro Mountain Games against professional adults.

They won’t just be there for show but hope to stand on the podium. We caught up with both of these youngsters for insight into what makes them excel despite their age gap with most of the field.

Sage Donnelly

A 12-year-old from Carson City, Nevada, Sage has proven repeatedly that she can take on adult pros. Most recently Sage’s commanding performance at the Reno River Festival on May 2-3 earned her first place in women’s freestyle, women’s slalom, and women’s boatercross. She also took third-place in women’s downriver SUP.

Sage started kayaking in a tandem boat with her father when she was just 2 years old and moved into her own kayak at 5 years. With years of solo experience now under her belt, she won her first National Championship at age 10.

Sage Donnelly paddles for a gate.

“She’s very competitive,” said her mother, Stephanie. “She has aspirations for the 2016 Olympics and works very hard. She’s always in the water and wants to do her best. She’s also a tactician and is very thoughtful with what she does.”

Sage enjoys a different “playground” than most kids her age

Sage is an all-around tough athlete. She’s skied double diamonds since age 5. She even climbed the 8-pitch Yosemite classic rock climb “Snake Dike” at age 9.

continued on next page — profile of Henry Hyde. . .

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