It was a night that was as unpredictable and tumultuous as the weather during the men’s and women’s quarterfinal round of the International Canoe Federation
Peter Csonka (SVK) entered quarterfinals dead last, in 25th place, yet according to one American observer “killed it” to end up on top in first with a daunting score of 1763. The day’s previous high score was Stephen Wright’s (USA) 1696 in prelims. Wright finished quarters in seventh place with a score of 1268.
Equally surprising was the upset of four-time World champion Eric “EJ” Jackson (USA). Jackson came into prelims second only to Wright with a score of 1490. Jackson’s showy 630-point third ride in quarterfinals was not high enough to compensate for two earlier low-scoring rides. In quarters, paddlers get three rides and the best two count. Jackson’s 1093 point total put him in 11th place, five points behind Martin Koll (GER) whose 1036 was just enough to earn him the last semifinal berth.
Koll attributed at least some of his success to the boisterous crowd of countrymen that cheered loudly for him and the other Germans in quarters, brothers Seppi and Simon Strohmeier. Simon Strohmeier advanced to semis with a fifth place quarterfinal result. while Seppi did not
Wright and Koll agreed that the energy of the nighttime crowd helped make the event more fun despite occasional downpours of rain. “It’s great to have so many people out watching this late,,” Wright said around 11:30 p.m. shortly after quarterfinals ended.
The day began some 16 hours earlier, at 7 a.m. Organizers were forced to compress the competition schedule in order to prepare for the fact the event may have to end earlier than it’s scheduled Saturday conclusion if the Isar River reaches flood stage on Friday as government officials predict.
On the ladies side of quarterfinals, weather chaos broke out before the start of the final heat as a fierce wind and rain storm blew through the venue compelling everyone in the judge’s tent, and a few volunteers, to hold onto the tent to be sure it didn’t blow into the Isar river.
“I think the chaos before our heat might have actually helped everyone relax because we were all just wondering if the whole place was going to blow away,” said Ruth Gordon Ebens, CAN. It certainly seemed to help Ebens who had a spectacular 710 point ride to help her tally 1105 points and land at the top of the results sheet.
“I certainly appreciated the lower water, it helps the moves go bigger,” Ebens said, a reference to the fact river levels dropped from earlier in the day. “But I think all the ladies really stepped up their game,” she said.
Also enjoying a stellar ride was Great Britain’s squirt specialist Claire O’Hara with 1083. Rounding out the Top Three was another Brit, Emily Wall, with 1000 points. Defending World Champ Emily Jackson had some uncharacteristically loose rides but still made semis in fourth place with 920 points. “They certainly weren’t my best rides,” Jackson said. “My phonix monkeys and mcnasty’s aren’t scoring so that definitely adds a challenge.”
Anne Huebner, the only German woman to survive to semis, was super stoked on the rides she put together to finish in ninth place with 526 points.
The International Canoe Federation Freestyle Kayak World Championships are held every two years. Since freestyle kayaking is not yet an Olympic discipline, Worlds the sport’s loftiest competition.
For complete results, schedules and more visit www.icf-freestyle.de
Watch live streaming video of the event HERE