Dane Jackson wins Tincup Steep Creek Championship
Three-time world champion looks smooth as Argentinian Valentin Gutierrez places second
Dane Jackson took the Tincup Steep Creek Championship title on Wednesday morning in Red Cliff, making Homestake Creek’s class V rapids — which drop 480 feet per mile — look easy.
“Today worked out well again,” he told reporters gathered at the finish. “Regardless of how it would have come out, I’m just stoked to be here racing again. I love this race course, whether it’s high or low water. It just wasn’t the same not having it last year, so to get to come out and race these guys again was a lot of fun.”
One of those guys was Valentin Gutierrez, who made things interesting in the winner-takes-all final.
While Jackson owned two of the three sub-2:00 minute qualifying runs and entered the finals with a dominant cumulative time of 3:53 — almost nine seconds better than Frank Riley — Gutierrez was superb in his own third and final dash, laying down a 1:59.
The 25-year-old, who won the downriver sprint at the GoPro Mountain Games in 2019 and 2021, was smooth across the top section and used a sweep stroke to hold his boat into the deepwater rapids past “the birdbath” feature. He took a right angle into the “leap of faith,” exciting the downriver public address announcer whose voice cracked as he exclaimed, “Beautiful run from our Argentinian!”
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Troutman went next. The Beachburg, Ontario, native and Ottawa River expert bounced backwards at the birdbath feature midstream on his first qualifying run, pulling a nifty 360 before taking a hit on “little sunshine” near the end. His second run was better, and he appeared to be improving throughout the day. On the final, he raced to a respectable 2:05, good for fifth place.
“Runs were good; they were kind of bobbling a bit, but they kept getting smoother throughout the day,” Troutman, Jackson’s brother-in-law, said.
“Still some room for improvement obviously, but you know every day you finish this race upright and smiling, it’s a good day,” he added, noting that the waters were actually lowering all day, exposing the sharp rocks notorious to rocky mountain streams.
Unlike southeastern rivers, where athletes can slide over boulders, every snag at Homestake meant seconds added. As the day wore on, it was evident that the winner would be the one who found the cleanest line and remained in the deepest, fastest-moving current.
Alberto Diez, who came to Colorado on a climbing trip, heard about the Mountain Games, and signed up, slithered in front of Troutman with a 2:04.
Twenty-year-old Riley Frank was aggressive in his final run, greasing the top of the course before taking a hit on “sunshine rock.” He paddled ferociously to regain his line, but costly mistakes on the lower section of the course — where it seemed every fate was decided — resulted in a 2:03.29 third-place finish.
That brought Jackson, who, as announcer Clay Wright accurately observed, “is the man to beat!” after he smoked two qualifying runs while appearing to be holding back ever so slightly.
The three-time ICF World Freestyle Kayaking champion’s calculated strokes on the final brought him through the “goal posts” and set him up for a perfectly timed boof stroke — when a kayaker plans his push right over the lip of a drop so as to keep his bow as vertical as possible — over the sunshine drop. The maneuver provided maximal acceleration out of the fall, rocketing the heir to the Jackson Kayak empire toward the river’s final features. He zipped around “snaggle tooth” and took a fast line through “serial killer,” finishing in 1:57.46.
“It’s always especially fun when I get the opportunity to come out on top,” Jackson, said.
“So, it was a great day as always.”
- Dane Jackson – 1:57
- Valentin Gutierrez – 1:59
- Riley Frank – 2:03
- Alberto Diez – 2:04
- Nick Troutman – 2:05
- Matt Anger – 2:10
- Jacob McConnel – 2:12
- Corey Sheehan – 2:13
- Spencer Huff – 2:14