Crowds surge, stakes rise as US Freestyle Kayak Team trials moves tow

National Freestyle Kayak Team will be selected tomorrow to represent US at World Championships next summer

It was a day of high anxiety as competitors battled on Brennan's Wave on the Clark Fork River to try to make the final rounds of the US National Freestyle Kayak Team Trials. At the end of the day, a total of 21 men, women and juniors will earn the right to represent the United States at the International Canoe Federation Freestyle Kayak World Championships in Platting, Germany next summer.
As the field dwindled today, the intensity amped up, as highlighted by an epic high score by 16-year-old Dane Jackson whose two rides in K1 Junior Men's prelims were 1100 and 1250 for a crowd-shocking total of 2350. The second highest score of the day went to Dane's father, Eric Jackson, in senior men who scored 1200.
In an unusual and unique position in the senior men's semifinal, was 16-year-old Jason Craig, the reigning Junior Men's World Champion, who decided to compete here in the senior men's class. Craig scored the day's third-highest score with 1185, qualifying him for the senior men's team. However, Craig has opted to rescind his spot on the senior team in order to defend his junior men's world title. Other top finishers in senior men were Stephen Wright, 1090; Dustin Urban, 955; and Clay Wright, 870. Sixth place finisher Bryan Kirk (750) moves into the final slot on the team since Craig decided to compete at Worlds as a junior.
Today's top five senior men will fill the K1 Senior Men's team, meaning tomorrow's finals will decide the results for the USA Freestyle Kayak season-long point series competition. The top point scorer in this and all other divisions will be named National Champions.
Today's only finals occurred in OC-1. The top three finishers making the US Team include Dane Jackson, 85; Jeremy Laucks, 75; and Eli Helbert, 60. Normally, just the top two finishers would make the team however, since defending OC-1 World Champ Jeremy Laucks gets a bye, third-place finisher Helbert also earns a slot on the team.
Other classes contested today included C-1 and Junior Women.
The top five scorers in C-1 advancing to tomorrow's finals include Seth Chappelle, 870; Dane Jackson, 740; Jordan Poffenberger, 690; Eric Jackson 280 and Brad McMillan, 215. Tomorrow's top three finishers will comprise the C-1 team.
Just five young ladies competed in Junior Women so their results today determine the start order for tomorrow's second and final heat. Today's scores were as follows: Brooke Hess-Homeier, 10; Emery Tillman 40, Taylor Cote, 155; Hannah Kertesz 245; and Lauren Burress, 440. The top two women after tomorrow's rides will make the US team.
Finals begin at 9 a.m.
The following is tomorrow's lineup in order of start, beginning at 9 a.m.
C-1 Finals
Brad McMillan, Eric Jackson, Jordan Poffenberger, Dane Jackson, Seth Chappelle
Junior Women
Brooke Hess-Homeier, Emery Tillman, Taylor Cote, Hannah Kertesz, Lauren Burress
Junior Men
JP Griffith, Will Rudisill, Nico Tonozzi, Eric Bartl, Jordan Poffenberger, Dane Jackson
Senior Women (3 plus defending champ Emily Jackson will make the team)
Kat Levitt, Haley Mills, Erin Clancey, Jessie Stone, Devon Barker, Emily Jackson (bye)
Senior Men
Clay Wright, Dustin Urban, Stephen Wright, Jason Craig, Eric Jackson