For the fourth consecutive time the adidas Sickline Extreme Kayak World Championship took place in Austria’s Ötztal valley, luring 150 of the world’s best kayakers from 26 countries to the Tyrol region to compete on the legendary Class V Wellerbrücke rapids.
This year’s Superfinal wasn’t as tight as last year’s, but still packed with adrenaline as 22-year old Sam Sutton of New Zealand claimed the title with a comfortable gap of 2.14 seconds over Italy’s Michele Ramazza who claimed silver at 1:00.99. Third place went to Germany’s Lukas Kalkbrenner at 1:01.13.
With a time of 58.85 seconds, adidas Sickline team athlete Sam Sutton was the only one in the Superfinal to break the one-minute-barrier. New Zealand’s Mike Dawson and the 2008 Sickline world champion, Thilo Schmitt, also had perfect runs under one minute in the semi final, but couldn’t repeat their performance for the last deciding race.
The day started off with 48 finalists. After two head-to-head knock-out rounds the Superfinal line-up of 15 saved the best for last. First to launch: “Lucky Loser” Basti Lexa, who, with a time of 1:08.47, was the first to sit down in the Softub Whirlpool with Miss Tirol 2009, Christina Keil. His time was beaten three runs later by Paul Bökelmann from Germany (1:07.73), who was banished from the whirlpool only one run later by Italy’s Michele Ramazza, who occupied the hot seat until Sutton was able to nail the top spot. Ramazza crossed the finish line with a new best time of 1:00.99 and it seemed as if he could hang on to a spot on the podium.
Slovenia’s Dejan Kralj, the fastest paddler in the qualification, started after Ramazza. He had finished twice in 4th place and this year he hoped to finally claim a spot on the podium. Even though Kralj had a solid run, at the last drop he got carried out into the eddy and lost valuable seconds. “It’s very difficult to get on the podium, if you do just the slightest mistake like I did today,” he says. “If I’m lucky and have no injuries next year I hope to be back fighting for gold at the adidas Sickline 2011.”
Launching next: Frenchman Eric Deguil, who came in with a time of 1:06.79. Then came Sutton, looking confident after his runs in the previous round. “I was extremely lucky with my final run,” he says. “I told myself that if I could do it without making any mistakes it would probably be good enough for the podium; I relaxed and finally had a smooth and nearly perfect ride so I couldn’t ask for more.”
Despite finishing 12th overall, Spain’s Gerd Serrasolses was not happy with his final run. He lost valuable time at the crux of the racecourse, rolling and being dragged along the final drop upside down. “I felt quite some pressure since I wanted to improve my 4th place from semi finals,” he says. “I had a good line in the beginning, but at the end I screwed up pretty hard and there was nothing I could do.”
Next on the launch pad was Thilo Schmitt, who finished fourth at 1.01.78. With 65 hundreds of a second down to Lukas Kalkbrenner he placed fourth.
The drama unfolded when the fastest paddler in the semi-final, Mike Dawson from New Zealand, struggled to reach the finish line. Halfway through the course as Dawson entered the turbulent core section he rolled and was dragged down backwards, sideways and upside down for several seconds. He crossed at 1:11.39, in 13th place. “Another day another dollar,” Dawson says. “Congrats go to Sam for owning the show and laying it down. I came through the rounds in good form, taking third in the qaulification, and first in the semi-final. But for me, it wasn’t my best day on the river. I got glanced off line in the middle of the course, pitoning a rock and getting washed around like a rag doll in the wind.”
Sutton, meanwhile, was all smiles. “It has been an awesome year and I am glad to finish the season becoming World Champion,” says Sutton. Adds runner-up Ramazza: “I have the bronze from 2008, and this year I claimed silver. For me it is like taking another step, getting closer and closer to the top of the podium. Next year I go for the gold if the “Kiwi” lets me.”
1 Sam Sutton 58.85
2 Michele Ramazza 1:00.99
3 Lukas Kalkbrenner 1:01.13
4 Thilo Schmitt 1.01.78
Catch video of the race on FreecasterTV HERE!