Inside the 2019 ICF Freestyle Worlds – #6 Tom Dolle Topples the USA Winning Streak
by Kathy Holcombe
Everyday during the 2019 ICF World Freestyle Championships, Kathy & Peter Holcombe are sending us their views on what is going on in Sort (Spain) where the worlds are taking place this year. Follow along each day as they recap what they see from the river bank.
Just five days ago there were 228 athletes sitting at the opening ceremonies here in Sort, excited and nervous, each one arriving hopeful for the opportunity to perform their best. Each day of the event has brought us one step closer to the finish, and today only four events, and sixty competitors remain. So far, the USA has been the one to beat with three gold medals in men’s squirt (Clay Wright), women’s squirt (Rose Wall) and OC1 (Jordan Poffenberger), but today Tom Dolle broke the USA winning streak by earning the gold in C1 for France.
The C1 final round was a fierce competition with the entire heat duking it out until the bitter end. It was a great competition that left spectators on the edge of their seat as all five athletes continuously upped their game throughout the comp until the very last ride. Tom Dolle set the high score in the his first ride, with Sebastian Devred right on his heals and Dane Jackson in a close third. In the second round, the order stayed the same with a few unfortunate flushes. In his final ride, Dane hit his stride and threw down leaving the judges scrambling and the audience on the edge of their seats waiting to see if his high flying ride would be enough to topple Tom from the top of the leader board. He missed first place by a meager 10 points and claimed the silver with a 950 point ride. Jordan Poffenberger was last to go and wowed the crowd with his signature move the Vaderflip, which is a spectacle to behold, and landed just seven points behind Dane with the bronze medal.
The women took to the feature for the first time this week in their preliminary rounds. Just like the men’s event there was a wide diversity of goals and corresponding display of skills. For some of the athletes just making their country’s team was the primary goal, and any success found in the world arena was simply icing on the cake. For other women, like Aoife Hanrahan from Ireland, their primary goal was to make the first cut to the quarter finals.
When I caught up to her after the competition, she was exuberant about achieving her goal, and excited about the opportunity to compete again tomorrow, but also found the whole experience of accomplishment a bit disorienting, and it has left her wondering exactly how to navigate her way through the next round of competition. And then there is another tier of women who have come here to win, and they are charging hard toward the gold. Sage Donnelley from the USA took first with a combined score of 1147, with Zofia Tula from Poland with 1063, and Marlene Devillez in third with a 947 point ride. Hold on, the next two days are going to be action packed as both junior and senior, men and women go head to head in the final world championship rounds.