Sure, Austria’s known for Vienna sausages, dancing ponies, and The Sound of Music, but what’s kept it on the global kayaking radar is the fall’s Adidas Sickline Extreme Kayak World Championship. Europe’s premiere creek racing competition, held Oct. 1-2, on the technical Wellerbrueke section of the Oetz River, drew more than 150 competitors from around the world to race in a head-to-head bracketed format. C&K caught up with 22-year-old Ontario native Nick Troutman, the top North American finisher (eighth overall), to see how his race went and what’s happening next. New Zealand’s Sam Sutton took the overall win, followed by Italy’s Michele Ramazza in second and German Lukas Kalkbrenner rounding out the podium. Top U.S. finisher, Rusty Sage, took 38th overall (of 132 competitors), advancing to the round of 48. – Sean Klinger
Canoe & Kayak: How’d your race go?
Nick Troutman: It went really well for my first time being there. Luckily I got to train with [experienced slalom-bred, Kiwi creek racers] Sam Sutton and Mike Dawson, who gave me some feedback and different techniques.
Sickline is a bit shorter than other creek races, with paddlers finishing their runs in about a minute. Did that make it any easier?
You could snowball sections easily. If one landing was off, then it would mess you up for the next section, and that would mess you up for the next.
The head-to-head format sounded cool, with boaters paired together and the fastest time advancing. So you made it through to the semifinal round of 26?
I asked who [German paddler Fabian Dorfler] was, and they were like ‘Umm, that’s, like, the slalom world champion. Good luck with that.’ I assumed that he was going to win, so when I got to the bottom, I saw the two times posted and figured mine was the slowest. But then he was like ‘Good job, you won.’ I was totally shocked.
So then the final 15 paddlers each had a “superfinal” run, with the fastest paddler taking the title belt. What happened with yours?
It was the last run, so it was all or nothing. I knew the fastest line was in the center, which I was avoiding on my earlier runs because of some tricky spots. But this time I went straight down the middle and I made it through clean. But, on the last drop, I was a split-second too late on my boof, and I lost all of my momentum.
Photo: Manuel Arnu
The last time you were in Europe you earned the men’s K-1 ICF World Freestyle title, at the championships last year in Thun, Switzerland. What do you think of the competition across the pond?
It’s cool to meet so many new people and to see how many really good kayakers there are. As soon as we finished the race, we were off to Oktoberfest.
2010 has been a big year for you. In April, you tied the knot with Emily Jackson [daughter of Jackson Kayak founder Eric ‘E.J.’ Jackson and a freestyle world champion herself]. Now competing with your father-in-law on the world freestyle stage, what was it like to face off with him the first time?
I didn’t really think about it until someone said, ‘You’re going to let him win, right? You can’t beat your girlfriend’s dad!’ It was in the back of my head, but E.J. won anyway. He beat me, straight up. He jokes now that I can borrow the (world freestyle champion) title for two years, then he’ll take it back.”
So what’s next?
After Sickline, I really want to do more races. I’ll always focus on freestyle, because that’s my passion, but I’m trying to do a little bit of everything.
– Check out the highlights from this year’s Adidas Sickline Extreme Kayak World Championship:
– Want to see more on the Jackson Kayak? Check out this slick, recent release from Michael Brown’s Water Over the Dam: