Jacksons Sweep World Cup, Georgia Venue Sweeps Hearts

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While Dane and Emily Jackson swept October’s ICF Freestyle World Cup competition, it was the venue on the Chattahoochee River’s new Rush South Whitewater Park in Columbus, Georgia, that truly stole the show. The event marked the first time the venue has hosted such a prestigious event, with all signs pointing to plenty more to come.

More than 98 athletes from 16 countries competed at the event, which featured one of the best holes in any recent competition.

“It was a really good first time opportunity for our community,” says Tracey Green, director of communications and marketing for Uptown Columbus. “We’re going to see an impact from all of our businesses in the community,” she said. “Some people were here for more than two months, staying in local lodging and eating and dining in our local restaurants and shopping in our businesses and grocery stores.”

She adds that the ICF World Championship would take place in the same location in October 2023. “For that, we’re expecting more than double the athlete participation and double the countries that are participating,” she says, adding they expect to see as many as 30 countries and 300 athletes competing at the event next year.”

freestyle world cup
Mason Hargrove en route to the bronze.

As for results at this year’s World Cup of freestyle, it was familiar faces on the podium. Dane Jackson recovered from leaving his paddle behind on his opening ride and not posting a score, but delivered 1598.33 at his second attempt, which was enough to secure the gold. Winning her last world title in 2015, sister Emily, 32, meanwhile, broke through for gold on the final day as well, pulling off an upset in beating red-hot favorite Ottilie Robinson-Shaw in the women’s kayak final. Jackson posted a score of 590 to inflict the first defeat of Robinson-Shaw in 2022. American teammate Darby McAdams delivered a 373.33 ride to also finish ahead of the Brit, with Robinson-Shaw (345) finishing with the bronze.

For the men, Great Britain’s Robert Crowe finished second with 1286.67 points, while Mason Hargrove’s final ride of 1223.33 was enough to take bronze.

Other World Cup Freestyle Results

Japanese teenager Nanese Okazaki and American teenager Makinley Kate Hargrove also picked up titles. Okazaki won two junior world cup golds, his latest on Sunday with a 50-point win over New Zealand’s Matteo Williams. Okazaki’s gold medal ride totaled 665 points. Williams finished with 615 and Finland’s Onni Eronen took bronze with 538.33 points.

Makinley Kate Hargrove took advantage of her local knowledge to pick up her second gold for the week. On Sunday she posted 576.67 on her first ride, enough to secure the gold medal over Canada’s Sophie Gilfillan, with Great Britain’s Niamh Macken taking bronze.

freestyle world cupIn other results, American Landon Miller took gold in the men’s open canoe surface final, finishing ahead of fellow American, Seth Chapelle. Chapelle triumphed later in the day in the men’s canoe decked final, with an opening ride of 663.33,which was enough to edge out fellow American Jordan Poffenberger, who posted 643.33 on his second outing. Chapelle and Poffenberger also filled the top two placings in the opening world cup.

The final standings after the two world cups saw Emily Jackson ahead of Ottilie Robinson-Shaw on a countback in women’s kayak, brother Dane taking the men’s kayak honours, Robinson-Shaw in canoe, Seth Chapelle in men’s canoe surface and decked, Nanese Okazaki in men’s junior kayak, and Makinley Kate Hargrove in the women’s junior.

The two freestyle world cups serve as a test run ahead of next year’s ICF World Championships at the same venue.

Read a firsthand account from Emily Jackson HERE

—Photos by Rob Giersch & Peter Holcombe

(www.robgierschphotography.com/)

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