This year’s Kayak Rodeo, the centerpiece of CKS PaddleFest, saw the determination of who would represent the United States in this year’s world championships of freestyle kayaking in Sort, Spain, for the championships competition June 29-July 6.
The U.S. competitive tour will send Tom Dolle of France, Nick Troutman of Canada and Sebastian Devred of France to the men’s competition and Zofia Tula of Poland, Marlene Devillez of France and Emily Jackson of the United States for the women’s.
Paddling against the hydraulic rapid on the Arkansas River near the Surf Hotel, the athletes competed to score as many points as possible within 60 seconds by performing tricks like flips, spins and twists.
“Gymnastics in a tiny boat,” as freestyle pro Stephen Wright described it.
Each paddler was given three runs per round, taking the best score of the three.
From a field of nine, five advanced from the semifinal round Saturday afternoon. The top three finishers in the final round later that day will go on to compete in Sort.
In the women’s competition, Tula won both the preliminary and final rounds handily, with scores of 2063.34 in the prelims and 1296.67 in the finals.
The men’s prelims were taken by fellow Polish paddler Tomascz Czaplicki with a score of 3390. However, with a score of 1470, Czaplicki missed the cut in the next round, placing fourth behind Devred’s final score of 1741.67.
U.S. paddler Kenny Kellogg finished fifth in the men’s finals with a score of 1293.33
In the finals, Dolle scored 1840, and Troutman scored 1770, coming in first and second respectively. The second and third place finishers in the women’s finals were Devillez with a score of 916.67 and Jackson with a score of 790.
Yoshiko Suematsu of Japan scored 336.67 to finish fifth in the women’s finals.
In the junior division, open to paddlers 14-17, Dally Kellogg, Kaelin Friednson and Mason Hargrove, all U.S. paddlers, will go to Sort to compete in the men’s division, while Katie Fankhouser, Olivia McGinnis and Abby Holcombe, all from the United States, made the cut for the women’s.
Kellogg finished first with a score of 2306.67 in the preliminaries and 1523.33 in the finals. Hargrove finished second in the prelims with an even 2000, dropping to third in the finals with 1116.67.
Friednson raised his standing between the prelims and the finals, placing fourth with a score of 1763.33 in the former and second with a score of 1175 in the latter.
In the open class, Americans Nathan Werner, Matt Hargrove and Skye Vivian will go to Sort in the men’s division, and the U.S. will send Rachel Scheffe, Harriet Rawllins and Melissa Hargrove, all of the United States, to compete in the women’s championships.