Inside the 2013 Freestyle Worlds with Stephen Wright – Report #4
Day 4 of competition.
It’s been a fantastic time for all of the athletes living at NOC for the past few weeks! In addition to the kayaking, this place has tons of other adventures to enjoy: rafting, canopy tours/high ropes, three restaurants, the NOC outfitter store, the Appalachian Trail, great mountain biking just up the road, Disc golf within driving distance, recreational mosquito killing in the evenings, nature hikes through the poison ivy and briar patches, etc…..but seriously, this place really is one of the premiere destinations for outdoor adventures in North America.
It’s pretty sweet to wake up and head down to River’s End Restaurant and be served by the infamous Zwick (a well-known rapid on the Green Narrows is named for him, among other things). His morning special is a coffee, hot chocolate, and fresh mint combination that could bring tears to the eyes of a Starbucks barista. River’s End is an area favorite for it’s burgers, pizza, and 80’s music that plays night and day after day after day. Big Wesser BBQ has all your pulled pork, ribs, southern comfort food, and bar needs. Relia’s caters to higher-end menu desires. It sure beats Ramen on a camp stove! You can see why countless kayakers and adventurers have enjoyed NOC for decades.
Today the Women and C-1ers finally got to paddle, and the Men’s class made a big cut to 10 paddlers. In the Women’s class, no surprises as current World Champion Claire O’hara (GBR) almost doubled the next closest score of Ruth Gordon-Ebens (CAN). Japan’s Hitomi Takaku took the 3rd place spot. The C-1 class was taken by the USA’s own Jordan Poffenberger, followed by Tad Dennis (also from the USA). In keeping with tradition, the C-1ers still only used one paddle blade this year and kneeled in their kayaks.
The Men’s Quarter Finals was ridiculously exciting. Dane Jackson (USA) ended up in first again, but there were several tense moments until the end of the last round. Mathieu Dumoulin (FRA) nearly matched Dane’s highest ride score, but ultimately finished 500 points behind the leader. Scores were HUGE this time around, with athletes needing combined a two-ride combined score of nearly 1800 points just to be in the top 10! Shockingly current World Champion James “Pringle” Bebbington didn’t make the cut to semi-finals.
The freestyle action was followed by an epic 8-Ball Race, which is like a head to head race with one important difference. Six “8-Baller” kayakers wearing black bibs sit waiting through the race course, ready to smash into the racers. Once the boater cross racers start racing, the 8-Ballers sprint out and try to run the racers into the shore to prevent them from being fast. Lots of carnage, frustration, and laughing is a recipe that made this a crowd favorite. Matt Hamilton (CAN) claimed victory, and won himself a brand new Dagger Mamba. Now that it’s the weekend, this place is really turning into a kicking festival all day and night. Vendor booths are popping up everywhere, and lots of people are pouring into NOC. The excitement is palpable. More good times to follow!
Live from the ICF Freestyle Kayak World Championships,
All results: http://www.noc.com/scoreboard/pdfs/