Summer Sessions II – Video

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2013 Salt Kayak Festival


This year we discovered a new place we love to paddle & train – La Pilastra in the city of Salt Catalonia. It’s a small playspot hidden away in the city 10 mins from the beautiful Girona it’s a ideal place to paddle and stay.

European Mens champion Quim invited us here to his home spot earlier in the year and we really enjoyed the hole, the place & the people so we were excited to be invited to the Salt Kayak Festival this last weekend.

The competition attracted most of Europe’s top freestylers & even some of the top creek racers so the level was as expected very high.










The first event to go was the boatercross, involving paddling in a course around various buoys, having to complete 3 rolls, then getting out half way, running up to the top of a ramp and launching in ready to sprint the last 100m to the finish. It’s on a very easy grade 2 stretch but made interesting by the obstacles & challenges thrown in.

In the men’s it was a very close battle between Gerd Serrasolses ESP & Eric Deguil FRA but in the final David Pierron of france squeezed his way inbetween them to take 2nd. Gerd took 1st with a healthy lead and Eric 3rd.

The women’s boatercross looked like an even more aggressive fight than the men’s, but in the final Alicia Casas Zaragoza took the win by a long way followed by Nuria Fontane Maso 2nd, Pauline Sourrouille 3rd and Katya 4th.

Both Alicia & Gerd used the re-released Dagger RPM, looked to be awesome for this kind of racing.

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The main event though was the Freestyle: Salt is the spot of one of the World Cup events next year so most of us were keen to get a feel for competing here. It’s also Quim’s home spot so everyone knew it would be hard to better his rides here. The hole is really good, not super easy but fun to paddle.

The prelims you had 4 rides of 30 seconds with the varety of all moves in all rides added together (1 move only scores once in all your rides). This was actually really refreshing, you got to show everything you could do. Quim took 1st, me 2nd and Sebastian Devred 3rd.

In the semi final I had a great ride even getting one of my trophy moves in at the end to take the win, Mathieu Dumoulin was 2nd, Sebastian 3rd.

Finals was very closely fought round, watching it was hard to tell who would be where, it looked like it’d come down to whichever style they were judging. I had good rides but think I used my best a round too early to come 4th. Quim took the win, Mathieu 2nd and Sebastian 3rd.

In the women’s prelims katya killed it to score 755 & the top spot!! She just goes so big and nice, it’s beautiful watching her paddle when she’s flying! Nuria Fontane Maso was 2nd and France’s Pauline was 3rd.

In the finals Nuria took the win with a solid performance, 2nd was Pauline and 3rd went to Katya. It had been a long day of paddling and I think both me & Katya ran out of steam, we showed our best a round to early.

Full Results of all events: Resultats SKF 2013

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It had been an awesome day, it’s a really great atmosphere at these events and we got to catch up with friends we hadn’t seen for a long time, get closer to competitors we paddled with all year but in a more fun based event people are more relaxed and generally just enjoy paddling at such a good hole in a beautiful spot.

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The evening was a free competitors dinner & international film festival. The paddler’s vote went to Gerd’s Stikene Film and was duly awarded the first place.

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Sunday was a big surprise. One day a year the dam releases and the upper stretch of the river runs. What we didn’t guess was how good it is! The first drop is the outflow tube, immense power kicks up a big wavey hole, that looks like something you’d see in Uganda! Katya even got surfed around for 20 seconds before getting flung out downstream then we had various rapids of differing difficulties for the next hour to the take out. There must have been over 100 paddlers out so there was some great carnage but most of all many happy paddlers. It wasn’t that hard a run but it was fierce enough to be fun for everyone. At the take out the organisers gave everyone another free dinner before everyone headed off their separate ways.

You got treated so well at these events, free dinners, shuttles, good competition, entertainment, rash vests & prize money – I think the Organisers of Worlds could have used some inspiration for how you run events. Here you’re made to feel welcome and guaranteed a great experience regardless of how you do.

Again a big thank you to Quim, Nuria & all Fontane Maso family for another great time here in Catalonia, we loved the event and can’t wait to come back at next years World Cup!!! Such a good place to paddle & stay.

We even managed to squeeze in a trip to the beach and a visit to Salvador Dali’s house 🙂



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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!


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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!


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Women’s Prelims & Men’s Quarters – Upsets & Glory!

Palm’s Katya going huge to take her semi finals place!

Yesterday was a long day of competition we had the Women’s Prelims & Mens Quarters. The standard was fierce, the battle was on and inevitably it was the first day that we suffered some unexpected casualties from the main contenders in both classes…

Women’s Prelims – Cut to 10

For the women’s Palm’s Katya Kulkova & Anne Hubner both made the cut. Katya faltered a little bit at the start of her ride but then pit her self together beautifully to comfortably take her place in the next round, I feel she’s right on the verge of being able to take a medal this time if she shows anywhere near what I know she can do.




The biggest star though of the women’s was GB’s current World Champion Claire O’hara, she placed first and her 2nd ride of 800+ was spectacular and I think her best competition ride ever so she’s definitely a hot favourite for the win here if she can keep it up.

Also making it was Ruth Gordon Ebens in 2nd, Japanese girl Hitomi, SVK’s Nina Csonkova, Adrienne from the USA, Elaine Campbbell from the USA, NZ’s Courtney Kerin and finally Islay Crosbie from GB (not in the correct order see results below).

But the first unexpected casualty was Marlene Devillez from France, the double European champion, she’d had some great practice rides but competition is a fickle beast and sometimes no matter how good you are or how hard you try things just don’t go your way.














Mens Quarters – Cut to 10

The men’s quarters was insane, some of the best freestyle paddling ever seen in competition.




Dane Jackson went huge and Clean to get 3106, Mathieu Dumoulin with his beautiful linked sequences really stole the show to get 2616 and Peter Csonka powered his way to a huge score of 2369! Needless to say they all killed it and finished top 3 😉





Palm & GB’s Bren Orton & Alan Ward also made the cut, performing what they needed to under intense competition. Please cheer them on and give them all the support you can in the next round. They’re both capable of making finals but with this standard of competition it’s going to be tough even at your best.




I do promise to get some better photos of them today though since i’m not competing now 😉

My friend and recent Dagger paddler Tomasz Czaplicki from Poland easily made it, he’s a paddler who has been so good for years and somehow always misses out in the big events. With the Jitsu though it looks like he’s in his element and going for glory!


For myself it just wasn’t to be this time, I’d been getting rides over 1700 in practice and almost every time over 1000, I didn’t feel nervous or pressure, I’m the strongest and fittest I’ve ever been, my skills are by far the best they’ve ever been, I have the best boat and the best kit available but for some reason I didn’t show anywhere near my best this event. I came 11th just missing the semi’s by 13 points… I’m not really upset at all, I know what to do to make myself unbeatable again and this just makes me more determined.

Full Mens Results:

I have had some great help from Dennis Newton my coach who has really pushed my kayaking to a new level this year, and with such great sponsors as Palm, Dagger & Teva supporting me I’m using the best of the best in all areas of equipment. I’m enjoying myself kayaking and competing more than ever, even this event I really enjoyed. I just feel like this event was to teach me how to lose properly and now it’s my chance to take my skills to a new level and be the best I can be.


Anyhow follow the semi’s live tonight! Please cheer on anyone who looks to be flying as they deserve your support, the GB paddlers & my lovely wife Katya!

Yesterdays Recap Video:

Big thanks to my sponsors for supporting me and to Dennis my coach! Sorry it didn’t work out this time 😉


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2013 Worlds: Mens Prelims

Bren and all the GB men safely through to the next round!

The long day of Men’s Prelims has come to a close. Prelims are always a bit of a weird one, you have no throw away rides (2 rides – combined score counts) and everyone is usually a bit tense, you get some paddlers saving themselves and others going all out to show what they can do. Some people got lucky, some didn’t but now its over, those that are through can settle down a bit and start showing what they can really do without the nerves and pressure of the first round.












For myself I was eager to get started, first ride was going great until I got a bit hung up on my Lunar, then 2nd ride went all a little bit off my usual style, but it was enough to put me in 9th with 1829 points (cut is to 20), not my best by a long way but good to get the nerves out of the system. I like not being too high up the placings until the later rounds but also don’t want to cut it too close. Last Worlds I think I started similarly so lets hope I follow that Worlds trend 😉










All GB men made the cut! So we’re super stoked! Palm’s Bren Orton safely took 8th with 1859 and Alan Ward took 16th with 1610.




All the favourites safely made it through with no major upsets, and now people will be more settled and I expect the top positions will be switching every round until finals with things so close.












Overall win for the day went to Dane Jackson, he did two very consistent rides with many huge moves to take the top spot. Mathieu Dumoulin linked it up to take 2nd followed by a powerful showing by Peter Csonka to take 3rd, Nicholas Troutman was 4th, Jason Craig 5th and fellow Dagger paddler Tomasz Czaplicki in 6th. (full results below).















Tomorrow we have Women’s Prelims in the morning then Mens quarters in the afternoon. So please cheer us all on as we’ll need all the support we can get! Tune into the live stream on


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2013 World Champs begin!


On Monday evening the 2013 World Freestyle Kayak Championships opened with the official ceremony in Bryson City. Bryson City is actually a little town but it seemed like every person who lives here came out to greet the athletes as we paraded down the main street.














The local Cherokee tribe took part in the ceremony with a show of their traditional singing & dancing even grabbing athletes and members of the crowd to join the dancing. It was a really nice touch to welcome all nations, become friends and get to see the culture of the people who originally lived on this land and are luckily still keeping their traditional ways and culture going. Straight afterwards Kayakers took to the big air ramp to kick off the show and the event until musicians took over the entertainment with a big concert along the street.












This opening ceremony definitely gave us a distinct taste of America and some of it’s unique characters who came to greet us, some of them that you could definitely only see here. It was really nice though that so many people came to welcome us, see our sport and have a good time socialising with the athletes.







Today (Tuesday) the competition finally started with Junior Mens & OC1 prelims. Rides were as we were expecting of a very high standard.

Junior Men’s prelims was stormed by the USA’s Hunter Katich, we hadn’t seen him in training so hadn’t counted him as a favourite, turns out he’d been sick so had been away, now back on the water it looks like the rest has paid off as he is now definitely THE favourite, scoring 1979, with his best ride getting 1100+, a score that would likely put him in the senior mens semi’s. But not far behind was Max Karlson of SWE in 2nd with 1206, Thomas Richard of FRA was 3rd with 1138 & in 4th was USA’s Alec Vorhees. (Alec I should have mentioned as another favourite in my last blog as he’s been flying, just somehow slipped my mind. Sorry Alec).


Hunter Katich  – USA


Max Karlson – SWE


Alec Vorhees – USA


Click the above results to see full size.




Even with Hunter’s impressive win today it’s hard to know if everyone was going all out or saving something for later, in my eye’s the event is still wide open, I think between them a huge fight for Gold is brewing. My personal pick is still that Max of Sweden will take the win.

Regarding the GBR boys they’d been doing great in practice and am sorry to report none of them made the cut to 10. Brandurn Hepburn just missed out in 11th. A hard thing to take for him, he is a great paddler and one who i was sure to see in finals, but often when you miss your target like this, when the sadness fades it’ll really spur you on, so I think he’ll come back even better and deadlier in thge future for sure!

A great performance though came from GBR’s 14 year old Jake Norman, at his first international event came in 12th! He’d really impressed me in training with his never give up attitude, focused approach and big moves. I know he wanted to go further but this was a great first showing for him and he’ll be one to watch in the coming years, i’d tip him to be a Junior Champion next time and if he keeps going the way he is will be a at the very top very quickly.

Open Canoe has usually been considered a bit of a joke but this Worlds I’ve seen moves being thrown I never thought would be seen in OC1. In practice I’ve been forced to take back my previous criticisms of the discipline as Jordan and Dane of the USA have been regularly getting Fonix’s, Mc’Nasties, Loops, Lunar Orbits and much more!!! No surprises that Jordan Poffenburger took the top spot with Dane Jackson just behind. It’s actually going to be a good battle to watch between them!!!

Too watch the events live see:

For the event schedule check out:

For full results:

Well that’s it for today, tomorrow is squirt events then Mens Prelims are on Thursday, Women’s Prelims on Friday so please watch online & cheer us on!!!

Next Update on Thursday,


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