Inside the 2015 Freestyle Worlds With EJ – Ep2, Squirt Competition
Squirt’s biggest stage was set early this morning on arguably the best squirt boat feature on the planet, (Big) Smoothy on the mighty Ottawa River. The ICF Canoe Freestyle Championships opened up with athletes in their undersized glass kayaks performing tricks that include some of the most technical freestyle tricks, all on an eddy line. These moves are combined with the incredibly deep mystery moves where athletes sink their edge and dive into the depths of the Ottawa. The deeper you go the higher your ‘multiplier’ is… aka, they multiply your flatwater move scores based on how long you drive down into the depths. This provided an exciting event where athletes threw down and then went deep to the exciting the crowds.
The women started off with legends like Risa Shimoda of the USA, the current and 2-time world champ, Claire O’hara of the UK, the strong Japanese contingent lead by Motoko Ishida and Hitomi Takaku made this an event for anyone to take. The prelims were no lock as only the top 10 athletes continued on to the Semifinals. After the prelims only 4 paddlers were dropped and the bulk of the sports female leaders went on to the next round. The big surprise was the junior from just outside of London, England Jennifer McGaley, who impressed with entry into the top 10 in her first World Championships.
Awesome rides highlighted by uber downtime from Claire and the Japanese had the crowd waiting with baited breath for the paddlers to return to the surface! Prelims separated only 4 from the field as the top 10 went straight to the semis. The semi-finals brought the crowd to their feet over and over again as legends Claire, Elaine Campbell, Miotoko, Hitomi, Valery Bertrand of Norway/Canada continually entertained. The surprising Jennifer continued to stay in the competition through to the finals with a top 5 finish. Claire O’hara beat out the current ICF scoring record almost immediately in the semis, throwing down the gauntlet for the men to follow.
The women’s finals had Claire O’hara take the top honours with an incredible 1700+ point ride, crazy downtime and a microphoned marriage proposal from Jez to top off a perfect day for the Brit. The two Japanese finished 2nd a d third with the young Jennifer in fourth.
The men’s field was stacked with the Wright boys (Clay and Stephen, not related) leading the way vs a strong international field. There was continual breaks in the action as the scores were so high that the judges needed upwards of 5 minutes to tally, even with electronic scoring. The young Max Karlsson of Sweden showed his flatwater prowess and kept pace with Canadians Matt Hamilton, Lars Romeske as well as the US contending team of Dane Jackson, Clay and Stephen.
As the men advanced the downtimes increased exponentially with Stephen and Clay leading the way with hand paddle aided dives of over 25 seconds! The story of the day was the rivalry with these longtime friends and team mates. The lead flip flopped many times between the two during each round. The finals field included one surprise, the missing Dane Jackson, who missed the semis cut by only a few points. The showdown was set with Stephen (first score over 2020 in ICF history), Clay in second, Max Karlsson, and the two Brits, Benjamin White and Alex Edwards.
Finals Results Summary, Top 5 Results:
1. Stephen Wright, USA 2020
2. Clay Wright, USA 1946
3. Ben White, UK 1606
4. Edwards , UK1333.33
5. Max Karlsson , SWE936.0
1. Claire O’hara, UK 1746
2. Hitomi Takaku, Jap 986
3. Motoko Ishida , Jap946
4. Jen McGaley, UK 860
5. Valerie Betrand, Nor 846