While he didn’t make the U.S. team for the first time in umpteen million years, Father EJ must still be proud. How could he not be when his high-flying, airborne offspring, Dane and Emily Jackson, paddled their way to the gold in the men’s and women’s division of the ICF Kayak Freestyle World Championships?
Big water, big feature, was the name of the game on the Ottawa River’s monstrous Garberator wave, a welcome change for competitors after the lower water champs on the Nantahala in 2013. And all this played into Dane’s hands.
After a heated preliminaries on one of Canada’s best play waves, and thousands of spectators lining the banks, in the finals of Men’s Kayak the world’s top five freestylers duked it out with massive moves, including Dane, Nick Troutman of Canada, Brendan Orton of the UK, Joaquin Fontaine I Maso and France’s Mathieu Dumoulin.
Tough conditions and a flushy wave spelled uncharacteristically low scores in the opening round, with local favorite Troutman only scoring an opening ride of 607 and frontrunner Orton a paltry 507.
Dumoulin then stepped it up with a big score of 1087 in his opening ride, followed by Dane who scored 1560. In the final round, with Dane in the lead, Dumoulin in second and Maso in third, Orton flushed, leaving Dumoulin free to score 1420 to take what he thought was full control. But Dane then had the ride of the day to score an even higher 1650 point ride, while Troutman snuck into third. It made Dane the back-to-back champ after winning his first-ever Men’s championships in 2013 on the Nantahala.
It was far from over for the Jacksons’ dominance. In women’s kayak, it was two-time champion Emily’s turn, taking on underdogs Ekaterina Kulkova of Russia, Hitomi Takaku of Japan and Emily Ward of the UK in the finals, as well as current champion O’hara. Takaku led things off with a high-scoring ride that put her in second place behind Emily. While strong in the semi’s, Ward couldn’t regain her form and fell out of the running as both her and O’hara tried to match Emily’s ride. In the end, Emily captured her 3rd world championships crown, to go with her silver from 2011.
“The competition felt really good,” says Emily, who also managed the 96 total competitors in Jackson kayaks at the event. “It was difficult mentally as the judging was really strict on the women and while our rides felt good, the scores never felt great. This played a big mental game with a lot of the ladies.
“I stuck to the same routine for the entire event, including my pan ams which they weren’t always scoring,” she adds. “Many athletes changed their approach to please the judges. By sticking to my routine the whole time I may not have done my best in all the rounds, but I made it to the finals and made them count when it mattered the most.”
In Junior Women, eyes on phenom Sage Donnelly of the US. While her first two rides were flushes, Donnelly threw down two early Helix’s in the finals, as well as a massive back Pan Am, to record a score of 588 points and bring the crowd to its feet. Darby McAdams took second with Sophie McPeak of the UK winning the bronze. In Junior Men, Hugo Anthony of the UK led the charge with a whopping score of 782, followed by Alec Voorhees of the U.S. and Fabien Lanao of France in third.
For the single-bladers, it was again Dane’s show. With three world champs in the field — Dane, Seth Chapelle and current champ, Jordan Poffenberger – as well as Canadian Zachary Zwanenburg, it was a stacked field. Dane, already a silver medalist in OC1, nevertheless rose to the task, scoring a 863 on his final ride to take the gold on his vary last ride. Chapelle took second at 595 with Zwanenburg sewing up third with a score of 528.
The Ottawa hosted the first Freestyle World Cup in September 2006, and the World Championships were held at McCoy’s Chute in 1997. This year’s event was hosted by Wilderness Tours and the Ottawa Kayak School’s 600-acre adventure resort.
K1 Men Final Result
Dane Jackson, USA – 1653
Mathieu Dumoulin, France – 1420
Nick Troutman, Canada – 1170
K1 Women Final Result
Emily Jackson, USA – 448
Hitomi Takaku, Japan – 265
Claire O’hara, UK – 263
Junior Women K1 Final Results
Sage Donnelly, USA – 588
Darby McAdams, USA – 203
Sophie McPeak, UK – 71
Junior Men K1 Final Result
Hugo Anthony, UK – 782
Alec Voorhees, USA – 676
Fabien Lanao, France – 557
C1 Men Final Result
Dane Jackson, USA – 863
Seth Chapelle, USA – 595
Zachary Zwanenburg, Canada – 528