All eligible voters are automatically entered to win one of three prize packages.
Voting closes July 20, 2016 at 11:59 PM PST. Prize Pack #1: MTI life jacket of winner’s choice + NRS Wedge Rescue Throw Bag Prize Pack #2: MTI life jacket of winner’s choice, NRS Wedge Rescue Throw Bag + GoPro Hero 4 Silver Prize Pack #3: MTI life jacket of winner’s choice + Level Six Chochee 2.0 Short Sleeve Dry Top OFFICIAL RULES
Alec Voorhees Age: 19 | Merdian, ID
Known For:One of whitewater’s most promising and well-rounded up-and-coming pro paddlers This Year:After a silver medal finish at the Junior world championships for freestyle, Alec went on to finish in the top 25 at the 2015 Adidas Sickline in Austria, the world’s most competitive whitewater extreme race. He returned to the US to place 6th at the Green race and spent the winter pioneering the use 360º POV footage in outdoor sports, partnering with Nikon Camera in Veracruz, Mexico. Back to competition in the spring, the young powerhouse continued his rise, winning the Steep Creek Championship at the 2016 GoPro Mountain Games.
Aniol Serrasolses Age: 27 | Catalonia, Spain
Known For:Aniol Serrasolses This Year:From Iceland to Mexico, to Chile and the USA, Aniol pushed the limits this year despite injuring his shoulder at Sunset Falls on Washington’s Skykomish River. Aniol’s major achievements this year include first descents around the world, a clean line on Chile’s infamous “ex-portacion rapid,” high water solo descents of the Alseseca River in Mexico, and the first complete descent of California’s Royal Gorge. The list could go on, but you get the picture.
Ben Marr Age: 29 | Mallorytown, Ontario
Known For:Unmatched big wave prowess and big-water style. First D of Site Zed on the Stikine and the Congo’s Inga Rapids with Fisher, Sturges and Bradt. Also, the hair. This Year:Ben Marr’s springtime “stakeout” exploits in Eastern Canada consistently produce the most impressive imagery in freestyle kayaking, and this year was no different as he explored the potential of new waves on the flooded rivers of Ontario and Quebec. Marr also pushed the limits in his creek boat on the exploratory mission to bag the first descent of the Beriman Gorge, Papua New Guinea, one of the world’s most intense, beautiful, and committing whitewater canyons.
Bren Orton Age: 22 | Warrington, England
Known For:Explosive freestyle paddling and carefree sense of humor. This Year:Bren “Brenshitz” Orton impresses us with his explosive freestyle tricks, whether he’s catching big air on waves or inventing new three-part combo moves in the UK’s hole features. He took 5th place at the ICF Freestyle World Championships last August, throwing the biggest, snappiest, and cleanest airscrews of anyone at the event. At the 2016 Nile River Festival, Orton took first place. This spring Orton road tripped around Quebec for the annual big wave “stakeout.” Bren also crushed some big waterfalls and creek boating during trips to Mexico and the Pacific Northwest.
Dane Jackson Age: 22 | Rock Island, TN Known For:Unparalleled interdisciplinary whitewater versatility, learning to kayak before some kids learn to read. This Year:Last August, Dane defended his title as the Freestyle World Champion in K1 and also took gold in C1 and silver in OC1, basically dominating the entire competition. His freestyle legend secure for another year, Dane turned to racing, with a first-place tie at the Green Race, and a win at the Lord of the Fork race to boot. He spent the winter hucking waterfalls in Mexico and Hawaii before returning to the mainland to take second place at the Little White Salmon Race, then win two events at the North Fork Championship, in Boater X and the Elite Division. Dane also took time this winter to aid the development of the sport by coaching the first ever African Freestyle Development Camp on the White Nile in Uganda.
Evan Garcia Age: 27 | Bozeman, MT Known For:Paddling’s foremost globetrotting huckster. Sending big drops with unparalleled style and spreading whitewater stoke worldwide as a founding partner in Substantial Media House. This Year:Per usual, Garcia’s online videos of global paddling dazzled our collective eyeballs and helped fan the flames of paddlers’ stoke. The 2013 C&K Paddler of the Year continued his non-stop globetrotting between classic paddling destinations including the Alps, Norway, Peru, Chile, BC, California and, of course, the Pacific Northwest. He pushed the high water limits on rivers around the globe and did it all with the smooth style that we’ve come to expect. What’s Next:Recovering from a shoulder injury incurred on California’s Royal Gorge.
Gerd Serrasolses Age: 27 | Catalonia, Spain Known For:With an insatiable appetite for big, technical whitewater and competition, Gerd is whitewater’s most formidable racer and the 2015 C&K Male Paddler of the Year. This Year: Gerd Gerd Serrasolses is a paddling machine, plain and simple. This year, the Spaniard continued his hot streak by winning a slough of the world’s most competitive kayak races including the North Fork Championship IV (2nd year in a row), Adidas Sickline, and Little White Salmon (2nd year in a row). Outside of competition, Gerd explored whitewater in Siberia and joined his Adidas teammates for an ambitious expedition to the Sary-Jaz River in the Tian Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan.
Jîrî Prskavec Age: 23 | Czech Republic
Known For:Reigning K1 men’s slalom world champion. This Year:Jîrî won gold at the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in the K1 men’s division and, in doing so, qualified to compete at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, following in the footsteps of his father (also named Jîrî). Jîrî spent part of his winter in Rio, training on the newly built Olympic course and is one of the favorites to win a medal. What’s Next?:Slalom World Cup events, 2016 Olympics in Rio
Michal Smolen Age: 22 | Gastonia, NC Known For:Team USA’s top K1 slalom paddler Known For:Call him Luke Skywalker because he’s the “new hope” for USA Canoe and Kayak. Michal Smolen is heading to the Olympics straight off of winning a bronze medal at last year’s slalom world championship and gold at the 2015 Pan American Games. With these international podium finishes under his belt Smolen shows that he could be the USA’s best hope of winning an Olympic paddling medal for the first time since Rebecca Giddens won silver at the Athens Olympics in 2004. What’s Next:Representing the USA in Rio.
Mike Dawson Age: 29 | Tauranga, New Zealand Known For:An athlete who blurs the lines between extreme whitewater prowess and slalom precision. This Year:Mike Dawson (NZL) is heading to the Rio Olympics as one of the best K1 slalom racers in the world, but he isn’t content to focus solely on the Olympic discipline. He’s also an extreme racer and whitewater connoisseur. Dawson raced to 1st place in the Brandseth Downhill at Extreme Sport Week in Norway before heading south to explore crocodile infested class V+ rivers in Angola. Dawson pushed the slalom discipline by taking a helicopter trip to New Zealand’s Southern Alps, running remote whitewater with his fragile carbon/composite slalom kayak. What’s Next?:Competing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Buy his international cookbook to contribute to his Olympic dream.
Pat Keller Age: 30 | Asheville, NC Known For:Racing fast, firing off first descents, and pushing the limits of waterfall freestyle— all while holding down a day job as a designer and sales guy at Liquidlogic Kayaks, where he designs the boats that power his free-ride style. This Year: Pat brought his unique racing style to China’s Yangtzee river, where he won the Red Bull Kayak Mania Race. Back stateside, he competed in the Spirit Falls Freestyle, where he threw one of the most impressive and innovative waterfall freestyle tricks to date: a reverse kick flip off of 35-foot falls. Pat’s imagination—on the water and inside of the R&D room—is at the center of innovation within the sport of whitewater.
Rush Sturges Age: 31 | White Salmon, WA Known For:Paddling, and capturing on film, some of the most challenging whitewater ever run. This Year:Despite spending the past several years on a hectic shooting schedule as one of paddling’s foremost filmmakers, Rush is still inspiring paddlers with his on-water prowess in extreme racing, freestyle, and expedition paddling. Based in the Pacific Northwest, Rush consistently pushes the limits of new style on the Little White Salmon River. What’s Next:Sturges is working on the release of his next documentary film, Chasing Niagara.
Geoff Calhoun Age: 29 | Bethesda, MD Known For:Podium stalwart for the East Coast’s biggest races This Year: When it comes down to cranking hard forward strokes and lacing smooth lines, no one does it quite like Calhoun. The Washington, D.C., native is a threat at every major kayak race. His major achievement this year: winning the overall title for the King of New York race series.
Isaac Levinson Age: 25 | Atlanta, Georgia Known For:Southeast native turned PNW local. Consistently paddles fast and smooth in chaotic Class V races, especially in a longboat. This Year: It was a big year for Levinson. In addition to recovering from a broken back, Levinson won his second title as Green Race Champion and took home gold at the 2014 GoPro Steep Creek Championship on Homestake Creek, Colo. Rad footage from Levinson’s trip to Mexico shows that an elite slalom background doesn’t just help with creek racing- it’s always a sure fire way to lay down enviable lines on waterfalls over 60 feet.
Joe Morley Age: 25 | Nottingham,UK Known For:Dominating technically challenging extreme races with smooth slalom style. This Year: The Adidas Sickline in the idyllic mountain valley of Oetz, Austria, is one of the most competitive races in the world. Many of the world’s top pros fail even to qualify for the event. After Sam Sutton won the race three times in a row, many paddlers began to wonder if another champion could ever dethrone the Kiwi on the Wellerbrucke rapids. Great Britain’s Joe Morley rose to the challenge and won the event back to back in 2013 and 2014. It’s safe to say that Joe is consistently one of the fastest whitewater paddlers on the planet.
Jules Domine Age: 24 | Grenoble, France Known For:Making high-volume river expeditions look easy all over the world, exploring the deep wilderness rivers of Medellin, Colombia. This Year: Jules won one of the most difficult and dangerous races in whitewater: the third North Fork Championship. In addition to his usual rampage of exploratory paddling in Colombia, Jules also notched a complete descent of the Stikine by running Site Zed. What’s Next: Jules is excited to do more exploration in northern British Columbia and Alaska, with one mission combining big mountain skiing with expedition kayaking. He also plans to return to Colombia in search of more unexplored whitewater.