CKS Paddlefest is the beginning of the Colorado Tour for the freestyle events. It is also a big gathering of paddlers to the Arkansas River for the “summer kick off”. Snow season turns to paddling season and paddlers around the state dust off their kayaks, or buy a new one and hit the Numbers, Pine Creek, Brown’s Canyon, Salida Playpark, BV Playpark, the Town Run, and other areas of the Arkansas River. There were a ton of people out watching as the top paddlers had semi-finals, and then finals last night at the BV Playpark- in South Main development, the brain child of Jed Selby and others.
The water in Colorado is super low this year, as snow pack is at 18% of normal. Last year it was at 175% of normal! which is better? For beginners and intermediates, lower water is better. For Experts, higher water gives them more options. The competition was held in a very, very little hole. The littlest hole that any freestyle competition has ever been held in that I have competed in since my first rodeo in 1982. That was actually VERY cool. It was an entirely different type of event, with your technique having to adjust for it and making the moves took changing how you do things.
In the semi-finals- Mathieu Doumilin, who was 6th in prelims, came out hot in his first ride with over 1,000 points setting the stage for a tough semi-finals. I had two rides 780, and 750 where I missed some moves, but wasn’t sure until the scores came out. I had 1100 point rides, but only if every move scored…
Dane had a 1,200 point ride, Dustin 1100, Stephen 1000, and Nick 900 to make the top 5. I got to watch my first finals of the season… and hopefully my last!
The women competed first (I didn’t have my camera there in time to get photos). Adrienne Levknecht paddled her new carbon boat really well with some huge loops to take the lead on her first ride. Claire Ohare got a loop and a McNasty that scored and tied Adrienne. Ruth Gordon trying McNasty and Orbits on top of her loops couldn’t quite get them to stick and was in third during the entire finals just ahead of Katie Selby and Courtney Kerin (who was in second in prelims).
In the Mens’ Finals- the stage was set with French Team Member Matthieu Domoulin, World Champion Nick Troutman, Two time Bronze Medalist Stephen Wright, USA Team member and Local boy Dustin Urban, and Triple gold medal winner in the last worlds, Dane Jackson entering his third event as a senior this year (winning one and getting 3rd in another). This was a stacked finals that I got to watch, while USA team members Clay Wright, EJ, Jason Craig (we’ll talk more about him later) and 2009 team member Chris Stafford didn’t make the finals, so it was a stacked “sorry you have to watch” group too!
First rides of finals started with Nick Troutman- Canadian extraordinaire. He started with an entry move (about 6″ of foam to catch you!) and stuck it. He went for a blunt McNasty combo, some big loops, orbits, splits, backstabs, etc.. A little sloppy on a couple of moves and had to paddle back in once for a 850 point ride. Stephen went next and had some great combos with Backblunt/split/orbit combo and some other cartwheel combos and came in at 950 to take the lead. Dustin had a 700 point ride, the first one where he looked a little off on his moves for third. Matthieu came in with a solid ride in the 800s and then Dane had a ride in the 600’s putting him in 5th place. Dane looked flustered as he flushed on a blunt mcnasty and then missed some other moves and it was the first time in this competition where he wasn’t winning.
On second rides Matthieu’s score improved and put him in the lead by a big margin with 1,130 points, Dustin had a great second ride to get into second place with a 1090 and Dane had a better ride to move up into third with a 1010 and moving stephen down from first to 4th, with Nick now in 5th place. Matthieu did a ton of fast combos with cartwheels, splits, cleans, 4 point cartwheels, and did an awesome Blunt Mcnasty.
On the final rides- Nick tried really hard to take the top spot, but came short as his moves just didn’t go as he wanted, staying in 5th place. Stephen did the same, hoping to move up but didn’t improve his 950. Dustin tried to improve his 1090, but couldn’t bump over the 1130 that Matthieu had, so it was going to come down to the final two rides of the competition to see if any changes in the ranks would happen. Matthieu did his final ride, throwing some nice moves, but throwing some that weren’t going to count as well and had to settle with his 1130 second ride score. It was starting to get dark out, everyone was getting hungry, tired, and ready to go eat, as Dane waited for the thumbs up for the final ride of the day. Sitting in third place, with Matthieu from France in the lead, Dane was on the other side of the river sitting on a rock singing along with the music being blasted on the PA system. Clay Wright was on the MIC and giving Dane a very hard time, saying things like “Dane is next, but I don’t think he has it in him to beat Matthieu. Dane won the junior world championships, but that is the toddler class” stuff like that. It was funny and Dane and Clay have a relationship where that kind of teasing in public is quite OK. Dane got the thumbs up and with his standard look on his face of “this is fun and I am not really that concerned, and “oh look at pine cone is floating into the hole with me” type of focus floated into the hole. He nailed a very elevated entry move with no issue sticking it and went right into big loops and space godzillas. His next move that he had trouble with on rides 1 and 2, a Blunt McNasty combo went huge this time racking up 290 points in about 3 seconds! His ride was going at a blistering pace, moving from one perfectly executed move to another, all of the way to the buzzer and I scored him at 1250 points without adding many bonuses. I still haven’t heard what his score was, but he took over the top spot on the last ride of the event, with an epic ride that was worth the wait for anyone thinking of leaving before it was over.
The results for Team JK overall were quite awesome with 9 out of the top 10 finishes in Rock Stars and in the Women it was 4 out of the top 5.
Dane Jackson- USA- Rock Star S
Matthieu Domoulin- France- Gui Gui Prod (carbon boat)
Dustin Urban- BV- USA- Rock Star M
Stephen Wright- USA- Rock Star M
Nick Troutman- Canada- Rock Star M
Adrienne Levkenct- USA- Carbon LL prototype
Claire O’Hara- England- Rock Star S
Ruth Gordon- Canada- Rock Star S
Katie Urban- BV-USA- Rock Star S
Courtney Kerin- New Zealand- Rock Star S
There was also the Junior class, Junior Women, and C1s. I was at the Paddlefest demo, etc.. and didn’t seen enough to be able to report on them. We’ll get you the results for that soon!
Today is another PaddleFest Day for demos, clinics, etc.. Then we head to Vail, Colorado for the Teva Mountain Games where we have the Homestake Creek Race as well as the Freestyle Event on Gore Creek in downtown, Vail. Very cool!
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