Is There a New Guard Challenging the Jacksons’ Freestyle Reign? U.S. Team Trials Wrap Up at NOC


On a wet, wild, wooly and woody weekend at North Carolina’s Nantahala Outdoor Center, the 2019 U.S. Freestyle Team Trials determined who will represent the USA in Sort, Spain, at the World Championships of Freestyle Kayaking June 29 – July 6.

And although long-running favorites Emily and Dane Jackson of Jackson Kayak still both earned a spot on the team, the results show that a new family, the Kelloggs, might also be staking a claim as a top family of freestyle. Three members of the Kellogg family made this year’s team in their respective divisions.

Still, it was Dane Jackson again showing his supremacy, taking the top spot and the number one seed on a finicky feature testing the sport’s best.

“The Team Trials at NOC this year were interesting as it was a higher, and more complicated level for the feature,” says Dane. “Although you could still get some good tricks, it was tough to nail every time, or stick the in the feature. It was a good battle to be on the team in every class, and there was definitely a big shuffle of the board when it comes to who will be representing in Spain. But we have a strong team, and Americans are used to big trashy features, so we are all feeling good about Spain.”

As with the high-flying competitors, the logistics for this year’s event were also a bit topsy-turvy.

The event was originally scheduled for Rock Island, Tenn., but high water levels forced it to move to the Nantahala Outdoor Center, where nearly 50 competitors vied for top honors on the same feature was used for the 2013 Freestyle World Championships.

High water levels hampered it also, however, flushing many riders out of the hole and causing delays because of debris (just ask Jackson kayak’s Stephen Wright, who looped onto a piece of wood).

Still, with five Men’s and Women’s kayak spots and three Junior spots on the line for the trip to Spain — with only your best of three finals runs counting — it was phenom Dane Jackson, 25, taking the top spot for the men (with dad EJ becoming the first alternate), followed by Kenny Kellogg and Hayden Voorhees. For the women, Sage Donnelly edged out Emily Jackson for the top spot, followed by Anna Bruno.

In the Junior Men’s class, Mason Hargrove beat out Riley Frank and Dally Kellogg, while Olivia McGinnis topped the Women’s Junior division ahead of Katie Fankhouser and Abby Holcombe.

There was some carnage as well, with Hunter Katich dislocating his shoulder but still coming back to compete.

2019 U.S. Freestyle Team Results

Mens K-1

Dane Jackson 1233.33

Kenny Kellogg 786.67

Hayden Voorhees 676.67

Bennett Smith 376.67

Womens K-1

Sage Donnelly 263.33

Emily Jackson 230

Anna Bruno 220

Jessie Stone 180

Kady Kellogg 180

Mens K-1 Junior

Mason Hargrove 706.67

Riley Frank 653.33

Dally Kellogg 650

Womens K-1 Junior

Olivia McGinnis 560

Katie Fankhouser 216.67

Abby Holcombe 155