Tuesday, September 04, 2012

World Cup 2 - Pigeon Hole, TN

Day1 – The event begins

Arriving in style at Pigeon
After a recovery day in Rock Island with Islay and Clay we arrive to start training at Pigeon Hole, but the way the water release is working we are straight into competition. So Tuesday afternoon 1pm the water arrives and the event kicks off.

Claire O loving the feature
Pigeon hole is an incredible feature, super stable and super sweet so rides are really impressive from the start. All paddlers have the chance to show of the best of their paddling and its super impressive to watch the rides. Due to the lack of training time its noticeable how much each paddler improves during each ride as they figure out and adjust their style to suit the feature. Men are up first followed by Women. I love this feature and make the cut in 1st place. Pring and David also make it through to the next round with some impressive first runs.

Day 2 – The heat(s) continue

Bradon arrives and goes straight into action
Next day and its time for the junior classes, C1 and OC1. Bren absolutely tears up the feature as does Brandon in his first International World Cup event.

KC Jackson cheers on his big brother as he heads out to do his runs

The day finishes with the squirt boating heats on a sweet little seam just downstream of the main feature. The freestyle hole is closed during the squirt event so everyone comes and watches creating a great atmosphere. Again there are a lot of freestyle kayaks in the squirt heats but there are also 8 squirt boats (4 men and 4 women). The Pigeon spot has a great mystery seam that Alabama and Clay have been working on developing ready for the event. The event kicks of with the ladies and me, Motoko and Islay make it through as top 3 for the finals.

Clay doing what he does so well... disappearing!

In the mens its Clay and Dane who dominate with some sweet rides and mystery’s with Thomas not far behind in 3rd place.

Day 3 – Quarter and Semi Final time

Everyones having fun during the Ladies Semi Finals
Day 3 and its quarter and semi finals time. The mens quarters is a really hard cut. 20 paddlers all capable of throwing 1,000 point + rides all battling for the top 10 spot. Its another day of super exciting boating and in the end its Me, Pring, Bren and Brandon from Team GB who make it through the semi final cut.

Day 4 – The Day of REST!

No water at Pigeon = busy day on the Green
Friday comes and we have a day off! Because the river is completely dam release dependant and the Dams not scheduled to release today everyone has a day off. Loads of people head out to paddle at NOC and on the Green river. I opt to stay at Pigeon and have a chilled out day. Mid afternoon and theres excitement at the Pigeon camp. They have just released the dam so we do have water. Everyone who's left jumps on for some last minute practice. I chill for a bit then do 1 freestyle ride followed by a mystery session. SteveO helps me figure out the spot and i'm rewarded by some sweet 10 second rides.

ICF Judge Mark Sheppard enjoys the chance to get out of the judges stand and onto the water

Late that evening Clay and Islay return from the Green. Unfortunately Clays injured. He took a massive hit to his shoulder on one of the big 3 drops on this classic american creek and has damaged his AC joint. Luckily its not broken but he's in a lot of pain.

Day 5 - Finals
Claire O tears it up in the squirt finals

Finals day comes and we are kicking off the day with the squirt finals. I'm super excited to throw down a decent mystery during the event. First two rides I miss the head under mystery but throw down some sweet flat water routines using my stick (paddle). Then for my final ride 'victory lap', as I have already done enough to win, I switch to hand paddles. I set myself up in the eddy and wait for the seam to appear. Theres nothing there, I sit and wait and then see it approaching, rolling down the eddy line. I go, hit it and sink. The water lower today so I have to work hard to keep the boat down and make it spin. I'm under, i'm under, i'm under, i'm out of breath! I resurface throw an exit kickflip and then take a gasp of air and hear the spectators erupt with cheers. I have still got loads of time left so I then throw down a mix of flat water freestyle squirt tricks.

Motoko dropping deep into the mystery seam
Islay and Motoko also throw down some great squirt rides and mysterys taking the 2nd (Motoko) and 3rd (Islay) place. A nice start to the finals day here at Pigeon. Next up its the mens. Clay paddles with only 1 hand! And its another super impressive display of flat water freestyle and squirt boating tricks. 

The guys line up in the eddy ready to compete
Danes really maximises on the bonuses on the score sheet throwing down some super impressive squirt routines combined with a nice mystery taking 1st place. Clay somehow pulls out a huge 700+ point run using just 1 hand finishing in 2nd and Bartosh wins the flat water freestyle throw down against Thomas and Quim to take the 3rd place spot.

Quim throwing some massive flat water freestyle tricks

Quickly everything then moves back to the top feature for the freestyle finals. Junior women start us off followed by the OC1. To say that this is one of the best demonstrations by these paddlers of how far this sport has come is an understatement. All the paddlers lay own some huge rides with Mcnastys, Space Godzillas, Helixs and Loops not only being scored by the Junior Women but also the OC1. Nuria takes her 2nd World Cup win and Seth shows extraordinary canoe skills to take the OC1 win.

It not often we see air under an inverted OC1

Then its time for the flying Bren. He has some great competition in the Junior mens from Hunter and the other young paddlers but Bren is on fire at the moment and flys during his rides laying down some massive combos leaving even the judges looking shocked cruising straight into the Gold medal spot.

Bren effortlessly throws down some of the hardest moves in the sport to take the junior win

After Brens victory rides its the C1. Another impressive battle between some World Class Canoe paddlers. Its not surprise as World Champion Dane Jackson takes the win in his 2nd of 3 finals of the day.

Dane makes C1 look far to easy in the finals

Then i'm back on for the women's finals. I'm super excited to paddle the hole again and try and lay down a complex, hard, high scoring run. The line up in the eddy is impressive, its the same as the World Championships final results last year which really shows the high standard here at these events. My first ride is Entry, McNasty, Loop, Space Godzilla, Felix, Space Godzilla, McNasty, Split, Phoneix. Its a super fun run. I don't score everything but get over 580 points which is enough to take the win. Emily, Ruth, Nina and Hayley are also throwing down some massive runs and Emily takes Silver with Nina getting a great second ride to secure the Bronze.

Claire O sets up for a phoenix monkey during the ladies finals

The action on the water comes to a final peak in the senior mens finals. Impressive, fast, dynamic, insane... these words don't even given full credit to the standard of rides being laid down in these runs. The guys all fly. Each using slightly different techniques and routines they try and up their scores to take the win. In the end its the powerhouse from Slovakia Peter Chonka that takes the Gold, his second World Cup win, with a massive 1,416 point run!!! Close on his tail were Dane and Quim and not far behind them where Stephen and Pring.

Csonka celebrates his 2nd World Cup win

In keeping with the lovely, fun, all inclusive style of the event, the Pigeon World Cup event comes to an end with the awards ceremony. Each athlete is lead up to the podium by a local youngster who awards them with their medal whilst other local kids raised their national flag. A fitting finish to another great event.

Bren takes a well earned Gold medal home in the Jnr Mens

Claire O celebrating the ladies win with Emily and Nina
Islay celebrates winning her first ICF medal
Thank you once again to everyone involved in every aspect of this World Cup competition, especially the local raft guides. It is incredible to think that a year ago this feature did not exist. This whole event was made possible by the hard work, determination and drive of a few local raft guides who had a vision for their river and took the time to hand build the feature by moving hundreds of rocks.

KC Jackson practises climbing onto the podium.
Its not going to be long until this is a regular scene ;o)
Nice work...Thank you!

Thank you to James Bebbington & Katya (RiverZoo.com), Philip Robert, Jackson Kayak, Nuria Fontane Maso and others for the great photos