Dane Jackson defends steep creek title
RED CLIFF — Dane Jackson said he opted for a slower run with less mistakes in the finals at Thursday’s Steep Creek Championship.
For a minute and a half or so, it looked like it wasn’t going to pay off.
Gerd Serrasolses, of Spain, was lightning fast on the run, ahead of Jackson by 3 seconds heading into the rapid called “Baby Sunshine” on the final section. But a small mistake there cost him the lead.
“It was basically the last move of the race,” said Brendan Wells, who finished eighth. “Gerd has been crushing every race he’s been in so he was expected to finish well.”
Serrasolses’ finishing time was 0.31 seconds slower than Jackson’s.
“I’m pretty disappointed,” he said. “But second place is still better than nothing.”
Jackson said he enjoyed watching Serrasolses’ run.
“He looked super fast and super tight,” Jackson said after the race. “This is one of those races where the field isn’t that separated.”
Dane Jackson is the son of Eric Jackson, an Olympian kayaker who has been competing professionally for more than 30 years. On Thursday evening, the father/son duo competed against each other in the freestyle kayak qualifiers on Gore Creek, which was held one day earlier than usual this year on Thursday, the same day as the Steep Creek Challenge. That made it a long day of boating for young Dane Jackson, who started competing at 10 a.m. on Homestake Creek near Red Cliff and finished the day at the twilight hour on Gore Creek as the men went late into the evening.
“Endurance is one of my favorite things ever,” Jackson said after the Steep Creek Championship in Red Cliff. “I kind of like it when you’re done with the creek race, you’re worn out, you go do a nice afternoon of training for the freestyle, but you have to race anyway today so you may as well be up and ready to go.”
By pushing the freestyle a day earlier, the Mountain Games were able to work in a new event for this year, the Ultimate River Challenge, where competitors will compete in back-to-back-to-back events — the Down River Kayak Sprint, Down River SUP Sprint and Down River R2 Raft Sprint — Saturday on Gore Creek. Dane Jackson intends to compete in the Ultimate River Challenge with his brother in law and the fourth-place finisher from Thursday’s Steep Creek, Nicholas Troutman.
“It’s a pretty packed weekend,” Troutman said. “It forces you to stay on your game and try not to get too worn out. It’s tough; the elevation is a little hard and you just gotta keep going.”
JACKSON FAMILY VACATION
Dane Jackson said he thinks the whole weekend is going to be incredible. He’s here with the Jackson family, including his sister and Troutman’s wife, Emily Jackson, who qualified second in the kayak freestyle Thursday.
The Jackson family has been competing in the Mountain Games throughout its existence. Every spring, the get a few RVs and Sprinter Vans on the road and head out to Colorado for several competitions. Last year, it was three generations of Jacksons — Eric; his wife Kristine and their 6-year-old daughter; Nicholas Troutman, Emily Jackson and their son — all in Eric Jackson’s RV.
“This event is kind of a keystone event for us in the spring, we do what we call the ‘Colorado Tour.’ We have four or five events here in Colorado over a five-week period, but this is always the biggest and most fun for us.”
Jackson competed in his first freestyle kayak competition in 1983. At 51 years old, he’s still going hard.
“It’s really a matter of training,” he said after performing a respectable run at Thursday’s qualifiers. “I’ve got a lot of different things going on so I don’t get quite as much time to train as some of the guys, so I have to make sure to not slack off too much. But doing a variety of things is awesome.”
Jackson is also the founder and owner of Jackson Kayaks, among the most recognizable names in the business. He’s still designing boats to this day, as well as running the business and competing as an angler in the Pro Bass Tour.
“It’s just too much fun to stop,” he said.
Watch the Jacksons compete on Gore Creek under the International Bridge all weekend at the GoPro Mountain Games.