Select Page

August 28, 2006

There was plenty excitement, drama, intense competition, successes, and failures in USA Team Selection Trials for the 2007 World Freestyle Championships on the Buseater Wave on the Ottawa River. The day before the competition the water levels rose to blow out the foam pile that acts as a catcher’s mitt on top of the Garberator. The runway down the middle got narrower as the diagonals that feed into the wave closed in making precise take off and landings required if you wanted to stick moves. Many of the biggest tricks and hardest moves became too risky for most people to try, but yet other’s used it as a way to distance themselves from the pack.

The best paddlers in the USA were out in force hoping to win their shot at competing for the USA in next year’s World Championships, held right here in North America (1st time in 10 years). Kristine, who is president of the USFKA headed up scoring, while the judging was held down by Jimmy Blakeney, Shane Benedict, and Nick Troutman. Tanya Faux (Australia) also helped with judging. Wilderness Tours helped with the grand stands, sound system, food, etc..

The event started off with the Men’s Pro Class doing prelims. The first cut was all of the way to 10 from 35. Since I have a bye as the current world champion, if I make the cut we simply added a person to it. The first casualty was Clay Wright who was paddling awesome, but flushed early on all 4 rides and was one place out from the first cut. Marlow Long had two great rides to put him in first place. I had the highest scoring ride, but my second ride was not as good as Marlow, which put me in second. On one ride I got zero points, zipping off of the side of the wave like a rocket, and not turning back fast enough. That was a wake up call! Jay, Stephen, Dustin Urban, Andrew Holcomb, Rush Sturges, Todd Baker, Bryan Kirk, Karl Moser, and two more I can’t remember off of the top of my head made the first cut. Junior women were next and there were only two. This is the casualty of having USA trials in Canada, you only get those willing to travel further to them. That’s OK because the junior women’s team is looking awesome! Brin, paddling a Jackson Kayak Star took second place and Emily paddling her pink Star won. It wasn’t her winning that was so impressive, but the fact that her scores would have put her in 4th in the Men’s Pro class and would have been 1st in the Women’s pro class!

In the women’s Kayak class they did a big cut down to 5 women. Those women where Devon Barker, Tanya Shuman, Hannah Farrar, Katie Selby, and ?? I met the 5th one but don’t remember her name, sorry. (I will post full results tomorrow when Kristine sends them to me.

In the junior men’s class there were 4 heats that were eliminated down to one heat. Dane won prelims by a lot, getting enough points to be in 4th place in the men’s pro class, 5 points ahead of Emily. Justin Patt, Alex Mohn, Michael McLaren, and Billy Boylan (2005 National Champion) all made the top 5. 13 year old Jason Craig (current USA national champion) had one great ride but missed the finals by only a couple of points getting 7th.

In the C1 Class Joe Stumpfel won prelims with a single great ride, followed by Brooks Baldwin, then Seth Chapelle, Dan Burke, Jeremy Lauks, and Glen Warner, Thomas from Maine, and I don’t remember after that.

There was some confusion about team trials for open canoe and only Jeremy Lauks was there. One of the two spots where filled by Jeremy, and the other open boaters are having a second trials somewhere else.

OK so now there are 10 men that need cut down to 5. Those 5 will each hold a coveted spot on the USA Freestyle Kayak Team, something that I can tell you is hard to beat. The USA dominates freestyle competition, not exclusively by any means, but if you make the USA Team you can say you are one of the best in the world, but it would already be assumed before anyone even sees you paddle. In the first heat Jay and Stephen had great rides, each on their final ride. Andrew Holcomb also had a sick ride so it was Andrew, Jay, and Steven in top three after the first heat of 5. There were 5 left to go. Marlow, Rush, Dustin, Bryan Kirk, and I (I don’t count in the top 5 so it is 5 men, besides me). After we had done two rides Andrew was still winning, then Jay but Stephen had moved into 4th. On the 3rd and final ride, Marlow tied Stephen Wright’s score, but his biggest trick was bigger than Stephen’s, breaking the tie. Dustin and Rush both had awesome rides. Rush got both clean air blunts, and a Pan Am one way, as well as airblunts, backstabs, and going for an airscrew. Dustin did sweet tall Pan Ams. His lefty was awesome. Going for broke he went for a Blunt/McNasty combo but flushed without completing the McNasty. My final ride was needed to get into finals, or at least I was close to the bubble. I used my new secret weapon to throw big Pan Ams both ways, a Helix right, air blunts, backstabs, flip turn, and air screw left in a final clutch ride.

The USA Men’s Team was selected, and only the order of the team was left to decide in finals:

The 2007 USA Freestyle Men’s Team
Eric Jackson- Jackson Kayak
Jay Kincaid – Jackson Kayak
Rush Sturges- Dagger
Dustin Urban- Dagger
Marlow Long- Liquid Logic
Andrew Holcomb- Dagger

In Finals it was simply a contest to see what the pecking order of the team would be. “top boat” is a term used and it was decided that the top 5 guys would do a finals to determine that order.

Men’s Finals:

My first ride set the pace with a 77 point ride, which was Pan Ams with Huge bonuses (how high), big airblunts, a helix and airscrew. I didn’t have a good wave for the first 10 seconds or so and front surfed back and forth trying to get a good runway to take off on. Once it opened up I was able to start flying and had a strong 35 seconds, not missing any passes. Andrew Holcomb had an awesome first ride also getting his signature Pan Am/airscrew mix (it is ½ airscrew, ½ panam) that he won USA Team trials with in 2004 here on Garb. He also got his backstab down which was eluding him in practice a few weeks ago. He went for a cross bow righty airscrew too which was scary to watch. His stroke drove the boat deep in the water and he popped up way downstream. Jay had a bad first ride flushing early, but his second one was going awesome and it looked like he was finally going to get a Jay Kincaid ride but flushed right before his big moves were about to start. Rush had pretty good rides and very impressive consistent clean air blunts. He was really showing some skill on his rides but never got everything he went for. Dustin did a similar routine in finals with his sweet tall lefty Pan Am, but went for the Blunt/McNasty combo again and didn’t nail it. It is a cool move there at the Garb and Stephen has it dialed at lower water, but at this level there is no foam to catch you when you come flying back up the wave. Marlow didn’t have the mojo on his finals rides, flushing early and not getting in the groove like in prelims. Marlow put on a great show in prelims nailing moves on every pass and really looking like he was having fun doing it too.

I was last to go and it was already announced that I had won and I still had one ride left. I went for a big McNasty as my opening move for my victory lap and was so happy to be able to take the top position again with all of this competition and especially since it was a wave competition.

USA Men’s Kayak Team Order

1st EJ- Jackson Kayak
2nd Andrew Holcomb- Dagger
3rd Rush Sturges- Dagger
4th Dustin Urban- Dagger
5th Marlow Long- Liquid Logic
6th Jay Kincaid- Jackson Kayak

The finals for the Women’s class was equally exciting:

There were 5 women left and only 3 make the team. After first runs, Devon was in first place but only because the other 4 girls flushed on their first move and Devons first move was bigger (she flushed too). After second runs, Devon was in 3rd with Hannah Farrar in 2nd and Tanya Shuman in 1st. After the 5th and 4th place girls went on their 3rd and final ride and didn’t beat Devons current score, it was set. Tanya, Hannah, and Devon would make the USA Womens Team! The only thing left was for the order to be determined and it was Devon’s turn. Devon hit the wave and was all smiles, like a huge weight had been lifted off of her shoulders and she started throwing down! She came in with a 32 point ride to move into 1st place ahead of Tanya with 26 points and Hannah with 21 points. Hannah and Tanya both went on their final ride but failed to improve on their scores setting the team order:

1st Devon Barker- Jackson Kayak
2nd Tanya Shuman- Wavesport
3rd Hannah Farrar- Wavesport

In the Junior men’s class there were 5 boys left and Dane was one of them. The team size is 3 so 2 boys would be eliminated. Sure Dane had won prelims and his score would have put him in 4th in men’s pro, but he is 13 years old and known to try new moves for the first time in a big competition and the junior boys is one of the USA’s strongest classes. I sat on Moby Dick (the rock Dane seal launches off of into the Garb) with Dane and tried to be there for him, coaching him if he wanted. He was only wearing a rash guard and the sun was behind the trees and it was windy. It was getting cold and Dane was freezing. I watched him sit on the rock shivering and thinking how could I be such an idiot not to pay attention to what he was wearing before his heat. He didn’t complain, he just was obviously cold and wanted to hurry up and paddle. Dane’s first ride put him in 1st place after the other 4 boys went. After 2nd runs Dane moved into 4th place and would not be on the team unless he had a really good 3rd and final ride. I was full of coaching that I wanted to tell him but tried not to fill his brain up with too much stuff. At 13 I don’t know how much would confuse him. My coaching was simply, “you need a 45 to make the team and you got a 54 in prelims, can you do that again?” He said, “oh yea, I’ll do that” and it was his turn. He pushed his boat up on top of Moby Dick and got into position, and slid off the top of the rock, falling right onto the corner of the wave and hit the Garb and got swallowed and out of control and came flying out of the foam on his back deck and eyes closed shooting over to the safety zone. He knew where he was but was obviously freeked out and his face was bright red. He quickly eyed the wave and let two passes go by, not liking the runway, and then started letting moves fly one after another, getting blunts, backstabs, panams, and an airscrew to flush to finish and that put him way over the top back into first place and on the 2007 USA team.

Order of junior boys (sorry about the names, this is off of memory)

1st Dane Jackson- Jackson Kayak
2nd Mclaren, (not ian but the other one)- Wavesport
3rd Alex Mohan- Wavesport
4th Justin Patt- Dagger
5th- ?

C1 finals were also awesome-

Joe Stumpfel had the best ride, followed by Dan Burke, then Seth Chappel, Brooks Baldwin, and Jeremy Lauks

USA C1 Team

1st- Joe Stumpfel- Wavesport
2nd Dan Burke- Jackson Kayak

USA Junior Women’s Team

1st- Emily Jackson- Jackson Kayak
2nd Brin- Jackson Kayak

I am incredibly proud of Team Jackson Kayak and their representation on the USA Team. The representation looks like this:

Jackson Kayak: 7 boats
Wavesport: 5 boats
Dagger: 3 boats
Liquid Logic: 1 boat

This is the first world championships where we have the highest representation. At the world championships each country pulls together as a unified team, and Team USA has great camaraderie at the event. What manufacturer’s team we are on is immaterial.

Look for solid results from Team USA at the 2007 World Championships coming up next May on BusEater (BIG WAVE) on the Ottawa. Don’t forget to bring your raincoat, had, and gloves if you are coming to watch!

🙂 EJ