Dane Jackson, Nick Troutman Tie for Top Honors at Paddling Life Open

Steamboat Springs, Colo. (May 30, 2012): The water might not have been the highest but the excitement still was at this year’s seventh annual Paddling Life Pro Open on Monday, May 28, in Steamboat Springs, Colo...

Steamboat Springs, Colo. (May 30, 2012): The water might not have been the highest competitors have seen but the excitement still was at this year's seventh annual Paddling Life Pro Open on Monday, May 28, in Steamboat Springs, Colo. And the sub-par levels still didn't stop some of the world's best kayakers from putting on a sizzling show as the final event of the Yampa River Festival.

Sponsored by Rhino Racks, Rocky Mountain Remedies, Kokatat and the City of Steamboat Springs, as well as Canoe & Kayak magazine and American Whitewater, the event saw an international contingent descend on the Yampa River for a winner-take-all combo-event featuring a freestyle event in Charlie's Hole downtown and Class V race down Fish Creek.

With events flip-flopped to take better advantage of rising creek flows, the freestyle event took place first, with 17-year-old Dane Jackson barely out-dueling Nick Troutman and third-place finisher Jordan Poffenberger in the finals. For the women, New Zealand's Courtney Kerin took first, followed by Dutch paddler Martina Wegman and New Zealand's Louise Jull.

“It was still pretty good at low water,” says Troutman, a former World Freestyle Champion. “You were still able to do a lot of moves and it was still a lot of fun.” Adds Kerin: “There was plenty of power and water to get lots of air and tricks. It's an awesome playspot in the town's back yard.”

From there, it was onto the creek event, where a brief warm spell brought levels up to a runnable flow on Fish Creek for the downriver race. “It was a bit bony, but still a great race,” says New Zealand's Mike Dawson, who flew in just the night before from London where he was training for the upcoming Olympics.

In the end, Dawson took third in the creek race, just six seconds off Troutman's winning time of 2:40 and four seconds behind Jackson at 2:42. For the women, Wegman finished first at 2:47, followed by Jull in second at 3:01 and fellow Kiwi Toni George at 3:03. “It was amazing that Dane and I were so close with the course being as rocky as it was,” says Troutman. “It was great training for the Homestake race at the Teva Games.

Wegman attests to rock-dodging being a determining factor. “You had to look to see where the deepest water was,” she says. “It was a hard course, but you could really feel it when you hit the right line.”

Jackson's win in freestyle and second-place showing in the creek race tied Troutman's win in the creek race and silver showing in freestyle point-wise, and in the end the two tied for top honors, with Pofferberger taking third. For the women, Wegman took top overall honors, followed by Kerin and Jull.
“Even given the low water, the feature in Steamboat is one of the best we have on the entire circuit,” says head judge Justin Owen.

“All in all, it was a great event again, testing a little of everything,” says organizer Eugene Buchanan, adding that the event was also a part of the REP Whitewater Series, sponsored, in part, by Bomber Gear, a cash purse series held at river parks designed by Boulder, Colo.'s Recreation Engineering & Planning. “I think it helped ready everybody for the Teva Games.”

Overall Results
Martina Wegman Creek time: 2:47:75 (1); Freestyle finish: 2
Courtney Keria Creek time: 3:12:55 (5); Freestyle finish: 1
Louise Jull Creek time: 3:01 (2); Freestyle finish: 3
1.Dane Jackson Creek time: 2:42:19 (2); Freestyle finish: 1 Points 55
Nick Troutman Creek time: 2:40:04 (1); Freestyle finish: 2 Points 55
3.Jordan Poffenberger(C1) Creek time: 3:02:34 (4); Freestyle finish: 3 Points 39
Mike Dawson Creek time: 2:46:12 (3); Freestyle finish: 6 Points 37
Luke Farney Creek time: 3:18:83 (6); Freestyle finish: 4 Points 36