The day has finally arrived when a woman has topped a man’s score in whitewater paddling. Claire O’Hara (GBR) scored 1950 in the Women’s Squirt class at the International Canoe Federation Canoe Freestyle World Championship preliminaries on Tuesday. The top score in the Men’s Division was Jamie Austen, also of Great Britain, with 1766, nearly 200 points less than O’Hara.
O’Hara, the defending Women’s World Squirt Champ, was understandably pleased with the day’s results which included finishing in third place in the Women’s Kayak Division (K1W), behind reigning World Champion Emily Jackson and 2007 World Champion Ruth Gordon Ebens. “I’m thrilled,” O’Hara said noting she still has to focus on winning the next rounds in both divisions.
Advancing with O’Hara to the final round is Motoko Ishida (JPN), Islay Crosbie (GBR), Devon Barker (USA) and Lou Turner (GBR).
The US Men made big inroads to the traditional British stronghold on Squirt. Three of the top five finalists are American including Colin Kemp, Jeremy Laucks and Dane Jackson, competing in the second of four events for which he is qualified here at these Worlds. Joining Austen and the Americans in the Men’s Final is Austen’s teammate Seth Ashworth (GBR).
Brother and sister Dane and Emily Jackson came out on top in their respective classes in preliminary rounds at the opening day of the International Canoe Federation’s Canoe Freestyle World Championships.
Emily Jackson, the defending women’s World Champion put together an impressive routine with lots of high-scoring moves to tally 1043 points, more than 400 points ahead of second place Ruth Gordon (CAN), Jackson’s friend and training partner. Claire O’Hara (GBR) came in third with 563 points. O’Hara had a big day as she also was the top scorer, male or female, in the Squirt Preliminaries. Jackson said she was pleased with her rides:
The water level was pretty similar to what we’ve been practicing on for the past two days so it was just a matter of executing the routine I’ve been practicing and not letting my head get in the way.
Twenty of the fourty-five women advance to the Quarter Finals scheduled tomorrow afternoon.
In C1, Jackson’s little brother, Dane, had a bit of a close call on his way to finishing on top of his division. German C1 Champion Philipp Hitzigrath’s first ride scored higher than either of Jackson’s two rides but the American’s combined score after two rides was higher, 1293 points, to Hitzigrath’s 1140. Rounding out the top three spots was veteran C1 competitor Igor Juanikorena of Spain.
Jackson said he would have to focus on throwing his moves a little more quickly in order to keep ahead of Hitzigrath in future rounds; a total of ten men advance to the next and semifinal round.