Dane Jackson Wins Whitewater Grand Prix for Second year in a Row

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As the Who might put it in Tommy, “How do you think he does it? What makes him so good?” Dane Jackson pinballed his way down some of Chile’s toughest whitewater in five events of the 2012 Whitewater Grand Prix, sealing his second straight overall title with commanding wins in the final Boatercross and Whitewater Enduro races on Chile’s Class V, big-water Rio Futaleufu.

“The grand prix is one of the most intense and epic events there is,” says Jackson. “To come out on top twice in a row feels great, but the most rewarding part is to paddle with such great kayakers on such awesome rivers and creeks.”

Jackson’s win comes on the heels of winning last year’s inaugural event in Quebec and Ontario. In overall standings, France’s Eric Deguil finished second and the USA’s Evan Garcia took third. Rounding out the top five were Isaac Levinson, neck and neck with Jackson until the end, and Todd Wells taking fifth. For the women, France’s Nouria Newman took her first title, with the Netherleands marina Wegman taking a close second and Katrina Van Wijk of Canada’s Madawaska Canoe Center taking third.

2012 WW Grand Prix Overall Results
MEN:

1st Place: Dane Jackson (USA)
2nd Place: Eric Deguil (FRA)
3rd Place: Evan Garcia (USA)
4th Place: Isaac Levinson (USA)
5th Place: Todd Wells (USA)
6th Place: Michele Ramazza (ITA)
7th Place: Joel Kowalski (CAN)
8th Place: Lorenzo Andrade Astorga (CHL)
9th Place: Galen Volckhausen (USA)
10th Place: Jakub Nemec (CZE)

WOMEN:
1st Place: Nouria Newman (FRA)
2nd Place: Martina Wegman (NLD)
3rd Place: Katrina Van Wijk (CAN)
4th Place: Lu Urwin (NZL)
5th Place: Natalie Anderson (USA)
6th Place (tie): Nicole Mansfield (USA)
6th Place (tie): Louise Jull (NZL)

In all, 30 of the world’s best extreme kayakers, including Olympians and world-record holders, from 13 countries were invited to the Los Lagos region of Chile near Osorno for the second annual event. Battling it out from the start were last year’s winner Jackson, Isaac Levinson and France’s Eric Deguil for the men and France’s Nouria Newman and the Netherlands’ Martina Wegman for the women.

Supported by the Association of Whitewater Professionals, the 14-day event included five stages of Class V paddling in Whitewater Enduro, Whitewater Sprint, Boatercross, and even Giant Slalom. From Dec. 1-14, racers moved from three events staged in the Osorno and Pucon regions of Chile onto the final two big-water events in the Futaleufu region of Patagonia.

“We started the Whitewater Grand Prix in an attempt to break through to a broader audience, showcase our sport at its best, bring together the global paddling community, and highlight the growth our sport has experienced over the past few years,” says director Patrick Camblin, adding that a full-length, made-for-tv video segment will be available following the event.

“It’s by far the most challenging and exciting event I’ve ever competed in,” says Mexico’s Rafa Ortiz., who finished down the pack. “I’s great to see so many top kayakers together in such a unique place on the planet. This sets a new standard for extreme sports events.”

The event kicked off with a whitewater enduro race on the Rio Gol Gol, where paddlers raced against the clock on a mile-long stretch of Class V, including several 15-20 foot waterfalls. Nouria Newman (FRA) placed first in the women’s division and Mike Dawson (NZL) placed first among men. A new highlights reel from the race can be seen here: http://vimeo.com/54952850

“The Gol Gol valley is beautiful; volcanoes, lakes and an intense river. Easily the hardest I’ve ever raced,” sums up Kiwi Mike Dawson, who was forced to bow out of the event after re-aggravating an earlier injury and breaking his T-12 vertebrae in his back. “The final drop was a beautiful rapid with a great run-in to a 30-foot waterfall with big consequence after four minutes of hard paddling.”

“As a spectator from Stage 1 onwards it was equally as epic,” he adds. “It was a pretty unique experience watching from the side of the river. It’s incredible to see so many kick ass paddlers absolutely slaying these race courses and taking it to the world.”

“The Gol Gol is the sickest race I’ve ever competed in,” adds Martina Wegman (NLD), who placed second in the women’s division. “The river had a juicy flow and looked very intimidating. I was stoked having good lines on my first run and place myself second after the first stage.”

The second event, the Boulder Dash, was held Thursday on another mile-long section of Class V on the Rio Puesco in central Chile. Eric Deguil (FRA) took first place among the men and Nouria Newman (FRA) placed first among the women. It was there that series leader Mike Dawson dropped out of the remainder of the competition due to a pre-existing injury that he sustained in the lead-up to the event, deciding not to risk injuring it further.

The Sprint event was held two days later on the Rio Nevados, on a course that included several short waterfalls and pourovers and tight slots through massive boulders. Levinson, Jackson and Deguil finished one, two, three for the men, and Newman bested Wegman for the women, with Katarina Van Wijk of Canada’s Madawaska Canoe Centre taking third.

From here, the athletes moved on to the Futaleafu for the final BoaterCross and Big Water Enduro events. And that’s where Jackson shined, winning both events over Deguil, with Levinson taking fifth in both events. Evan Garcia placed third in the final Enduro race.

Rush Sturges called the BoaterCross “total chaos.”

Adds Dawson, who watched it from the sidelines: “In most Boatercross match ups you get a couple of gimme rounds early along, but here in it was relentless. Stacked round after stacked round were battling it down the river. It’s unbelievable how tight these races were on such incredibly massive whitewater.”

The watwer got even bigger for the 30-minute Enduro event on a flooded Futaleufu running at lease 15,000 cfs. And it was Jackson’s win in both events that sealed his second win.

Video of today’s course can be seen here: http://vimeo.com/54746649

Schedule of Competition:
Stage 1 (12/3): Whitewater Enduro Race, Rio Gol Gol
Stage 2 (12/5): Whitewater Sprint Race, Rio Truful Truful
Stage 3 (12/8): Giant Slalom, Rio Trancura
Stage 4 (12/12): Big Water Boatercross, Rio Futaleufu
Stage 5 (12/14): Big Water Enduro Race, Rio Futaleufu
Info: www.whitewatergrandprix.com

Stage 1 Results: Whitewater Enduro, Rio Gol Gol

MEN
1st Place: Mike Dawson (NZL) 4:22.89
2nd Place: Isaac Levinson (USA) 4:27.61
3rd Place: Dane Jackson (USA) 4:33.40
4th Place: Evan Garcia (USA) 4:34.41
5th Place: Michele Ramazza (ITL) 4:36.69

Stage 2 Results: Boulder Dash, Rio Puesco

MEN:
1st Place: Eric Deguil (FRA) 2:51.20
2nd Place: Evan Garcia (USA) 2:54.14
3rd Place: Todd Wells (USA) 2:54.76
4th Place: Dane Jackson (USA) 2:55.23
5th Place: Lorenzo Andrade Astorga (CHL) 2:56.46
WOMEN:
1st Place: Nouria Newman (FRA) 3:07.73
2nd Place: Martina Wegman (NLD) 3:17.22
3rd Place: Katrina Van Wijk (CAN) 3:22.04
4th Place: Lu Urwin (NZL) 3:26.36
5th Place: Nicole Mansfield (USA) 3:40.41

Stage 3: Whitewater Sprint. Rio Nevados
MEN:

1st Place: Isaac Levinson (USA) 1:20.81
2nd Place: Dane Jackson (USA) 1:21.05
3rd Place: Eric Deguil (FRA) 1:21.63
4th Place: Michele Ramazza (ITA) 1:22.14
5th Place: Evan Garcia (USA) 1:22.26

WOMEN:
1st Place: Nouria Newman (FRA) 1:29.52
2nd Place: Martina Wegman (NLD) 1:33.67
3rd Place: Katrina Van Wijk (CAN) 1:35.16
4th Place: Lu Urwin (NZL) 1:37.54
5th Place: Louise Jull (NZL) 1:45.95

Stage Four:
MEN:

1st Place: Dane Jackson (USA)
2nd Place: Eric Deguil (FRA)
3rd Place: Adrian Kiernan (AUS)
4th Place: Evan Garcia (USA)
5th Place: Isaac Levinson (USA)

WOMEN:
1st Place: Katrina Van Wijk (CAN)
2nd Place: Martina Wegman (NLD)
3rd Place: Nouria Newman (FRA)
4th Place: Lu Urwin (NZL)
5th Place: Nicole Mansfield (USA)

Stage Five:
MEN:

1st Place: Dane Jackson (USA)
2nd Place: Eric Deguil (FRA)
3rd Place: Evan Garcia (USA)
4th Place: Joel Kowalski (CAN)
5th Place: Isaac Levinson (USA)

WOMEN:
1st Place: Nouria Newman (FRA)
2nd Place: Martina Wegman (NLD)
3rd Place: Katrina Van Wijk (CAN)
4th Place: Natalie Anderson (USA)
5th Place: Louise Jull (NZL)

Dawson on His Injury
From www.mikedawson.com.nz

“It’s crazy how quickly your luck can change. I watched Kyle Hull charging and looking like a solid contender before injuring his rib. It was incredible to see how far his style had progressed since I met him on the Green River two years ago. Juan Antonio De Ugarte was another solid racer before broken fingers put him on the side line. And I know I was gutted when my whole Chilean trip went upsidedown and my priorities changed pretty fast the moment I knew things were out of my control. It was a scary experience and something I don’t want to happen again or ever see happen. I’m looking forward to a few months of rehab on my back & then building back up to where I left off and firing up the 2013 season. This is going to be easily the longest I have ever been out of a kayak but it’s a time to change focus and check out some new things. Maybe it’s going to be a blessing in disguise…”

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