European paddlers made inroads on the whitewater powerhouse that has been North America for the past few years during semifinal rounds were held here today during the International Canoe Federation Freestyle Kayak World Championships.
The following is a summary of results by class.
Peter Csonka (CZE) kept a firm grip on his position as top seed by yet a second day in a row of powerful, high-scoring routines. Csonka, 2007 World silver medalist, clearly seems to have shaken off the rough start he got in prelims where flushy rides meant he scored just barely enough to made the cut to the quarterfinal round of 25. Csonka said this is the closest and best play spot to his home in Slovakia so he has been training here more than a dozen years. Defending champ Nick Troutman (CAN) and 2009 bronze medalist Stephen Wright came back from further down the starting order than they’ve been used to recently to also advance. The three will be joined in Saturday’s by Gerd Serrasoles (ESP) and James “Pringle” Bebbington (GBR).
While North American freestyle kayaking fans are used to seeing Emily Jackson (USA) and Ruth Gordon Ebens (CAN) battle it out for first and second place at pro events, some fresh faces will be joining them for Saturday’s final. Best known as a squirt specialist, Claire O’Hara (GBR) has been consistently turning in good K1 rides during this event. While no stranger to international competition, this is Nina Halosova (CZE) first time as a finalist at Worlds. Haley Mills (USA) competing in her first Worlds continued her trend of improving results each round as she earns a chance to compete for gold.
Former slalom paddlers and teammates Aito Gorkoetxea and Igor Juanikorena secured the top two positions in semifinals today bumping Team USA’s Dane Jackson from first into third place heading into finals. Philipp Hitzigrath one of only two Germans to still be alive in this competition, finished in fourth while C1 veteran Seth Chappelle (USA) edged out five-time German champion Markus Hummel by just 10 points to lock up the final slot.
Open Canoe (OC1)
As in C1, Spanish slalom paddlers again enjoyed success as a ’09 bronze World medalist Odei Areta and Adria Bosch made it to finals along with Americans Dane Jackson and Eli Helbert and Germany’s only other Worlds finalist, Tobias Huether.
Spanish team members and observers credit coach Andrew “Jacko” Jackson, who first started working with the team three years ago, for the team’s success at getting at least one finalist into every division here except women and junior women.
In junior men, Dane Jackson remained in a class of his own. The American teen posted an 1130-point single ride score that, for the second day in a row was the highest scoring ride of the competition and means he would have been the top qualifier in the men’s division as well. Also repeating his success from the previous round was second place Joaquim Fontane (ESP). The Spanish teen’s 806 points kept him in second behind Dane. Like Jackson, Fontane also would have qualified for the men’s final.
Though obviously enthusiastic about competing at Worlds, junior women’s semifinal results pointed toward a lack of consistency as eighth place Courtney Kerin (NZL) finished in first place while top-seed Hannah Kertesz (USA) didn’t make the cut to finals.