The Final Showdown – 2013 Worlds


The 2013 Worlds has come to a close and I’ve never seen such closely fought finals or whole event actually. It was one of the best spectacle’s freestyle kayaking has ever seen. From the atmosphere, to the crowd support & the calibre of athlete, everyone involved can be proud to have been a part of this event.

Junior Men

In the Junior men we saw a glimpse into the future top men of Kayaking, and it’s not going to be much a jump up for the top 3.


In 3rd place we had Alec Voorhees, a paddler that really impressed me, I saw him paddle last year and he was good but then this year he’s managed to learn all moves, and manages to throw them on demand, a very nice style and good attitude too, if he add’s a bit of speed in there this coming year he’s going to really cause some trouble.


2nd spot went to my French friend Thomas Richard, a paddler so smooth, precise and stylish that you can’t help but stop and watch him when he starts ripping, he threatened to finish the finals on his first ride with a 1006 point ride almost sealing 1st place for himself, but Hunter stepped up to the mark. Thomas though is a big star in the making and I’m really happy for him!




A deserved 1st place went to Hunter Katich from the USA with a whopping 1200 points (a score that puts him 4th in the men, just 40points of winning men’s). He was simply the best through the whole event, and he’s making senior men very scared already 😉 Well done Hunter, a spectacular win!



Junior Women

Junior women’s was the best fight i’ve ever seen in this class, the standard was awesome. It was a true battle for first between Nuria Fontane Maso of Spain and Rowan Stewart of  USA. Nuria has the consistency, but Rowan had the bigger moves.

In the end Rowan pulled it out of the bag with her Phonic’s & Mc’Nasties, the first time these moves have been shown in a Junior Women’s final which just shows how the standard is growing to incredible levels. She won with a score of 423 a fantastic display!

Nuria Fontane Maso ended up 2nd with a very valiant fight, she was a fierce competitior and came very close to snatching the title with her 380 point ride. She performed brilliantly and can be proud of herself, with a big move thrown in next time the title would be hers, I’m sure we’ll see a lot more of her in the future.

Kim Aldred of GB rounded out the top 3 giving a solid performance to score 200 points! I think she will be please with this and know that with a another 2 years work she will be a contender for Gold!



The C1 it was one of the best fights ever seen. It was between USA’s Tad Dennis, Jordan Poffenberger & Dane Jackson all were worthy of the win. I’ve never seen such high scoring rides from C1.

1st place was commandingly sealed by Jordan Poffenberger with a huge 1068 point ride. He was the most deserving of the 3 and rightfully took his Gold medal home. The best C1 paddler over the last few years it’s only correct he was rewarded for his incredible skills and huge snappy, spectacular moves.



2nd went to the new star of C1 Tad Dennis, only recently switching to Freestyle from Slalom, if he keeps at it, he’ll be unbeatable! His semi’s performance was heat stoppingly good.



3rd went to Dane Jackson, no surprises that he made top 3, but now it looks like he has some stiff competition in C1, he had some spectacular rides and some of the biggest moves.


Women K1

In the Women’s I first want to mention my wife Katya, it was the first finals ever made by a Russian and her best result ever, she was the star of the show in semi’s and deserved a medal place. Finals day came and the tiredness of the week and the late night semi’s caught up with her. She threw her hardest, almost getting her Nasty or Fonix 3 times then just flushing a bit too far to score,  she ended up 5th. Watching her get a spectacular 2nd place in the semi’s was one of the best days of my life, I’d actually rate the feelings above winning 2011 Worlds for myself. For her this is just the beginning of things to come…





4th went to Palm’s Anne Hubner, she is such a good competitor and has made such good progress in her freestyle this last year, it’s a shame she missed the podium but I can already see the new stars that are rising up. I was very impressed with you Anne, You and Katya are going to be killing it in the years to come!


3rd place went to a very surprised Adrienne Levknecht, a result I think she’s ecstatic about, normally rated as the top creek racer she’s now proved herself as a top Freestyle contender too, incredible!


Now the battle for the top spot was immense, Hitomi Takatu of Japan looked like she had it in the bag with her 1st ride score of 650, it was such a great performance by her and she really deserved the win too. Hitomi is an amazing talent and surely a Champion of the future!






Claire looked under pressure and everyone thought Hitomi was going to take the Gold but then in her last ride, Claire O’hara of GBR showed the true qualities of a champion and rose to the occasion snatching her 2nd World title and the Gold medal with a 705 point ride, such a good performance under that kind of pressure! I think Claire has really pushed on the level of women’s kayaking with many now doing the bigger moves and not putting limits in their heads. Claire just managed to win this time and I think next time the other girls inspired by Claire’s success will be there to really take the battle to the next level.







The men’s final was so so close you can’t believe, the top 3 were separated by just 32 points basically 1 cartwheel and the top 2 by 8 points (less than a spin). It seems a shame they don’t all get a Gold when it’s that close as that really isn’t anything between them, it all comes down to judging when it’s that close.

Top place went to Dane Jackson of the USA with 1240. It wasn’t his best display ever, but if you look at how he paddled through the whole event he deserved this win. He just goes so big & clean the bonus’s he racks up make him very hard to beat (as shown 😉 Congrats Dane!




I thought Slovakia’s Peter Csonka had the win with his first ride, but he must have not scored something as he ended up 2nd for the third time in his life. With a score of 1233…8 points from winning…

I’m sorry for Peter he was the paddler who first inspired me to train and learn all my moves both ways in 2007 then together with Katya’s influence in 2009 they motivated me to get out of Uganda, stop wasting my life and begin training properly, he along with Katya are the main two reason’s I won Worlds in 2011. He is such a good competitor, paddler and generally nice guy. I’m sure it’s heart breaking for him to come so so close yet again, but in my eyes he’s a real World Champion even if he hasn’t got the medal to prove it (yet…) For the record I scored you 1300 minimum, which would have been 1st.

It’s been a pleasure competing with you this last few years Peter and I wish we can be in a Worlds final together again next time both of us at our best!



3rd spot went to my good friend & fellow Dagger paddler Tomasz Czaplicki of Poland. He showed how big and snappy he & the Jitsu are and was the surprise star of this Worlds. He came 3rd with 1208! He was also deserving of the win.

Tomasz is a paddler i’ve admired for years and I’m so pleased things finally came together for him this year. I think he’s going to be getting plenty more medals in the coming years and am stoked to paddle on the same team as him! His moves were the most spectacular of the whole event.






5th spot deserves a mention too. Alan Ward or GBR returned to glory and put on a valiant display, the only paddler in the final with a full-time job, I can only imagine what he would do with his full attention! I was really proud of him and how he focused this time, I hope we can both be in a finals together one day! It’s brilliant we have such talent in the UK!





Final Comments

Well that’s it for now, a huge thanks to the organisers, the judges, the people of North Carolina, all my personal sponsors and my family & friends for supporting me.

We had a great time at the event. I know that I had the potential to win here based on my practice rides but not the consistency as it turns out. I just never really got going this time. I’m not disappointed at all though, coming short is a part of winning, being a top athlete you have to accept that in order to win, sometimes you have to fall short. I trained my hardest, did everything I could and am the best kayaker i’ve ever been. I have the best boat, kit and coach (Dennis Newton) so it’s just a matter of time before I’m back up there on the podium again. I know exactly what I need to do to be unbeatable so that’s my target for the next 2 years.

What I did learn here was that coming 11th didn’t touch my happiness or enjoyment of being at the event. I love my competitors for being so damn good, having such a calibre of paddler to compete against is what makes it so fun, if it would be easy, life would be a bore, but its such an exciting challenge! I think what I learnt from this trip is how to be a happier better person…to me at least more valuable than if I would have won, maybe that’s the lesson I had to learn before I can get to the top again.

The true purpose of Worlds - Uniting paddlers from around the World and pushing each other forwards!

Well done to all competitors, I wish everyone could be a winner, and they all are in my eyes!



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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