News from Zuzana Vanha in Bryson City, NC  – The 2012 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Cup came to a spectacular conclusion on Sunday afternoon with down-to-the-wire victories in both the men’s and women’s K1 classes. Peter Csonka, SVK, Dane Jackson, USA, (pictured) and Jason Craig, USA, the medalists in the men’s class, all traded positions several times as they battled for the gold. Jackson delighted the crowd with his final run, posting a score of 1316, and moving into first place. Only minutes later, Csonka, who was seeded last after his victory in the Quarter Final, responded with an unprecedented result of 1538, possibly the highest-scoring freestyle ride to be recorded in ICF competition to date. Csonka’s ride was greeted with gasps and cheers from the crowd, who were able to follow the competition more closely than ever before, thanks to the introduction of the new digital scoring system, which was debuted at the 2012 Freestyle World Cup series.

But the men’s class was not the only one to amaze the crowd with neck-and-neck rides. In the K1 Women’s final, Nina Csonkova, SVK, Emily Jackson, USA, and Claire O’Hara, USA, pushed the limit with each consecutive ride. Then, with her final ride, Canadian Ruth Gordon-Ebens posted an incredible 495, catapulting herself temporarily into first place, and knocking Csonkova out of the medals. Jackson fought hard to come back, but fell just short with a final score of 430. Great Britain’s Claire O’Hara, however, was able to rise to the challenge, and in the final women’s ride of the day, posted a score of 633, the highest scoring women’s ride from the 2012 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Cup Series.

O’Hara’s two first place medals were not enough to make her the K1 women’s World Cup champion in 2012. This distinction went to Emily Jackson, who was the women’s champion in Rock Island, TN, and finished in the medals at all three events, rewarding her consistency as well as her success at the individual events.  Csonka’s three consecutive wins sealed his victory of the 2012 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Cup Series.

In the K1 Women’s Junior class, Nuria Fontane Maso of Spain will return home bearing the title of World Cup Champion, while Rowan Stuart, a young paddler from Stecoah, North Carolina, who finished third overall, will stay here to train for next year’s World Championship. Athletes from around the world are expected to return to Western North Carolina beginning next spring and summer to prepare for the 2013 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships, the biggest event in canoe freestyle, which takes place only once in two years. For results, news, photographs, and video footage of this year’s World Cup, as well as information about next year’s World Championships, visit: http://www.freestylekayaking2013.com.