Sutton settles for Sickline silver

Rotorua extreme kayaker Sam Sutton on his way to second at the adidas Sickline world championships. Photo by Jens Klatt/adidas Sickline

Rotorua kayaker Sam Sutton has come within millimetres of winning his fourth world championship, at the adidas Sickline Extreme titles in Austria overnight.
The 28-year-old, winner of the event from 2010-2012, finished second behind Spain’s Aniol Serrasolses in the event, which pitted 175 athletes from 29 nations against the legendary Wellerbrücke rapids in Austria’s Ötztal valley.
Serrasolses, whose brother Gerd won the title last year, clocked 1min 1.70secs early in the top-16 final and watched as a procession of world-class paddlers failed to improve down the 280m course packed with grade five rapids.
Sutton had a near-faultless run, despite the low water levels, but could only manage 1:01.71, missing a fourth crown by a solitary hundredth of a second. It was the closest finish in the nine year-history of the event.
“I’m so stoked for Aniol – he’s one of the coolest dudes and probably one of the craziest kayakers out there,” Sutton said. “It’s really cool that the Serrasolses brothers have both claimed the title now, that’s something that my brother Jamie and I haven’t been able to achieve yet.”
Jamie Sutton, bronze medalist in 2014, was one of a handful of top extreme kayakers who didn’t even make the final, along with two-time champion Joe Morley (Great Britain), 2014 Green Race Champion Isaac Levinson (United States) and 2009 Freestyle world champion Nick Troutman (Canada).
Serrasolses, 25, couldn’t believe he’d held off Sutton’s hard charge.
“I don’t know what to say, if this is destiny or just that I am a really lucky guy. I have always been very lucky in my life and this was another lucky moment because Sam has been killing it throughout this whole event and he should have won, but I got luckier today and I can just be grateful for that,” Serrasolses said.
Great Britain’s Sandra Hyslop won the women’s title from France’s 2013-14 champion Nouria Newman, with Martina Wegman (Netherlands) third.
Despite Newman clocking the fastest time in the semifinals, she couldn’t repeat that effort in the final, with Hyslop recording 1.08.82 to take her first title by 0.46secs.
Many of the top paddlers in the field are heading to New Zealand next month for the inaugural WhitewaterXL, which makes its debut on the new Vector Wero Whitewater Park from November 20-27 in Auckland.
Sutton and Newman are ambassadors for the event, alongside New Zealand’s canoe slalom Olympians Mike Dawson and Luuka Jones, which will pit the world’s best slalom and extreme paddlers against each other in a series of races.
Wegman is also confirmed to race, while 2008 Olympic champion Alexander Grimm (Germany) and rising Italian star Zeno Ivaldi also made the Sickline finals as preparation for the New Zealand event.

Photo by Jens Klatt/adidas Sickline

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