Inside the 2013 Freestyle Worlds with Stephen Wright – Report #5
Day 5 of competition – Semi Finals by Night.
Today was the semi final rounds for many classes. All but the top five paddlers in each discipline are now no longer allowed to kayak. Many expectations were met and exceeded, and there were some big surprises as well. Lasting memories from Saturday for most of us will be of the incredible show that began at 9:00 pm, and went on until 11:00 pm. Night competitions just have a unique energy that’s almost palpable: important things happen at night. The Women’s and Men’s semi-finals were held under stadium lights, with every effort made to build huge production value for thousands of screaming fans here and countless more online.
The first thing to realize is how massive an effort it takes to light up an area like this. Athletes need lights overhead and slightly downstream to avoid casting shadows into the bottom of the hole, or blinding them. Spectators like lights upstream so that they can see the athletes faces as they splash around blind in the river. NOC brought in fourteen HUGE stadium lights to create a near-daylight experience with illumination from all directions (for comparison, the last world championships had a night round, which used only two small construction light). In addition to the lighting, each athlete was brought down onto an island in the middle of the river in front of the crowd to do a quick interview before the competition round began.
Announcers Jez, Hobie, and Corey did a fantastic job of ramping up the energy all night. The hovering octocopter provided SWEET footage for the jumbotron. There was electricity in the air for two full hours. For many, tonight was the stuff that dreams were made of.
So how did all the semi-finals come out? In the Men’s squirt, Clay Wright (USA) overtook Dane Jackson for the top position, while in the Women’s class Claire O’hara (GBR) put down the single highest scoring ride for either gender for the win. Jr Men’s competition posted slightly lower scores than prelims, but fantastic rides put Alec Voorhees (USA) into the lead spot.History was made as Tad Dennis (USA) became the first C-1er to score over 1,000 points in a single ride with 1,086. Women’s K1 saw Claire O’hara maintain her lead, after a low-scoring first ride. The Men’s K1 had some shockers.
No surprise that Dane Jackson (USA) is still #1, but Matheiu Dumoulin (FRA), who has been nipping at Dane’s heels all week, shocked spectators as he failed to make the cut. Also barely missing out was Jason Craig, who was only two points shy of the 5th place position (which was incredible, as his shoulder actually dislocated mid-ride, and he continued to throw tricks until the buzzer stopped him. He managed to score 1056 points practically with one arm tied behind his back).
Huge congrats to all athletes who will be competing in finals tomorrow. The big day is almost here. The race is almost run. It’s now midnight, and the band is in full swing.
Live from NOC,
Women’s Semi finals – Top 5 advance to finals
1 O’Hara Claire GBR
2 Kulkova Ekaterina RUS
3 Takaku Hitomi JPN
4 Hubner Anne GER
5 Levknecht Adriene USA
6 Kerin Courtney NZL
7 Csonkova Nina SVK
8 Campbell Elaine USA
9 Crosbie Islay GBR
10 Gordon-Ebens Ruth CAN
Men’s Semi finals – Top 5 advance to finals
1 Jackson Dane USA
2 Czaplicki Tomasz POL
3 Csonka Peter SVK
4 Devred Sebastien FRA
5 Ward Alan GBR
6 Craig Jason USA
7 Dumoulin Mathieu FRA
8 Jackson Eric USA
9 Orton Brendan GBR
10 Troutman Nicholas CAN
All results: http://www.noc.com/scoreboard/pdfs/