There’s nothing like being locked down in Australia as an elite athlete during the Covid pandemic to make you realise how good your life was before 2020.

Ty Judson certainly felt it. The 22-year-old was on the verge of taking the next step in his stand up paddling career after winning a bronze at the 2019 ICF world championships when the world came to a grinding halt.

The affable 22-year-old from Australia’s east coast took the opportunity to have an operation on his leg, which kept him away from racing for almost all of 2020 and 2021. It also put an element of doubt in his mind as he headed to the Carolina Cup in the USA last weekend.

“My last race was 2019 in Qingdao where I placed 3rd in the tech race, so it’s very good to be racing again,” Judson said this week.

“Good to be back and fit again. After almost a year off, I didn’t know where I would be at. Competing at Carolina Cup last weekend proved that I’ve still got it.”

Judson is in Switzerland this weekend, competing in the famous Ice Race in Thun. The race is also an ICF ranking race ahead of this year's World Championships.

It’s not a bad way to get .into the swing of doing what he loved most pre-covid – travelling the world, competing in cool places and enjoying new experiences.

“I’m definitely more driven, it shows you can’t take much for granted,” Judson said.

“(Covid) put a real perspective on the luxury of traveling and being able to compete. This is my first time here in Thun, I’m excited to race here. The title attracted me the most, being an ICF world cup in a picturesque venue, competing with the best in the world is what brought me here.

“I had a run around the venue yesterday, the water is very flat and crystal clear. I’m excited for the conditions, although it’s a little cold. I guess that’s why it’s called the “Ice Race”. I think I’m better in down wind with bumps, growing up next to a beach, so we will see how I do in these conditions.”

While for some, two years away from racing, and a leg operation, might seem like a significant career hurdle, Judson is pretty relaxed about where he’s at.

Still just 22, still learning, he knows what he wants from his paddling career.

“I’m still taking it as it comes. Still striving to be better than I was yesterday,” he said.

“One day I would like to be ICF world champion. Maybe at the 2022 championships in Poland. I’d like to think I’m good in long distance and I enjoy it the most. I do enjoy technical course as well. I am still learning how to do sprints to become the best all around SUP athlete.”

The ICF Ice Race on Lake Thun, Switzerland, will be held on Saturday and Sunday. More details can be found here.

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