This year, to win a place in Team France and thereby compete in the Freestyle World Championships in Nantahala, USA, from 2nd to 8th September, athletes first have to partake in a two-step selection proceedure. The first took place in Tournon St Martin (in the ‘Centre’ region) on the 6th and 7th April.
All the French kayak elite gathered for these preliminary selections. For two days, preliminary heats were followed by quarter finals were followed by semi-finals … Competition was tough and athletes got stronger as the level increased. On Sunday, you could feel the pressure in the air ; 5 competitors in each category and limited places in Team France.
For the Junior Women and Junior Men, there was just one Team France place each. Two WK places were available , 1 place for a Freestyle canoeist and 4 MK places were free.
Athletes fought it out through their McNasty, Tricky Wu and other elite moves.
For the Junior Women, Guénolé Bourgoin paddled to victory in this heat and Thomas Richard won the Junior Men! In the Women’s category, Marlène Devillez, current European Champion, took first place, followed by Pauline Sourrouille, both from the 2012 Team France.
In the MC category Sebastien Devred (current Freestyle MK vice-European champion) snatched victory and followed-up in his kayak where he also took the 1st place with a 1800-point run. Mathieu Dumoulin came a close second.
Three weeks of intense training followed before the athletes met up again at the mythical Pau white-water center in the South of France for the final leg of the Team France 2013 selections. On the 27th and 28th April, the same competitors gave their best in order to move up the tables or defend their hard-won position from Tournon St Martin.
After fierce competition between super-hyped athletes, the much-awaited results …
JWK champion is Guénolé Bourgoin, followed closely by Céline Ressuge.
Thomas Richard, stood on the top step in JMK with an 865-point run.
For the women, Marlène Devillez kept her current title with a magnificent score of 1115 !
Jonathon Suc took first place for freestyle canoe.
Best score for MK was an impressive 1515 run from Sébastien Devred followed by Timothée Bernard and Mathieu Dumoulin.
The weekend was full of exiting developments and a strong Team France 2013 was carved !
Thanks Mehdi Benounis and Nuria Fontané Maso for the pictures!