2015 ICF World Freestyle Championships Underway on Garburator

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If the lead up to this year’s ICF World Freestyle Championships are any indicator of what’s to come over the few days, spectators will be in for a treat as the top athletes from around the world have gathered on the Ottawa River to throw down on Garb.

Opening ceremonies took place in Beachburg, Ontario, on Sunday with amazing local support. Dozens of floats from local paddling and community groups participated, ICF officials were onsite and Eric Jackson was on stage to help MC the welcoming of the atheletes. 

One of the biggest stories leading up to this year’s event was the Ugandan Freestyle team being denied their visas to travel to Canada twice before finally getting permission to enter Canada to compete. The team landed on August 24th, one day after official team training began, thanks in large part to a crowdfunding campaign to help them offset the expensive application process. Paddlers and locals alike donated to the cause, and the team was given a standing ovation as they entered the opening cermonies.


Day one of competition began Monday, August 31 at McCoy’s chute on the Ottawa River for the squirt division.

“It’s called Smoothie because the currents are strong, consistent, and predictable,” says Ottawa Valley local and team Canada member, Lars Romeskie. A combination of a large deep eddy allows for surface moves, and the “squeeze” at Smoothie for allows squirtboaters to get those long downtimes on their mystery moves. “The squeeze is where the upstream current from the eddy meets the downstream flows, allows you to tap into deeper subsurface currents that you can ride through the eddy and under it,” says Romeskie.

First on the water was the women’s division, with heavyweights Claire O’Hara (GBR), Elaine Campbell (USA) and Yoshiko Suematsu (JPN). Competition was tight, but Claire came away a three-time world champion, and immediately following her winning ride, accepted a marriage proposal to boyfriend, Jez Jezz (AUS). In the men’s division, longtime friends Stephen Wright (USA) and Clay Wright (USA) were the ones to beat, with Stephen Wright coming out on top in the end. “He trains harder and longer than all the rest of his competition,” says Romeskie, “but does so in a way that it’s just so much fun to be around him and hanging out underwater!”

Tuesday morning saw the Men’s OC1 preliminaries taking place first thing, followed closely by Jr Womens and Jr Men’s K1 preliminaries. All of the action can be watched live online if you can’t attend in person: www.worldfreestylekayakchampionships.com


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