My what a tangled, watery Web the USACK weaves.
While the picture is clearer as to who will represent the U.S. in this summer’s Beijing Olympics after the Olympic Team Trials in Charlotte, S.C, April 25-27, nothing’s yet for certain, with the final team not being selected until the final world cup race of the season in Augsburg, German, July 4-6.
“It’s gotten pretty complicated,” says former U.S. team member Jason Beakes. “It used to be that you’d show up at the team trials, race, and then know if you made the team or not. Now it’s a lot more complicated, which makes it tougher on the athletes.”
The good news is that the U.S. fared well. “By virtue of good results on Saturday, the U.S. will field a full whitewater team at the Olympic Games in Beijing,” says 1992 C-2 gold medalist Joe Jacobi.
Here’s the breakdown, as PL sees it:
K1W: With Zuzana Vanha edging out Nee Ashley 2:25 to 2:29, she’s the front-runner for the lone women’s kayak spot heading into Augsburg
K1M: Brett Heyl had the run of his life, besting favorite Scott Parsons 1:83.65 to 1:85.60. But Parsons still has the edge heading into Augsburg, based on his points accrued at last fall’s World Championships.
C-2: Virtually sewn up by Scott McClesky and Austin Crane, who narrowly edged out Casey Eichfield and Richard Powell 2:15:59 to 2:16:58
C-1: Jeff Larimer’s blistering C-1 run of 1:95:72 has him now duking it out with Atlanta’s Benn Fraker (1:95:83) in Augsburg for the lone C-1 spot
If anyone understands the process, it’s Jacobi, who will serve as NBC’s color commentator at the Games. “At the Trials, there are three days of racing in which you drop your worst day. After that, there is a system that puts the competitors in numerical order where the following points are awarded: 1st – 30 points; 2nd – 29; 3rd – 28. Only the top 3 move forward to the World Cup, which is the +final opportunity to add more points to their scores – most points after the Augsburg World Cup will be the Olympic boat, with tiebreakers going back to order at Trials in Charlotte.”
In K1, by virtue of his 7th place finish at last fall’s World Championships, Scott Parsons brought nine points into the Trials this weekend in Charlotte. So now, for K1 the points look like this heading into Augsburg:
Scott Parsons – 38 points (2nd at Trials plus 9 points)
Brett Heyl – 30 points (1st at Trials)
Scott Mann – 28 points (3rd at Trials)
What’s all this mean for Augsburg? According to Jacobi, in men’s kayak, a very good race by Brett or Scott Mann could land them in Beijing. “Heyl or Mann need to have a great run, while hoping Parsons doesn’t do well enough to add points that prevent their overtake,” he says. “And remember, this is a World Cup, so you have international boats from all over the world to hopefully create bigger gaps and the other guys on your own team.”
In the other classes, the margins are small – 2 points between 3rd and 1st boats, meaning anything could happen to affect the current standings.
“It’s certainly convoluted,” he says. “But I guess but now that Charlotte is over, it’s easier to see possibilities.”