Jackson fam dominates kayak rodeo
Eagle County correspondent
VAIL ” Like father, like daughter.
The Jackson family reigned supreme in Sunday’s Teva Mountain Games pro kayak rodeo finals on and under Gore Creek. Father, Eric, won the men’s division, while daughter, Emily, all of 15, topped the women’s field.
The two, along with younger brother, Dane, have competed together in rodeos often, but Sunday marked the first time the duo won on the same day.
“It’s the first time, so I’m happy,” said Emily, who posed with Dad at the top of the podium on International Bridge at the end of the day. “It’s super cool. It’s never happened before. I’m so excited.”
“Unbelievable. I’m very excited and impressed that my daughter won the women’s class,” Eric said. “I obviously was hoping to and have won before. I’m undefeated this year. Every time I go to a rodeo, I think ‘Oh, this could be my chance. Here’s a chance I can lose my winning streak.'”
Not on this day. Eric Jackson extended his rodeo winning streak to five events. In doing so, he and his daughter picked up $2,000 each for their troubles.
The Jackson double nearly didn’t happen. In the first round of the men’s finals, Jay Kincaid easily secured a spot in the finals with a superb run which scored an 86. Dustin Urban, the two-time defending champ in this event, put up 55 points, or so it was announced.
Urban, in fact, had posted a 63, but Jackson went out thinking he needed a 56.
“I went out with a conservative approach,” Jackson said. “I don’t paddle very well that way. I usually paddle better when I go out for a big ride. … I’m like a human calculator out there, so I knew I had him beat at 55 points, but I would never have cut it that close at 63.”
Jackson’s 64.5 points put him in a showdown with Kincaid in the finals, where he promptly dropped his conservative style for an all-out barrage in the hole on Gore Creek.
Jackson, the defending world champion in this discipline, linked together cartwheels, front loops, split wheels, a Super Godzilla and a back roll among other tricks before floating out of the hole toward a boulder for a rock spin and a pose against International Bridge for his finale. The ride was good for a competition-high 112 points.
“The water got lower and I watched Jay and Dustin in practice and people all week and the (moves) that I have are the big air loop and the Space Godzilla consistently,” Jackson said. “Being able to get aerial in the water is helpful. Having those moves was a big advantage. I would not want to want to have to compete there and not have a good air loop. I have the McNasty, but I wasn’t super consistent with it. I wasn’t going to pull it out unless I thought I needed it. I was watching Jay’s ride and I was pretty sure I would be better off going for style and my loop moves.”
The aforementioned McNasty proved decisive for Kincaid. As is his wont, he came out with a very technical game plan and executed it by and large. He had clean left and right cartwheels, a nice split and two front loops which he stuck.
As the 15-second buzzer went off, Kincaid was in the hole, poised for a big trick to cap his ride. He went for the McNasty, but came out of the hole, likely losing valuable points.
“I was really just one move short,” he said. “I missed the last move at the end of my ride and that was really the difference.”
Emily Jackson can’t drive a car. She does know how to pilot a kayak.
The 15 year old proved that, beating out Tanya Faux and Tanya Shuman in the women’s pro finals.
“It’s exciting to know just to know that age doesn’t matter that much and you can do it no matter how old you are,” she said. “It depends on skill. That’s really cool to know that age doesn’t matter that much.”
Not when you’re flipping front loops and Space Godzillas the way Jackson was doing on Sunday. Faux did edge out Jackson, 42.5-37.5, in the first round of the finals.
But, Jackson got the last laugh in the finals with an excellent link of loops with some good amplitude, a few cartwheels and a bridge-splash finale, just like Dad.
“It’s been a fun week,” she said. “It’s such a cool event because there’s so much publicity and a lot of media. It’s a lot more pressurizing, but still fun.”
Faux had a shot at Jackson, but couldn’t hold the hole on a back loop late in her ride.
“I didn’t feel quite as comfortable as I did yesterday,” Faux said. “I didn’t quite have the groove. Emily scored really well today. I think it’s hers for the taking. I congratulate her.”
And, after the race many kudos went out from the crowd to the Jacksons.
“It’s pretty cool, for sure,” Kincaid said. “They’re the Jackson family. There’s no other like them.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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