Saturday in the Nantahala Gorge, competitors didn’t let a little rain stop them from throwing down at the 2012 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Cup Final. Despite the weather, high scores and exciting rides were the order of the day. Three classes; the C1 Men’s, the K1 Women’s and the K1 Men’s competed in two rounds today - a feat of physical and mental endurance.
After the preliminary round this morning, Dane Jackson sat comfortably in the top spot, with Peter Csonka, the winner of the first two World Cup events, in second. The evening semifinals saw Csonka fight back into first with an amazing 1350-point ride. Jackson took the second spot, with Joaquim Fontane taking third. The Women’s K1 semifinal saw the Pigeon River Champion, Claire O’Hara, in first with a commanding lead. Emily Jackson and Nina Csonkova rounded out the podium spots, both demonstrating their technical skill and aerial prowess.
High-flying Brendon Orton narrowly beat out Hunter Katich for the top spot in the Junior Men’s K1 semifinal. Brandon Hepburn took the third position. These Junior Men continued to impress both judges and the crowds on shore, throwing out huge tricks, linked moves, and big scores.
In the Men’s C1 semifinal the athletes showed that half a paddle doesn’t mean half the skill, or half the air. Jordan Poffenberger took the top spot, throwing out huge aerial tricks and combos. Dane Jackson, a competitor in all four Men’s events, took second, while crowd favorite Seth Chapelle took third.
The Nantahala River is the site of the final event of the 2012 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Cup, as well as the 2013 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championship. NOC Pigeon River employee Monica Summerville said, “We were excited to see the tight competition at the Pigeon, and the athletes here are taking things even further!” The event is running smoothly thanks to all of the volunteers, including students from Southwestern Community College. Instructor Stephan Hart commented, “What a great experience for outdoor leadership students, to be participating in an international outdoor recreation event.”
Don’t miss the final day of competition, where the winners for not only this event, but also the overall World Cup series, will be decided. The athletes will be throwing out their best and biggest moves to impress the judges. For up to the minute results and streaming video, visit www.freestylekayaking2013.com.