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August 16, 2008

The rain has been relentless here in Prague with the water rising slowly but continuously. The Men just finished their cut from 20 to 10 at about 5pm tonight. Yet, they/we are not finished for the day! We still have the cut from 10 to 5 left under the lights!

The first heat of 5 men had Stephen Wright in it, who got 17th in the prelims. That is an unusual place for world’s biggest air master to be in, so he decided to change his rank in this competition and came out swinging to earn himself a berth in the next round. Stepan Vohradsky, from Czech, was also in the lowest scoring heat to make the quarter finals but made it to the semis, making that two paddlers that were ranked from 16-20 moving up to the top 10. Dustin Urban from the USA, was in the 3rd heat getting a 10th place in the prelims, but decided to throw down the biggest ride of the competition so far with a 1,000 point ride putting him in third place. Thomasz Czaplicky from Poland was also moved up from a 13th in prelims to top 10 to make Semi-finals! In the Top 10 there were plenty of changes in the ranking on this round. The rides were generally better than in the prelims with 3 rides per athlete and only 2 counted. Since the water went up it was a little harder to set up the Phonics Monkey and McNasty, but yet, many of the paddlers did it anyway. There were a lot of Tricky Woos in that round too. It looked like a do or die round for many paddlers just throwing their boat around like a rag doll. Some of them were throwing trash mixed in with some quality moves. The Europeans are quite good at the Tricky Woo I must say!

The Ranking for the top 10 after quarter finals- and only for the next 90 minutes until Semi-finals is:

NickTroutman- Canada
Peter Czonka- Slovakia
Dustin Urban- USA
Eric Jackson- USA
Mathieu Dumoulin- France
Stephen Wright- USA
Thomasz Czaplicky Poland
Casper van Kalmthout- Netherlands
Stepan Vohradsky- Czech Republic

Clay Wright missed out on this round with a 17th place just two out and not by many points.

Now for the last cut of the night for the men- the Semi-Finals where we go from 10 to 5 for the finals tomorrow! Peter Czonka actually told me that he was frightened of paddling under the lights because it was hard. While, he may do great, and I hope he does, it sounds like he is psyching himself out already. I am quite happy to go under the lights. We spent much of last winter under the lights at Rock Island because they released the water at night time. I got to compete in the 2001 Semi-Finals at the Worlds in very similar circumstances- water came up higher and the paddlers were all fired up and nervous with the lights. The weather was nice so there were thousands of spectators. Here the weather is so miserable today that umbrellas, and rain coats, and winter clothes are required! The only spectators are friends and family and other paddlers. I am not watching the junior men go because I need a break from the cold and wet before my event, for example.