Tuesday, September 18, 2012

World Cup 3 – Nantahala Outdoor Centre, North Carolina (NOC)

The competition begins

Training quickly comes to an end and the competition begins. Up first its the mans heats, Jnr M, Jnr W, OC1 and squirt. Its strange not having my freestyle heats on the first day but gives me a good rest, or so I think. Early evening I jump onto compete in Squirt. Its only two, 1 minute, rides but here at this feature its super hard. I lay down some good runs getting a nice mystery 2 - 4 secs in each run and putting me through in first place. Islay competing but unfortunately doesn't make the cut. She’s in Stephens Kor but didn't get chance to practice before the event. She’s happy though as she still got some pretty good rides and had chance to test the venue out for next year.

Claire O throwing down some flat water squirt tricks

Saturday quickly comes and i'm up early, i'm on 2nd in the first heat and we are first on. I'm really enjoying this feature so am excited to go as I am beginning to figure out the spot. I know its super tricky so some moves go relatively easily (loops, felixs, ctwls) but others are super hard (phoenix, mcnastys, spaces). Its a cut to top 10 so I know its really important to get just 2 decent rides with the base moves. I hit an entry move and the loops and felixs in both rides and possibly one mcnasty. Its plenty to get me through. In fact the holes so tricky its enough to get me through in 1st place.

Claire O Freestyle heats

The rest of the heats go and then i'm back on. Today not only do we have the K1W heats but we also have the K1W semi finals. Its 2 rides again but this time only 1 ride counts. I'm up last so watch the others go. Again scores are super low. I nail my base moves and go for the Mcnasty right. With a huge!?! score of 360 I make the final cut again in 1st place. Emily, Ruth, Nina and Islay also make it through.

Claire O going for a huge air loop

Team GB's having a great event. Brandon Bren, Me, Islay and Chris Noble are all through to the finals and Pring and David also had great results.

Bren Orton secures his place in the finals

The party really kicks off saturday night and the whole place comes alive with music. Kokatat are putting on the evening activities so we get some great food, free drinks and a raffle. 

Party rolls on into the night at NOC

As the party really starts to liven up I call it a day and head to bed, its another very busy day tomorrow.

Judges, Officials and Announcers ready for another day of freestyle action

The music is set... let the finals begin

I wake up early. Its finals day and once more I am in one of the first heats. I head to the river with all my squirt boating kit ready to go. It turns out they forgot to do the OC1 semi finals yesterday so I have a bit of time to chill. Its another beautiful day on the Nantahala and as a result loads of people have come out to watch us perform. Chris Nobles in the OC1 semi finals and has some great rides but unfortunately its not enough to take him through. Jez (AUS) also paddles really well but also just misses the cut. 
Chris Nobles throws down hard in the OC1 event

Then its the Cadet class. Loads of U14's have entered and put on a great display. Paddling tiny Jackson Shooting Stars and Fun 1's (not all of them of course) they have a great time competing on the same feature and at the same event as their boating heros.

Cady Kellog waits for her turn in the Cadet competition

Cadet Class World Cup 2012

Next its the squirt boat finals time. Its me and Motoko in squirt boats and then Nuria, Zophia and Isabella in freestyle boats. Motoko goes first and puts down a great ride but just misses her mystery. I'm up next I get my mystery and throw down some moves but get flushed downstream into the shallows under the bridge. Next ride goes loads better and I get a great combination of freestyle tricks and a big mystery. 

Claire O squirt boating in the freestyle feature

Motoko gets her mystery in her final ride but its not quite enough to top my score so I take the win. So its Me (1st), Motoko (2nd) and then Nuria (3rd). We also all take the same positions in the overall series. Its a great display of squirt boating. I am excited for next years Worlds as although this is not a site we would typically choose to squirt, it works and its fun.

Claire O super cleans a split wheel during the victory lap

Squirt Boating podium Claire O, Motoko and Nuria

The finals quickly roll on. Dane Jackson (USA) wins the mens squirt and C1, Nuria Fontane-Maso (SPN) wins the JnrW, Bren Orton (GBR) wins the Jnr M and Seth Chappel (USA) wins the OC1.

Nuria secures her 3rd win to take the series titles in the Jnr W class

Bren takes his 2nd Gold of the series with Hunter in 2nd and Brandon in 3rd place

Before I know it its time to jump back on. Jez and Hobbie are calling our names, its time for the K1W finals to begin. Its exciting sharing the eddy with Ruth, Emily and Nina its once again a World Championship finals line up but even better is the fact that my team mate Islay is there too. Shes made her first international senior womens K1 final. Islay’s up first and throws down a great ride hitting all her moves. Then the rest of us go. Once again scores are low as we find it a challenge getting the boat to release to throw the big moves. End of run 1 and i'm in the lead but the scores are so low I know I am not safe yet.

Claire O brings round a Mcnasty

2nd rides and everyone steps it up. Islay’s currently in 4th beating Ruth but then Ruth throws an incredible run, Mcnastys, Phoneix, Loops and Ctwls, its sweet and puts her to the top of the leader board. Me, Emily and Nina raise our game but can't match Ruths 495 point score.

Claire O mid routine in the finals

Final runs = last chance. Emily moves up to 2nd place. Ruth keeps 1st, Nina is 4th and Islay is in 5th. I'm last and know what I need to do. Normally I have to hit at least 1 big move on top of my base moves but here today I need to not miss any of my big moves! The pressures on. Hobbie and Jez are giving me words of support over the Mic and Islay gives me a quick prep talk in the eddy. The thumbs up from Head Judge Sneaky Pete and I go. The next 45 seconds are a blur. I know I hit my Mcnasty right and a switch mcnasty left. I got a huge air loop, a felix and a ctwl – split – split – phoneix attempt. The run finishes and I hear everyone cheer. The other girls all come over and congratulate me on my run. It felt like a great run and from the response it must have looked pretty good too. Was it enough though?

K1W congratulate each other on a great finals competition

The scores are in... 633 points... I've done it. I got my second win of the series and I won the first international event to be held at the site of next year World Championships. But not only that i'm super happy as I laid down a super complex, impressive, fun run! What a finals!!!

Results in :o)

K1W podium. Claire O, Ruth and Emily

The excitement doesn't stop there. Next up its the senior mens. The battles and displays continue. Chonka lays down a huge first run that the others just can't reach.

Peter Chonka makes it look effortless

That is until Danes final run. Dane heads into the feature and lays down a smooth controlled run of the hardest tricks on the score board with loads of height and huge bonuses. The scores in and at the last second Dane moves up into 1st place with 1316 points, a huge score. Theres now only 1 paddler left, Chonka. Chonka sets off super strong and lays down every move at the hardest end of the score sheet, effortlessly, left and right! As he paddles the whole crowd goes wild. We all know we are watching something very special begin performed, live, right in front of our eyes. Peter throws Loops, McNastys L & R, Phoneixs L & R, Tricky Wu's L & R, Orbits L & R, Backloops... the list goes on. This runs insane!!!

Chonka claims the win after a very impressive final ride

Celebrations all around

Chonka wins his 3rd World Cup event, securing the World Cup title with a ride that will see him remembered in the minds of those watching and in the history of freestyle. Unbelievable!

Peter takes his title after 3 consecutive wins

The day ends, the World Cup series ends but for over 200 athletes, with less than 12 month until the 2013 World Championships back here at the NOC, training begins.

NOC site of the 2013 World Championships
Sept 6th - 9th 2013

What an incredible experience and event. Thank you to everyone involved in making this happen. Its was a fantastic experience a great World Cup series. Thank you.

Claire O World Cup Series winner SqW

The overall World Cup Freestyle Kayaking 2012 series winners are...

K1M – Peter Chonka (SVK)

Peter Chonka World Cup Series K1M 
K1W – Emily Jackson (USA)

SqM – Dane Jackson (USA)

SqW – Claire O'Hara (GBR)

C1 – Dane Jackson (USA)

OC1 – Seth Chappelle (USA)

Jnr M – Hunter Katich (USA)

Jnr W – Nuria Fontane-Maso (SPN)

For me its... 

5 wins out of 6 events.

World Cup Series 1st place Squirt Boating & World Cup Series 2nd place Freestyle Kayaking

What an event

I would like to say a personal special thanks to PeakUK, Jackson Kayak, TEVA, Murky Waters, VW Van Centre West Yorkshire, Mitchell Blades, Maui Jim, G Form, Alpkit, Robie Robes, Clay Wright, Dennis Newton my coach (Sweet Water Coaching) and everyone involved in helping run, organise and support this event; for making this whole experience possible.

Thank you