Inside the 2022 ICF Freestyle Worlds – Day 6 Finals Day
by Jack Ledwith
Every day during the 2022 ICF World Freestyle Championships, Irish paddler Jack Ledwith is sending us his view on what is going on in Nottingham (UK) where the worlds are taking place this year. Follow along each day as he recaps what they see from the river bank
So the curtains draw on another incredible show here at the World Kayak freestyle championships in Nottingham. It has been a whirlwind of a week, to say the least. The perfect mix of partying paddling and spending time with good people. You have to hand it to the organisers and volunteers it is definitely one of the smoothest run kayaking events I’ve ever been to.
With An estimated 1000 people attending the event today. It was genuinely something to behold to see the support for the community. Needless to say, after trying to protect the barriers at the edges of the course from a rapturous crowd of supporters from all around the world, there was no holding the Irish back today. Both junior finals had hard thought battles with some incredible scores lighting up the board with team USA Abby Holcombe who crushed her rides in the final really showing the crowd what she’s learned travelling the world kayaking with her family.
Junior men stepped up next. This class just keeps getting better and better every time I’ve seen them putting scores on the board that would have placed high up in the senior men’s category. These guys really showed us how it’s done and made some of the senior men a little nervous knowing that in the next hole boating world championships some of these juniors will be competing as seniors. Tim Rees took the top spot with an amazing 1386 points which almost would have put him on the podium in the senior men’s class. It was a tense wait at the end as local paddler Toby Marlow was only 40 points off the leader and waited for the judges to see if his score would go up or down but to Tim’s delight, it stayed as it was.
Although there was a long wait between the junior and senior events, the event organisers had a lot more events going on at the same time to keep people entertained and even give them a chance to compete. The event organisers had the Masters final on in the morning at the inlet gate. The synchro freestyle also took place where two paddlers together try and throw the same trick at the same time in the feature. This was an incredible display of skill and timing by all competitors. Other events like the young guns freestyle took place where some excellent young talent got to show off what they have to offer with some future competitors in there for sure. If none of these things tickles your fancy there was also a sup race which provided some excellent carnage to keep us well entertained.
Finally, In the evening we had our main event, the men’s and women’s senior k1 freestyle. Starting things off we had a stacked women’s final with passed champions seasoned veterans of the freestyle scene and even the world’s final first-timer. After some of the biggest tricks of the competition and some tricks that hadn’t even been seen in the competition before, our hometown hero Ottilie Robinson Shaw set a new world record once again and taking the gold with a huge 1,216-point ride. Taking this gold medal and adding it to the other two she won earlier in the week making her the first senior kayaker to ever win three gold medals at a world championships event. Being the local girl, the cheering squads right in force gasps could be heard throughout the crowd as she put down three incredible rides well-deserving of the medal.
Last but definitely not least we had our absolutely insane senior men’s final. Going into the final it was incredibly hard to predict who would take the top spot with Dane Jackson not putting in his best rides up until this point left it open for anyone to take that top spot. But in true Jackson fashion, he pulled it out of the bag and threw down an incredible ride scoring 1633 points which is hard to deny when the man had probably the least training in the hole out of most of the competitors on the field.
Crowds over the week have been phenomenal, to say the least. People from all over the world have come to support their friends and family members competing here. With the hill packed and every inch of ground covered by a supporter, It’s hard to deny that the kayaking community is one of the best there is. Never have I met a more welcoming group of people who get along so well and have so much fun together while at the same time being competitive and also helping each other out when they need it.
As the sun sets on another amazing competition it’s hard to put into words how incredible this event was after such a long break without this community being together It’s genuinely a blessing to be a part of it. Thank you to everyone who made it what it was, The next world championships are only around the corner, best get training
Women’s K1 Junior
Men’s K1 Junior