Semi Finals: The Stars Align for Katya!

Katya eye’s beaming after her rides!

Yesterday was a packed day of semi finals, often times semi’s end up being the biggest fight of all the rounds, everyone wants to make the final so badly you can’t imagine.

I’m afraid I didn’t watch the squirt or Junior mens but you can find the full results here:

We arrived just in time to watch the C1 semi’s and boy was I glad we did, I’ve never seen such a high standard of paddling in C1, everyone flew but the real star for me was USA’s Tad Dennis with a score of 1086 which would have qualified him 4th in the mens semi’s!!! It was so beautiful to watch one move dynamically into the next flawlessly. In his hands C1 looked like an advantage if anything. All the more impressive is that he’s a slalom paddler only recently into freestyle. I was blown away.

Then for the main classes of Women’s & Men’s K1. Both held under floodlights at 9 & 10pm with a packed stadium. It felt like a scene where Gladiators would come to do battle not a freestyle event, and this describe’s it pretty well, the atmosphere was electric!














Women’s Semi Final

In the Women’s one of the first to go was my lovely wife & Palm paddler Katya Kulkova. Her first ride didn’t go as she hoped getting 96 but then she put her self together and kicked ass with a spectacular 2nd ride of huge moves scoring 546!!! A personal best ride for her in competition and the result of a year of working incredibly hard on her paddling and competing. I was so proud and happy with her! The score was so good that it landed her 2nd place, just a handful of points behind GB’s Claire O’Hara.

Claire was under intense pressure after not making enough points in her first ride to make the cut, it was all down to her last ride. You could definitely see the tension on her face, it wasn’t her usual style of ride but she methodically ticked off the moves with a nice flourish of her usual character at the end to take the top spot.

Palm’s Anne Hubner also made the finals in 4th, with a very calm & collected display. Adrienne from the USA who I’m sure is over the moon from took the last position.

The other paddler that made it, that made my day was Hitomi from Japan, who’s been doing some great rides in practice but I feared might not be able to show it in comp with all the nerves etc, but she did and she shined in the process!!!

I wish congratulations to all the girls who made it!! Especially though I’m pleased such talented paddlers as Katya & Hitomi finally showed what they’re capable of in competition. One of the hardest battles with competition, especially if you haven’t competed that long is mastering how to bring your best out everytime, (something that I still struggle with) and I’m just so happy that Hitomi & Katya shined and wish that they continue shining. The best final in my eyes is one where everyone does their absolute best and is ranked accordingly.

















Mens Semi Final

Now the men’s was intense!!! Everyone looked a little nervous. The rides were a little lower scoring than Quarters for most but a few paddlers really excelled themselves.

Notably GB/ Palm’s Alan Ward the 2005 Junior Champion threw down as hard as he could and made his way to the biggest finals in the sport, knocking one of the favourites Mathieu Dumoulin out in the process. I’m sorry for Mathieu as I would have loved to see his beautiful style and rides in Finals and I think he will be missed in that line up, but at the same time i’m really pleased Alan has got there, he’s a great paddler, he really focused this year and he deserves this. Well done Wardy!! I’ll be cheering you on!!!




Next paddler that really excelled in my opinion was my Dagger team mate Tomasz Czaplicki from Poland, he is a beautiful paddler to watch and has been one of the best in Europe for years just somehow always dropped under the radar in the big events but now paired with the killing machine of the Carbon Jitsu, he threw huge, fast & clean to get 2nd spot behind Dane with 1203 points just 27 shy of Dane. For him he has no pressure now and I really believe he can win here, and i’ll be the first to congratulate him if he does. There is nothing better than watching a friend show their potential and be the best they can be!




Dane took the win again and is one of the best paddlers to watch although this time he did it without with his usual panache, I think he needs to be careful in the final as they’ll all be gunning for him and their is some serious talent there.



Peter Csonka took 3rd place, he looked tense and it showed but he’s my favourite still. He’s the best competitor there. He was my inspiration to start training seriously that resulted in my 2011 win, he’s come so close so many times and I really hope he shows his best rides here as he deserves it!



Last spot went to the powerful frenchman Sebastien Devred!


Finals have already started and you can see them here:





Well done everyone, I’ll be cheering you on!



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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