Surprise…Not: Kincaid Takes Reno Festival Crown
We’re not gamblin’ men, like those who frequent casinos, but if we were you can bet we’d put our money on Jay Kincaid in any event in his hometown of Reno, Nevada. The hometown hero won the inaugural Reno River Festival in 2004, lost to four-time World Freestyle Kayak Champion (and his current boss) Eric Jackson in 2005 and 2006, and this time, after a disappointing finish at the Worlds on the Ottawa, was poised for the podium.
Despite being knocked out of the running in the BoaterCross event by Ben Guska and Bryan Kirk – like hitting 22 in blackjack – Kincaid nailed a Phonix Monkey, Airwheeel, Space Godzilla and Tricky-Woo (if you know what those are) to perfection, taking home top honors and top prize from a feather-adorned showgirl. Jackson ended second and Kirk was third. For the women, it was WaveSport’s Tanya Faux out-dueling Emily Jackson, and for the juniors, Jason Craig narrowly defeating EJ Junior, Dane Jackson, to command the podium.
“Every year the competition is very close here in Reno,” says Kincaid. “I felt like I had a good plan and a good routine, but with competition being so stiff, if you missed one move in your minute ride you might get beat. Anybody that was there will tell you that the level of freestyle across the board was through the roof, and I am very proud to be able to win this event in my home town.”
Adds EJ, who was fresh from a win at the Worlds: “The final score was 139 to 142 or something. It was a go either way in the finals for sure and they didn’t announce the winner until the awards, which was very cool.”
Held on the Truckee River May 10-13 in downtown Reno, the Reno River Festival, now in its 4th year, has evolved into one of the nation’s top kayaking competitions, drawing pros from around the world and a three-day crowd of up to 25,000 people. A lot of this is due to the event’s $10,000 purse, and a lot is due to its setting and atmosphere in the River Walk district, which brims with hip new restaurants, cafes, ultra lounges, bars, shops and galleries. The festival also includes a weekend full of competitions, demos, clinics, live music and a product expo. “Typically, you’d associate a whitewater festival with a more wilderness canyon,” says competition organizer Jim Litchfield, who managed the design team that rechanneled the river. “But the Reno event is surrounded by riverside taverns, restaurants and hotels, and an island contains a park and amphitheater where live music played throughout the festival.”
With many fresh—or not so fresh–from the Worlds a week earlier, kayakers on hand competed in three events: boater cross, a short sprint through the man-made whitewater course; a 4-mile down-river race; and the crown jewel freestyle event. This year, all events were open, pitting qualified amateurs against pros in both the men’s and women’s divisions.
Next stop for Kincaid? Defending his title at the Paddling Life Pro Invitational (sponsored by Steamboat in the Summertime) May 28 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and then the Teva Mountain games in Vail. Info: www.renoriverfestival.com.
1st Jason Craig – JK Shooting Star
2nd Dane Jackson – JK Shooting Star
3rd Jonathan Shales – JK All-star
1st Tanya Faux – WS
2nd Emily Jackson – JK Star
3rd Nikki Kelly – Dagger
1st Jay Kincaid – Super-star (finally got it)
2nd Eric Jackson – All-star
3rd Bryan Kirk – WS
1st: Jud Kaiser – JK Super Hero
1st Jud Kaiser
Special “There I Was” Moment by Ben Guska
(from Jackson Kayaks.com)
Well looking back on the last four weeks it has truly been a great time here! In the words of Hobie “I love Reno”! It has been truly exciting! I first got here and started training with Erin Babcock and Scott Sady! Looking back I remember Erin being so nervous to get into the hole! Four weeks later she is competing in front of over 8,500 people! All I can say is she had the biggest grin on her face and it truly looked like she was having a lot of fun! Scott also had a great time! He had a few rough rides but in the end he is paddling better then ever and now knows what its like to compete! I couldn’t be happier with the way they done, and with the hard work they truly put into it!
As for myself I spent everyday down at the hole working on new moves. This is by far one of the toughest competitions in the country. Secondly its my First competition of the year so it’s a toll getting the jitters out. My first prelims ride set me in 7th place. I wasn’t super happy with my rides as I blew my first moves right off the start. At semis they cut from 12 to six. I was on the bubble coming in. I went in again and blew my first ride! I rolled up and made my way back to the hole and managed to get a score of 100! This was the first time in my life I hit 100! I won my heat and managed to move up to 6. I was in a heat with Bryan Kirk, Stephen Wright, Jay Kincaid, Andrew Holcombe, and Eric Jackson! No pressure here haha…I finally went out and hit my first move off the start, and continued my ride! I managed to get a 112 points in the end and was very happy with how I was paddling! Although not enough to win, this has been a huge step of progress and its only going to help me in the next few weeks competing in Colorado. I was super amped to see Jay win as he has really been training hard for this! Congrats to EJ and Bryan Kirk as well! Everybody was paddling so well!
As for boater cross Bryan Kirk and I advanced because our third person didn’t show up! We got to just float through! After that Bryan and I continued to advance knocking out Jay Kincaid. It was a true battle in the beginning! I managed to get out ahead and win the heat! Finally im in the semis yet again with some big names! Tao Berman, Bryan Kirk, Andrew Holcombe and myself managed a rough start. I was battling constantly with Andrew until hole 3! Here he managed to knock me into a hole and I got a little surfed. It was enough to let him back into second and advance! A truly fun round indeed! This was my second boatercross in my life and im finding a new love for it! Very fun!
Overall this weekend has been very tiring, and exciting at the same time! Im leaving back to Colorado here in the next day or so to start training for the Teva Games. A lot of my friends are getting back from College so it will be nice to see them again! Im super amped on my paddling, and im super amped on my All-Star! South Canyon wave should be coming in here soon, so I can finally get the boat on a wave! Im overall amped on how it performs so far and im excited to see what comes of it here in the next few weeks! I want to shout out to Jim Litchfield with Fluid Concepts for all the hard work he puts in to make this happen! I’ll keep more posted on Colorado here in the next few days as it’s my home state!