Fans of freestyle kayaking will know Dane Jackson as a long-time fixture in the winners’ circle. Dane’s exploits on and off the race course are splashy and celebrated, following in the footsteps of his Olympian father. However, you might not know these fun facts about the whitewater wunderkind.

  1. Dane spent 270 days on the water in 2013 (yes, he kept count). “It was a slow year,” he says, disappointed by a number below 300.
  2. He may have surpassed his father in freestyle scores at the 2013 ICF Freestyle World Championships, but he can’t beat EJ in a round of golf—a primary pastime at the Jackson compound in Rock Island, Tennessee.
  3. Dane listens to the same pump up playlist before every competition—a mostly Dubstep tracklist, including mind-blasting beats from Rusko and Flux Pavilion. The first track is Krewella’s Play Hard.
  1. Dane has severe hearing loss. It’s only about 30 percent of what it should be, he says. “Reading lips is a big part of being able to communicate.” From a kayak he can read the lips of someone standing on shore. EJ has similar troubles hearing, but for Dane, being born three months premature exacerbated the problem.
  2. Dane is incapable of imagining himself in a non-athletic career. When asked (in 10 different ways) what conventional career he’d pick if he had to spend his life off the water, his answer was “a boulderer.”
  3. Since dominating in one extreme sport isn’t enough, Dane wants to take the world of competitive climbing by storm. Climbing started as a cross-training exercise to strengthen his shoulders for kayaking, but a new sport is fun, he says, because when you’re used to being a pro, “sucking at something” is a serious motivator.
  1. His secret to crushing competition? Relearn every move for each individual feature. “I forget everything I know and relearn it to get it to work for that hole,” he says. He started from scratch with the McNasty at the Nantahala Outdoor Center to train for the Worlds.
  2. He says his favorite freestyle trick is the Lunar Orbit.
  3. Also eluding him are the steps towards his eventual goal of being a family man like EJ. “The problem with how much I travel and how I live in the middle of nowhere when I’m home, is that a girlfriend is definitely not super easy to find.”
  4. Dane was homeschooled in the Jackson family’s RV, but the sound of the river made it hard to do his homework. “It was really hard to want to do school when I could just walk out the door and go kayaking,” he says. He was far enough behind by tenth grade that he decided to make paddling a full-time gig.

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  1. In his 20 years on planet Earth, Dane has been to six continents, 20 countries, has paddled on approximately 200 rivers, dropped 10 different waterfalls (only counting ones over 40 feet high, of course), broken three paddles, zero bones, and gotten eight sets of stitches.


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