When I heard that the National Championships were going to be held on the Pigeon River at the hole the local NOC raft guides made by hand, I was fired up, knowing that this is the best hole in the Southeast, as well as one of the best in the country for a freestyle competition. The scores would be high, and the paddlers would be having fun.
It was done in pure competition style, meaning, no frills, no sponsors, no entry fees, and 100% by volunteer organization and judging. USFKA put it together, and NOC provided access to their outpost, as well as a PA system, clip boards, and judges scribe sheets.
It was a one day, 6 hour event, that ended just on time. Men’s kayak class had to go from Prelims, straight to finals, with no semi-finals, due to time constraints, but it was organized well in advance, so the paddlers knew about this before prelims, and the organizers put 7 people in finals to make up for it.
The competition started with OC1, where Dane, Jordan, and Tad Dennis had their finals straight away and Dane took the honors, with Jordan second, and Tad third.
These boys went straight to their C1 rides, and Seth Chappelle joined. Dane and Seth battled it out for the win with 900+ point rides and Seth took it on his final ride going over 1000 points! Tad Denis was third and Jordan fourth.
In the Junior Women’s class it was Sage Donnelly against Rowan Stuart. Sage is only 13 years old and too young to compete as a junior in this years world championships. She was not too young to get a 510 point ride and take the win, however. Rowan was next with over 300 points and also getting some big moves. Sierra was third.
In the junior Men’s Class- lots of fast and big moves were being thrown with the USA Junior men’s team taking the top three spots with Hunter first, Alec second, and Bennett third.
In the Women’s Class it was a battle between Emily, Adrienne, Kat, and Haley. Each of them taking turns at or near the top. Emily beat out Adrienne on her final ride nailing her Mcnasty which eluded her in the first two rides. Haley was third, and Kat Levit was fourth.
In the Men’s Kayak Class- it cut from 25 to 7 straight away to save time as we had limited water. I was bubble boy in 7th place in prelims, WHEW! In finals Dane took the lead with first runs and I was in third. After second runs I got bumped to 5th with a 1250 point ride. On third runs, I got a 1670 putting me in third behind Dane and Jason with 2150 and 2030 respectively. WHAT?? Yes, third place with a 1670, that is crazy. The boys were on fire. Clay had an awesome second ride with 1450 points, and Stephen was 5th with a 1370, Bryan Kirk 6th with a 1320, and Tommy Yonn was 7th with a 1200.
I didn’t see the squirt competition, but Stephen won, then Clay, and then Chris Singletary.
The big winner for this event was the hole that the raft guides made, awesome! Thanks and great job! Alex Wolff competed in the Men’s class and was one of the guys who helped make it.
The new Rock Star swept the men’s class 1st-5th again, won the women’s, swept the Junior men and won the junior women.
Great competition- low key event, but high octane competition!