International Canoe Federation’s Freestyle World Cup Round 2 Wrapped Up, Looking Toward NOC

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More than 100 freestyle kayakers and canoeists from more than 17 nations and five continents are currently floating around the Southeast following the first international kayak event to be hosted in the region since the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Event 1 on the Caney Fork, Rock Island, Tenn., wrapped first (see results), and Event 2 on the Pigeon River ended September 1.

Thousands of spectators turned up to watch international Freestyle phenomenon Eric Jackson and his children Dane and Emily put on a show in their home state of Tennessee.

Peter Csonka (SVK) continued his domination of the 2012 Freestyle World Cup Series, finishing first with a final score of 1416. Csonka was first after both the preliminary and the quarter-final rounds, but was seeded in second place behind USA’s Dane Jackson coming out of the semifinal. However, Dane Jackson, a resident of Rock Island, couldn’t quite match Csonka’s score in the final round, finishing second with 1380 points. In third place was Joaquim Fontane, of Barcelona, ESP, with a score of 1160.

In Women’s Kayak, Dane’s sister Emily Jackson also came in second with a score of 486. Great Britain’s Claire O’Hara was the women’s champion with 586 points, an impressive ride in the K1 Women’s Class. Nina Csonkova of Slovakia was third with 416 points.

Athletes credited high scores to the impressive freestyle feature on the Pigeon. “It’s pretty much your ideal freestyle hole, and it really enables athletes to deliver world-class performances,” said Australian coach and competitor Jez Jez. Jez finished 4th in the C1 class. Dane Jackson, Jordan Poffenberger, and Seth Chappelle, all of USA, finished first, second, and third, respectively.

ICF World Cup Event #2 winners for the Finals on the Pigeon are: Peter Csonka (Mens K1), Claire O’Hara (Womens K1), Seth Chappelle (OC1), Dane Jackson (C1), Dane Jackson (Mens Squirt), Claire O’Hara (Womens Squirt), Brendon Orton (Jr. Mens), and Nuria Fontane (Jr. Womens).

Here are the results of Event #2 as reported on EJ’s blog: “The Men’s Finals was electrifying with nail biting suspense during a showdown between Peter Csonka and Dane Jackson that was amazing. The Women’s finals was also incredible as Claire O’hara and Emily Jackson battled for the win down to the final ride, with Nina Csonkova able to pull off a huge ride at any time, but flushed out of the hole. Junior men’s class had Hunter Katich and Brenn Orton going at it as the two clear leaders. Hunter gave Brenn a run for his money with a 900+ point ride to Brenn’s 1000 point ride. Brenn got a victory lap, however, and did some sweet combos to show off, including a trickywoo to front loop and lunar orbit to front loop that was sick! Jordon Poffenberger had some great rides and is becoming quite the kayaker (he is a C1’er first) and took Third. Brandon from England was 4th with a close score to Jordan and Paul Palmer, coming off a second place at Rock Island, came in 5th with some nice moves, but not enough to be in the top three.”

Continued Jackson: “The C1 class was also hotly contested with Seth Chapelle, Jordon Poffenberger, and Dane Jackson in the top three. Neither Jordan or Seth got the best rides they are capable of, and Dane won with a 633 point ride, while all three of them are capable of getting in the 800′s in that hole. The honors went to Dane who got both McNasties, a phonix, some sick loops and cartwheel combos as well. The Squirt competition was fun to watch as you had the traditional squirt boaters and the playboats both competing. The rules make it nearly impossible for a playboat to win the competition, however watching their flatwater routines is inspiring. Tomas from Poland was amazing! Clay hurt his shoulder the day before on the Green and was not at full capacity, leaving Dane to take the honors with a 1260 point ride, giving both Dane and Clay a win and a second going into the final event at NOC.”

Competitors, supporters and fans will now head to Bryson City, N.C.’s Nantahala River and Nantahala Outdoor Center to pit skills on the new play feature there September 7-9 for final World Cup Event #3. “This is going to be a high-energy event that will host some of the top whitewater athletes in the world,” said Zuzana Vanha, event director with the Nantahala Gorge Organizing Committee. “It gives us an opportunity to really showcase the southeast and western North Carolina with people from around the world.” The winner of this weekend’s events will be named 2012 World Cup Champion.

Dane Jackson remains a favorite. He won four medals at the 2011 World Championship in Plattling (GER) and represented North and South America in a freestyle exhibit at the Canoe Slalom competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

“The Nantahala is the most important of the three,” said Csonka, now in the lead for the men’s World Cup title. “Because that is where the World Championships will be next year.” Csonka, along with many other international athletes who have been training in the Southeast for the past month in preparation for the World Cup, plans to return to western North Carolina in the spring of 2013 to complete his preparation for the upcoming World Championships.

For now, however, all are focused on the World Cup Final. “Each event, each ride, has to be taken as a single unit,” said competitor Kathleen Levitt, of Chattanooga, TN. “You have to put both the good and the bad ones behind you, and concentrate on the task at hand.” Levitt, who is an artist and metal-worker as well as an athlete, has been commissioned to make the awards for the World Cup overall champion.

Stay tuned for more World Cup coverage here at PaddlingLife.net.

Aaron Bible

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