13 GB Freestyle paddlers were in action on day 4 of the 2022 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships, presented by Direct Business Solutions.
With semi-final places up for grabs at Holme Pierrepont Country Park in Nottingham, seven of the GB Freestyle team progressed to the next round.
Fresh from her gold medal in the women’s squirt, Ottilie Robinson-Shaw led the way with a record-breaking performance in the women’s kayak quarter finals.
With a luna loop and phonics monkey cleanly delivered, Ottie scored a whopping 1003.33 points in her first run.
With the two best runs of three counting, Ottie smashed another record in her second run, scoring an incredible 1186.67 to qualify for the semi-finals in first place with a score of 2190.00.
Just behind in second place was Lowri Davies, with the Welsh paddler delivering a trademark lunar orbit to score 710.00 and 665.00 in runs 1 and 2 to comfortably qualify for the semi-finals.
Emma Witherford made it a trio of British paddlers into the semis, with a great performance to score 1076.66 thanks to 603.33 and 473,33 points in runs 1 and 2.
Heidi Walsh and Jen Leal - taking part in her first senior Worlds, both missed out on the top ten however, finishing in 12th and 14th place despite some impressive displays on their home feature.
There was an absorbing round of men’s kayak quarter finals, with junior European Champion Toby Marlow putting in an incredible performance to qualify for the semi-finals on his senior Worlds debut.
Toby comfortably won heat 2 with a dazzling score of 2573.33 thanks to his first two runs that both scored over 1000 points in order to qualify for Friday’s semi-finals in fifth place.
Joining Toby in the semi-finals are Rob Crowe and Harry Price
Rob carried on his strong early form in the competition, with a first run of 1188.33 followed by an incredible 1540.00 points in his second run, including a spectacular space jam.
Harry went toe-to-toe with World Championship Dane Jackson in the third quarter-final, recording first and second run scores of 1020.00 and 1360.00 to qualify in sixth place.
It was not to be for Gav Barker and James Bebbington, who put down some fine moves in their runs, but some costly flushes lost valuable time and both missed out, finishing 11th and 15th place.
The morning session started with the junior men’s kayak preliminaries, with Timmy Hill the first paddler out on the water. With space godzillas, loops and McNasty’s all on show, Timmy recorded rides of 438.33 and 233.33 for an opening score of 671.66 and 19th place.
Nottingham’s Ben Higson was next up and looked comfortable on home water, landing a McNasty in his entry into the feature and delivering an impressive first run, scoring 985.000
Ben, who finished 21st in his first World Championships in 2019, scored an incredible 1170.00 on his second run to qualify for the semi-finals in second place with a score of 2155.00.
Speaking after his two runs Ben Higson said:
“I'm really happy, I think it was my highest ever run I've done in competition, so I'm really proud of it. My main highlight of the ride was my entry move, I did an entry two, into a McNasty which gets like 260 points in the first few seconds, so it really starts off well.
“On my second ride I went for a Loop Tricky, it's one of the highest scoring moves you could possibly do.
“It's really exciting, especially when my family can come watch, and you can get that when you're competing all over, so it's really special with family and friends.
“I'm really looking forward to the rest of the competition. My next stage is tomorrow, in the semi-finals, so I'm hoping for the finals then. I'm currently in second and I reckon I can keep that up and I will have a good chance at getting in the finals tomorrow.
“If you put me against the men's category I would've been in sixth, so I'm really happy with that. I've been trying to compete with the seniors for the past two years, so it feels really good.”
The third GB junior freestyler in the preliminaries was James Ward who started with 400.00 points in his first run, improving to 430.00 in round 2. But despite two great runs James just missed out on the semi-finals finishing outside the top ten in 12th place.
The semi-finals for the men’s, women’s and junior men’s kayak events take place on Friday 1 July.
In the final event of the day, Philip Josef from Germany was crowned World Champion in the Open Canoe Surface final, with Zachary Zwanenburg from Canada taking the silver medal and Adria Bosch Roca from Spain bronze.
Junior Men’s Kayak preliminaries
Ben Higson - 2nd and progresses to semi-finals
James Ward - 12th
Timmy Hill - 16th
Women’s Kayak quarter-finals
Ottilie Robinson-Shaw - 1st and progresses to semi-finals
Lowri Davies - 2nd and progresses to semi-finals
Emma Witherford - 5th and progresses to semi-finals
Heidi Walsh - 12th
Jen Leal - 14th
Men’s Kayak quarter-finals
Rob Crowe - 2nd and progresses to semi-finals
Toby Marlow - 5th and progresses to semi-finals
Harry Price - 6th and progresses to semi-finals
Gavin Barker - 11th
James Bebbington - 15th