By Dave Shively
From his unmistakeable RV on the banks of Utah's Green River, getting ready for yet another freestyle competition, Eric Jackson just received word that his son Dane had just won the progressive six-stage Whitewater Grand Prix event in Quebec.
"Pretty cool that in a competition that's set up in a way to separate the men from the boys, that a 17-year-old won it," E.J. said.
Meanwhile, E.J., and his daughter Emily, had just flown back to the family RV from the Dominion Riverrock festival events, May 13-14 in Richmond, Va., with both father and daughter competing in—and winning—the 30-foot ramp and boatercross events.
"It was three rides, best one counts," E.J. said of the ramp contest. "I've gotten really good backflipping on seal launches, but I couldn't time it on the ramp. The first two runs I destroyed myself—hit my head, wearing a GoPro on my helmet, and just knocked myself silly. On the third, the winning run was a really good air screw, so I pulled around a little more to wave to the crowd."
Though Tao Berman was credited for the Canal Crashers win by winning the event’s preliminary rounds, the Saturday finals event was canceled due to weather, prompting competitors to determine their own big air champ the next day, with E.J.’s air-screw wave taking top honors, and Emily winning on the women’s side. Both father and daughter also finished atop their respective divisions in the boatercross event.
"The whole event was fun, a ton of people there," E.J. said. "We also did a big boat demo with Appomattox River Company. There was literally a 35-minute line up the ramp of people demoing boats."
While making the rounds at "events every weekend since March," E.J. is still intently focused on one goal: a fifth world title at the ICF Freestyle World Championships, June 20-26, in Plattling, Germany.
"It's got my full attention—all my efforts leading to worlds, got composite rock star as well as poly (water levels are low) so it's 50-50 which I'll use," explains E.J., 47, citing his training trip to Uganda this winter, where he began focusing on tracking the point values of his tricks and dialing in his 45-second routine accordingly to break 1,000 points per ride and then maximize his overall score. "It's not guess work, know you can score and get your worlds routine … as I get better combos—the training is broken down to get bigger, better, faster."
And after flying back west for the Green River Expedition Rodeo, would you expect lesser results? Yep, all Jacksons made the podium—E.J. behind son-in-law Nick Troutman in second, and JK teammate Stephen Wright in first; Emily winning the pro women and Dane winning the junior men’s division (SEE MORE PICS HERE). Next stop? CKS Paddlefest in Buena Vista, Colo., followed by the Paddling Life Invitational at the Yampa River Festival in Steamboat Springs, Colo. If the cold conditions in northern Colorado (read the NY Times coverage here) turn, E.J. will need put his Uganda-sized training efforts to the task to keep the wins rolling.
RICHMOND, VA (May 15, 2011) – The 3rd annual Dominion Riverrock festival, the East Coast's premier outdoor sports and river life festival, concluded this morning after drawing a record 3,500+ participants and more than 25,000 spectators to Brown’s Island in Richmond, VA, for the weekend's festivities. After inclement weather caused Saturday evening's events to be postponed, the two-day festival expanded into a third day in order to wrap-up the remainder of the sporting events. Dominion Riverrock is one of the largest outdoor sports festivals in the United States.
As expected, the Red Bull Canal Crashers was a crowd-favorite as kayakers rode down a 30-foot ramp and were thrown into the air to show off their best trick before landing in the canal. In attendance were extreme kayaker and Red Bull athlete, Tao Berman, as well as 3-time world kayak freestyle champion Eric Jackson and his daughter Emily. The final round of Red Bull Canal Crashers was canceled due to inclement weather, so scoring was based on results from preliminary rounds. Berman took home the $1,000 cash prize for the Red Bull Canal Crashers as he had the highest score going into the final.
Also part of Dominion Riverrock this year was the Sperry Top-Sider Kayak Boatercross, which was held adjacent to Brown’s Island in the James River. Heats of four kayaks raced 200 yards while weaving around buoys to get to the finish line. Eric Jackson captured first place in the Men's division and Emily Jackson took home the title on the Women's side.
"There were a lot of good boaters out there," said Jackson. "Boatercross is an 'anything can happen' event. I definitely didn't think I had it in the bag until I crossed the finish line in first place."
Red Bull Canal Crashers
1. Tao Berman, $1,000
2. Patrick Griffin, $500
3. Max Posner, $250
Sperry Top-Sider Kayak Boatercross
1. Eric Jackson, $250
2. Patrick Griffin, $150
3. John Nestler, $100
1. Emily Jackson, $250
2. Meghan Magennis, $150
3. Erin Johnson, $100
New to Dominion Riverrock in 2011 were two Standup Paddleboard events – SUP Cross and SUP Enduro. Just like the kayak boatercross event, the SUP Cross took place right in the James River adjacent to Brown's Island and headed down the VEPCO Levy rapids. Heats of four SUPs raced head to head down the rapids.
SUP Enduro was a 4.5km (2.7 miles) endurance race in the Haxall Canal. One loop around the canal is 1.5km, so each participant was required to make three loops to complete the course.
1. Doug Ellis, Jr., $250
2. Craig Stephens, $150
3. Greg Lew, $100
1. Camille Smith, $250
2. Cherie Rinkenberg, $150
3. Amanda Des Roches, $100
"This is first urban setting I've ever raced in," said SUP Cross winner Doug Ellis of Virginia Beach. VA, who has been participating in the sport for about a year and a half. "It was really fun to be enclosed like that. It's totally different than what I'm used to."
Jody Des Roches
Red Bull Canal Crashers, the Sperry Top-Sider Kayak Boatercross and both the SUP Enduro and SUP Cross will return to Dominion Riverrock on May 18-19, 2012.