Freestyle GB Team Trials
The day saw two events, one in inlet gate and one in troll hole, where paddlers aimed to show their skills off to the judges. There was a big turn out for most of the categories which meant paddlers had to be on top form! Luckily the sun was out so everyone was happy to be there.
Inlet gate in the morning was one for high scores, pretty much every freestyle paddler in the UK is familiar with this one of a kind feature. The junior women kicked off the days events with some very impressive rides. World champion Ottilie laid down a set of rides that would prove to be a challenge, even for the senior women! The junior men quickly followed them with some big scores. Harry Price took the win here with a score that would even beat most of the senior men!
Senior ladies then took to the feature. The only big name missing from this line up was world champions Claire O’Hara, but with her win in Argentina last year meant she was pre selected for the team. Nottingham local, and Peak UK paddler, Islay Crosbie showed off what she could do at her home spot and took that win, and giving a performance that set the crowd up nicely for the C1 heats that followed.
An abundance of juniors had joined the C1 ranks for this competition, and they showed their talent brilliantly. Junior Matt Stephenson, previously 3rd in the junior mens K1, smashed it and landed himself a 3rd in C1. But streaks ahead in his home from home inlet was Ibbo.
Senior K1 men rounded the morning off, and they did it with style! A big battle for the top spot between Peak UK paddlers Rob and Gav, and a massive battle a bit further down the ranking for those important spots on the team! Top of the rankings at the end of the morning was mr inlet himself, Rob Crowe.
Moving into the afternoon everyone moved downstream to visit the troll under the bridge. This was a much harder feature to put a good consistent run down on, but everyone still laid it down!
With the same running order as the morning, the junior girls hopped on first, once again setting the bar high. Showing her true class Ottilie came out top once again. In the junior men we saw how a cool calm style can still work in a fast pushy hole. Harry Price gracefully paddled his way back to the top of the rankings.
Next up were the women. We saw a few huge loops and space godzillas here, the women really flying high! But here it was Nottingham University paddler Emma Witherford that took the win. C1 swiftly followed with junior Matt Stephenson pushing hard again! But this time it was experience that shone through with C1 veteran Adam Ramadan taking the honours.
Finally, to round the paddling off was the senior men. Another extraordinary display of paddling skills, with every move in the book being thrown in this tricky feature. It was the local boys again who showed that their hard training was paying off, Rob Crowe and Gav Barker taking a joint win!
And with that the day’s sunny paddling was over. There were many smiles, some upset faces and a lot of sun-burnt shoulders, but as a whole it was a brilliant days competition and everyone did awesome, even if the outcome wasn’t as they hoped.
Words – Ibbo from Peak UK
Images – Tom Ibbotson & Ewan Vernon & Peak UK