Inside the 2023 Freestyle Worlds – Day 2 Squirt Competition
By: Kathy Holcombe / Photography: Peter Holcombe
The squirt boaters took center stage on the first day of competition here at the Freestyle Kayak World Championships in Columbus, GA, and what a day of competition it proved to be! The women’s competition was a fierce battle between reigning world champion and GB team member Ottilie Robinson-Shaw; former world champion and USA team member Rose Wall; and GB team member and silver medalist Tamsyn McConchie. The women jockeyed for position for the podium throughout the competition. Ottilie took the lead in the preliminary round with a combined score of 1806, followed by Tamsyn and then Rose. In the semifinal round, Rose Wall stunned the judges and crowd as she dropped beneath the surface for a 31 second mystery move, setting a new record for the woman’s class. That record setting ride not only moved Rose to the top of the leader board with 2160 points, but also moved her into a very elite group of four people, and the first woman, to have ever broken the 2000 point barrier in an ICF Squirt competition (the other three people in the 2000 point club are Clay Wright, Stephen Wright and Taft Sibley). The final round was a nail biter with Otilie throwing down 1600 points on her first ride. Rose upped the anti with an 1800 point ride moving her into first place, and bumping Ottie into the silver medal position. Tamsyn rounded out the podium with a1200 point ride and a bronze medal.
The mens competition was just as fierce, with reigning world champion and USA team member, Clay Wright competing on his home turf alongside his teammate Taft Sibley, who holds the record for the highest score ever in a squirt competition. Clay Wright dominated the preliminary round with two stellar rides giving him a combined total of 3397 points and a commanding lead over Taft in second place with 2480 points. The competition heated up in the semifinal round with Taft setting a new record for the longest mystery move in the men’s class with 49 seconds of downtime, and earring him a whopping 2080 point ride. The final round was another heated match between Clay and Taft and USA teammate Andrew Grizzell and it all came down to who could stay underwater with the longest mystery move. Ultimately Taft Sibley took the gold with a 30 point lead, followed by Andrew Grizzell (silver) and Clay Wright (bronze).
Team USA has taken the lead with four out of six medals in the first event with Great Britain holding the other two. Tomorrow kicks off with preliminary rounds for C1 men and women, and K1 women.
WOMEN’S SQUIRT FINAL
MEN’S SQUIRT FINAL