Time to pick our hot favourites for Worlds


It’s now just 2 more days of training left before the 2013 Freestyle Kayak World Championships kicks off here at NOC.

Everyone is here now and has had a chance to get used to the hole and various paddlers are really looking good. I actually think this will be the most hard fought Worlds ever, there has never been so many paddlers training full or almost full time with such good equipment: carbon boats, cagdecks, lightweight plastic. Most teams even have 1 or 2 coaches working with them.

It’s hard to really pick one favourite not just in men’s but in all categories. The problem is that the standard is so high. On their good days upto 10 paddlers in the men’s could realistically win here. I think the key will be who manages to keep a good attitude, enjoy themselves and not get too caught up on the idea of winning.





Personally, I had a breakthrough in my paddling a week or so ago when GB team coach Dennis Newton arrived and ever since I’ve felt on fire. I’ve had 3 rides I think would stand a very good chance of winning so am feeling confidant. That said it’s going to be hard for sure. Having won last time I feel no pressure to win here I just want to do my personal best rides and enjoy the event.

Katya has been looking really good, she had a rest day yesterday and today she totally ripped, if she keeps paddling like she is doing she will be a very strong contender for the Gold.

Also from the GB team & Palm team Bren Orton has been getting some top rides, I haven’t watched him too closely as we paddle at the same times but he is easily capable of a medal here and can throw some of the nicest moves of anyone. Then there is Alan Ward the 2005 Junior World Champion, who is getting better and better here, I’ve actually always admired how he paddles and he seems focused this year so I reckon we could see him right up there too.


Here is a video Alan threw together of our 2nd team training:

BUT if I was forced to choose some possible favourites beside myself, Bren & Alan here are my top tips on who to look out for.

Senior Men


Peter Csonka: 2012 World Cup winner and twice World Championships silver medallist I think Peter wants this one more than anyone. He won the World Cup event here last year and if he’s at his best will be the most difficult paddler to beat.


Dane Jackson: Dane is in his first year competing as a senior at a World Championships and he is going constantly huge on at least 2 or 3 moves a ride, he will be one of the most impressive to watch regardless of score but we’ll see if he’ll be able to fit in enough moves in the 45 seconds to take the win. In my eyes he’ll be on the podium for sure, just which place is a mystery.


Mathieu Dumoulin: Mathieu the double European champion loves smooth flowing sequences of linked moves, it’s very beautiful to watch. Sometimes he might miss the angles on a few things but I’ve seen him hit some winning rides in practice and if he is careful with making sure he scores everything he can possibly do the highest scoring ride of anyone.


Sebastien Devred: former Junior World Cup winner, he is a very powerful methodical paddler and looks very in control. His rides seem to be coming together and he’ll go for every move possible. It lacks a bit of the flair of some of the others but he is very consistent whereas everyone else is more up and down.


Nick Troutman: the 2009 Men’s World Champion, he’s a great competitor and very strong, fast and snappy. You can really tell he has done a lot of work this last two years as his hole paddling is right up there now. I’d say Nick could really fly if it all comes together in one ride.


Jason Craig: the 2009 Junior Men’s World Champion, he has one of the snappiest styles of anyone and loves going big, in my opinion if he focus’s and really concentrates on a smart ride he will be in the medals.


Tomasz Czaplicki: Tomasz from Poland is one of my favourite paddlers to watch, I’ve admired his style for years and has had some good results in Europe and I think this year might be the time for him to finally show his potential internationally. He’s just started using the carbon Dagger Jitsu and is literally flying in it. If he can show in the comp what I’ve seen of him so far he’s going to cause some big upsets 🙂

Senior Women

In women’s it looks like the battle for the medals is wide open. Every girl would sell her soul for some consistency. No one seems to paddle the same level every day, but I will at least pick the ones who’ve showed some potential during this couple of weeks:


Claire O’Hara: the current World Champion from GB is still the toughest one to beat but the other girls are really biting her heels.


Katya Kulkova: she is my wife so I’m biased, but for years I’ve seen how good she is in practice and this year she’s really started to flourish in competition. (She was on the podium in every event this year). Here she can really thrown Mc’Nasties, Fonix’s, Godzilla’s all very nice and big. She has had a few rides I think would win but its still not every ride like this. She’s my top pick for the one who will cause some big surprises.


Marlene Devillez: the double European champion showed the other day a couple of potentially winning rides; mc’nastys both ways, Loops & Godzillas all nice, big and aerial, but it’s hard to tell if she will be able to pull it off in competition here. (the spot is hard).


Japanese Girls: Two Japanese girls especially Hitomi have been showing themselves as the most consistent when they’re fresh. It’s very nice to see them doing so good and I very hope to see at least one of them in the final.


Ruth Gordon: the 2007 World Champion, she’s doing some top scoring moves occasionally and of course you can never discount a competitor as experienced as her but we’ll see if she maintains the focus she used to have with the distractions of having a real job and slower lifestyle now.


Nina Csonkova: she is capable of high scoring rides if things come together for her. Knowing how good a competitor she is we expect her to get to the finals at least.


American Girls: This year US women’s team is not as strong as usually with Emily Jackson absent but their is potential for new stars like Adrienne to get their hands on a medal, but in general they start to look a bit tired after a week straight of team training.




In the Junior men’s I haven’t watched everyone but the stand out paddler for me it’s between Frances Thomas Richard who looks very good at his best but a bit inconsistent and Max Karlson of Sweden, he’s my fellow team Dagger paddler using the carbon Jitsu and simply he looks incredible, every move is huge and so snappy, I think win or not win he’s going to leave a fantastic impression on everyone who sees him. He is going to be a top paddler on the freestyle world for years if he keeps paddling how he is.


For the Junior Women’s USA’s Rowan Stewart is throwing some perfect Fonix’s and Mc’Nasties and really looks good, I’m just not sure if her consistency is good enough to topple Nuria Fontane of Spain who will be formidable for the other Junior’s to beat.

Now it’s time to get rested, have a last few easy sessions and prepare for World War 3 to kick off 😉



About James Bebbington

2011 ICF World Freestyle Kayak Champion & 2011 ICF World Cup Freestyle Kayak Champion Passionate about Kayaking, Travel, Nature, Dreams, Raw Food & the Beauty of Life. Don't give up on your dreams, listen to your heart!
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