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Eighteen-year-old Emily Jackson led the gold medal count during her famous family’s annual foray to major freestyle kayak competitions in the West this spring.
Beginning at Reno River Festival in May, where for the first time the Jackson family swept the podium in their respective classes, Emily proved her dominance in the women’s pro events. Emily won the Reno River Festival for the first time, Teva Mountain Games for the fourth time and successfully defended her US National Championship title at the recently concluded 60th Annual Blue Paddle FIBArk Whitewater Festival. In Salida, CO. At FIBArk, she also finished first in the Women’s K-1 Slalom.
â€œEmily is in a league of her own on a wave or in a hole,â€ said her understandably proud father, reigning World Freestyle Champion Eric â€œEJâ€ Jackson. As proof, in Reno Emily became the first woman to break the 100-point barrier in freestyle scoring. Veteran Tanya Faux told a Reno newspaper that Emily Jackson is the â€œfuture of women’s kayaking.â€ According to her legendary father, Emily is nailing high-scoring moves such as blunt-McNasty combos, can throw Phonix Monkeys, nails her McNasty rights every time and throws the Tricky Wu better than many male competitors.
Next up in No. 1 hardware count on the tour this spring is 14-year-old Dane Jackson. As mentioned above, Dane won the junior men’s division at Reno, made it to the semifinals at Vail, and at FIBArk scored a duo of National Championship titles with wins in both C-1 and Junior Men’s Freestyle.
â€œDane’s still a bit of a loose canon,â€ said his dad. â€œHe can miss 5 moves in a row, or he can earn more points in 10 seconds than anyone in 60.â€
Uncharacteristically, Reno was 44-year-old Eric Jackson’s only title among this year’s major Western comps. In Vail, he placed second behind Dustin Urban, one of the newest members of Team Jackson Kayak. The next week at FIBArk, longtime Team JK rider and training partner Stephen Wright upset Jackson’s bid to defend his National Championship title. Although he had to settle for silver in freestyle, the former Olympian took home gold in Men’s K-1 Slalom.
â€œThe competition this year has ramped up considerably. There’s a lot stronger depth of field which makes it a lot more fun going into the finals,â€ Jackson said, adding with a smile, â€œI still like my chances best.â€
The next competitive stop for the Jacksons will be in August when they head to Europe to compete in the World Cup series of events taking place in the Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland.
To learn more about the Jacksons or their best-selling line of whitewater kayaks, visit JacksonKayak.com.