Clean Sweep: Jackson Family Nabs Nationals

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The country’s best freestyle kayakers converged on the country’s newest whitewater park in Cascade, Idaho, for the USA Freestyle Kayaking Association’s National Point Series Championships July 8-9, 2011, bringing national attention to the state’s first-ever official river park and crowning new national champions in multiple categories.

Taking the top spot in the two-day affair, and lion’s share of the series’ $15,000 purse, was four-time world champion Eric Jackson, with a 255-point ride narrowly besting second-place finisher Bryan Kirk’s 228, with the two finishing first and second, respectively, in the overall standings. Taking third was Craig Kleckner with 206 points.

“The competition was awesome; everyone really stepped up and gave incredible performances,” says Jackson. “I also have to give a big shout out to Kelly’s Whitewater Park for putting on a national-caliber event. They’ve built a state-of-the-art facility that will serve freestyle kayaking well into the future.”

For the women, Emily Jackson took first both overall and at the Cascade event, followed by Haley Mills and Kat Levitt.. In Men’s Junior, Dane Jackson won the Cascade and overall titles, followed by Evan Schehrer and Hunt Jennings. As well as winning the Junior Men’s division, Dane also won the all-ages canoe (C1) and open canoe (OC1) classes, giving him three more gold medals to add to the trio of golds he earned last month at the International Canoe Federation Freestyle Kayak World Championships in Plattling, Germany.

In Junior Women, Sage Donnelly took top event and overall honors, followed by Lauren Burress. The new Jackson Rock Star was the weapon of choice for five of the six paddlers taking home the gold.

Idaho’s first-ever river park, Kelly’s Whitewater Park was spearheaded by locals Mark and Kristina Pickard and named after Kristina’s sister, Kelly Brennan. It was designed and built by Boulder, Colo.’s Recreation Engineering & Planning, the country’s leader in whitewater park design, on the North Fork of the Payette River in August 2010. Converting a defunct lumber mill site into a beautiful park with three high-water channel structures, a separate novice channel and an island with sandy beaches, the $3 million project has been heralded as one of the best river parks in the country, due to its user- and spectator-friendly design and clear, warm water feeding it from Cascade Lake just upstream. It also includes a 2,600-square-foot Welcome Center, outdoor amphitheater, trails and other amenities.

“It was a great event and a great venue for an event of that caliber,” says KWP marketing manager Dan Gallagher, who is also campaigning to have it host a World Cup event in the near future. “It truly has some world-class features.”

The park has also proved an economic boom to the city, drawing more than 3,000 spectators to the weekend’s event. “It’s been a huge boon to the town,” says Cascade Mayor Richard Carter, adding that its grand opening was attended by Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter. “It’s transformed what looked like a battleground into one of the most beautiful parks you’ve ever seen.”

To win the national title, paddlers had to compete in five of the 11 USAFK-designated point series events. Points achieved through their top five finishes counted toward their 2011 total. The Point Series Final and National Championships counted as a “double event.”

Results

1 Eric Jackson 1191 0 0 265 208 208 0 0 0 0 255 255
2 Bryan Kirk 1147 0 253 233 0 156 205 0 0 0 228 228
3 Craig Kleckner 1012 0 170 180 0 130 0 163 170 250 206 206
4 Mike Patterson 993 180 0 142 0 115 0 208 163 225 190 190
5 Quinton Barnett 878 0 0 0 163 0 0 170 205 0 170 170
1 Emily Jackson 1270 250 255 250 250 255 225 0 0 0 255 255
2 Haley Mills 1072 225 226 225 190 206 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 Kat Levitt 1050 205 0 190 0 0 0 225 250 180 170 170
4 Elaine Campbell 1010 0 190 180 205 170 0 205 0 0 205 205
5 Devon Barker 1004 0 0 0 0 163 205 250 0 0 193 193
1 Dane Jackson 1265 250 250 255 250 225 0 0 0 255 255
2 Evan Schehrer 1093 0 0 0 0 183 205 250 205 250 163 163
3 Hunt Jennings 1085 205 0 170 0 0 0 0 205 225 225 225
1 Sage Donnelly 1225 0 0 0 225 225 190 205 250 250 250 250
2 Lauren Burress 1175 0 0 0 250 250 225 0 0 0 225 225
3 Emery Tillman 340 0 170 170 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0