Air Apparent: Keller Takes Inaugural Waterfall Champs in Mexico

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It was only a matter of time. A waterfall World Championships? Yep, and it drew 18 of the world’s top kayakers to the Veracruz region of Mexico, courtesy of the Mexican Tourism Board, Ernesto Rivas, owner of Altius Events, and filmmakers Rafa Ortiz and Rush Sturges.

Designed to progress the sport of whitewater kayaking competition, the Rey del Rio Waterfall World Championship took place on the travertine falls of Agua Azul, testing paddlers on freefalls, boater-cross and more.

“It was a great event, with an amazing line up and amazing people,” says Rivas, extending a special thanks to VisitMexico.com and the Tourism Board with the State Government of Chiapas for hosting the event.

In the first event’s BoaterX, taking racers over a series of twisting freefalls, Russia’s Egor Voskoboynikov earned the fastest qualifying time of 56.53 seconds, followed by Pat Keller, Dane Jackson and Isaac Levinson in the U.S. In the next day’s finals, Voskoboynikov and Keller battled for the top spot again, with Keller winning in the end to pick up the $3,000 top prize. Jackson took second, followed by Voskoboynikov and Levinson.

Keller carried that momentum into the final “freeride” waterfall showdown held on three riverwide waterfalls of, in order, 30 feet, 55 feet, and 25 feet. Rewarding style and poise, the event was a new-school showpiece, featuring such moves as back freewheels by the likes of Galen Volckhausen and Ben Marr, and a barrel-roll/kick-flip by Sturges. But in the end, it was waterfall master Keller again stealing the show, throwing a massive freewheel off the far rightside “new step-down” line to steal the Rey del Rio crown.

“It was an awesome event. My buddies over at Mountain Mind Collective are rocking some great edits of it,” he says. (click HERE to watch Keller’s freewheel.

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