Fickle Feature makes for Difficult Rides; Freestyle Kayak World Cup Wraps Up in Sort, Spain

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For the final freestyle kayak World Cup event of the year, crowning the World Cup champion, the hole in Sort, Spain, gave even the world’s best troubles…

After two days of preliminary and qualification rounds, competitors knew they had their work cut out for them in performing well in the hole in downtown Sort, Spain. It was hard to stay in, hard to line up moves, and hard to score. World-class kayaker Peter Csonka scored a whopping 0 in one rides.

Therefore, when the finals came at nighttime under the disco ball lights, with a high-powered spotlight focused on the feature and literally thousands of people lining the banks to catch the action, everyone still in the running was on full alert to 1) stay in the hole; and 2) score a ride that could carry them to the podium.

“It was a crazy experience being in that feature in the dark,” says former World Champion Emily Jackson, who posts that her “timing ended up being off on everything — although it seemed to make my loops way bigger.”

In the end, able to stay in the hole the longest and score the best rides, Hitomi Takaku took the gold, followed by Marlene Devillez and Emily Jackson, Takaku’s win propelled her to first place overall for the women this year, with Emily taking second and Devillez the bronze.

Once the women’s cleared the stage, it was time for the men, who, finally able to figure out the feature, began upping their scores. Still, both the lighting as well as the finicky feature made scores far lower than other events throughout the season, with a few scores of 50 being recorded – some of the lowest ever in a World Cup final.

Competition weight Jackson Rockstars proved the craft of choice, with the top four using them to reach the podium. Dane Jackson looped his way to win the gold, placing him first overall for the year – wrapping up a season that also saw him win the season’s earlier Whitewater Grand Prix – with Mathieu Dumoulin taking second and Nick Troutman paddling to third. Rounding out the results was Jason Craig taking fourth and Sebastian Devred in fifth.

Dumoulin’s success was enough to earn him the second spot for overall behind Dane, with Devred taking third overall.

For Junior Women, Rowan Stuart took her first gold of the World Cup with Nuria Fontane in second, which was enough to give her the overall gold for the season. In Junior Men, Max Karlsson won the last event as well as the overall title with solid rides throughout the World Cup season.

In C-1, the U.S. shined, with Dane Jackson winning the gold in Sort, and Tad Dennis winning the overall crown.

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