2023 Freestyle World Championships

Published on octobre 9th, 2023 | by Kayak Session https://www.kayaksession.com/img-current-issue/upload-your-video.png

Inside the 2023 Freestyle Worlds – Day 1 Opening Ceremony

By: Kathy Holcombe / Photography: Peter Holcombe

The 2023 Freestyle Kayak World Championships have officially commenced, and athletes from around the world are congregated on the banks of the Chatahoochie River that runs between the cities of Columbus, Georgia and Phenix City, Alabama. 

This urban environment provides all  of the amenities of a large city, with abundant accommodations, restaurants, bars and shopping, all within walking distance of world class kayaking.  Unfortunately the region is currently experiencing severe drought conditions, and training time on the feature is extremely limited.   Athletes are averaging 2-5 training rides per day, leaving everyone wanting more time to practice and refine their competition rides. The feature itself is a raucous wave that can provide a perfect launchpad for huge arial tricks, or just as quickly flush paddlers through to the wave train below the feature.  This unpredictability is going to make for a fierce competition where anything can happen.

The event officially began last night with the opening ceremonies in Phenix City, Alabama.  Over 200 athletes from 20 countries paraded into the outdoor amphitheater and were treated to a fabulous evening of live music to kick off the festivities. The athletes had one final day of training today, and then it is go time tomorrow.  The squirt athletes will take the stage tomorrow starting at 10:15 AM EDT and will be the first champions crowned tomorrow evening.  You can watch the entire squirt event here.

We will be posting daily updates here, so be sure to check back all week for all the latest happenings at the 2023 Freestyle Kayak World Championships.

Team USA paddlers Emily Jackson, Abby Holcombe and Anna Bruno are definitely contenders for the best dressed at this years World Championships.  But don’t let their pretty pink boats fool you – they are fierce out on the wave! ©Peter Holcombe/Kayak Session mag.
Over 200 athletes from twenty countries lined up to parade into the opening ceremonies venue. ©Peter Holcombe/Kayak Session mag.
It wouldn’t feel like a world championships without Bartosz Czauderna’s warm smile. ©Peter Holcombe/Kayak Session mag.
Tubas Fukudome looking smooth on a rowdy and unpredictable Good Wave. ©Peter Holcombe/Kayak Session mag.
Assistant Chief Judge, Charlie Brackpool, reviewing a ride as the judges calibrate for the upcoming competition. ©Peter Holcombe/Kayak Session mag.
Olivia McGinnis throwing a beautiful blunt during a practice ride in team training. ©Peter Holcombe/Kayak Session mag.
Local paddler, Mason Hargrove, shares his story of growing up on the Chatahoochie River at the Opening Ceremonies. ©Peter Holcombe/Kayak Session mag.
A live band closed out the night of Opening Ceremonies.
©Peter Holcombe/Kayak Session mag.
The junior women of Team USA creating memories of the opening ceremonies.  Back row:  Elenor Knight, MaryClaire Hargrove.  Front row, MakinleyKate Hargrove, Chloe Spears, Abby Holcombe ©Peter Holcombe/Kayak Session mag.

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