(Makenzie Sousley and Savannah Jones receiving the Silver medal at the Pan Am Championships. Credit: Joel Guay)
In the first season since the retirement of three-time Olympian Carrie Johnson, the battle for women’s kayak supremacy was wide open. Among a host of Oklahoma City-based paddlers, Kaitlyn McElroy (Oklahoma City, Okla.) emerged as a potent threat in both kayak singles and doubles.
McElroy began the season by winning the K1 200m, K1 500m and K2 500m events at the National Team Trials in Oklahoma City. She would go on to win a Silver and Bronze medal in K2 1000m with her partner Maggie Hogan (Oklahoma City, Okla.) on the World Cup circuit. The duo placed as high as 11th in the Olympic distance 500-meter event at a World Cup. At the World Championships in Duisburg, Germany, the duo finished 14th in the K2 500m and 15th in K2 200m.
“In the K2, we had a few ups and downs this season.” McElroy said. “Overall though, Maggie and I work very well together, each bringing something completely different to the boat. I think next year our goal is to increase our max speed since we have a good running speed in the boat, which has served us well in the 1000m. At that distance we have managed to podium at every World Cup we have ever raced as a team! I am really looking forward to next season because I finally feel I am putting all the pieces together both on and off the water, which will lead to better performances in both the K1 and the K2.”
Year In Review: ParaCanoe
Year In Review: Whitewater Slalom
Year In Review: Paddlesports
Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club canoeists Ian Ross (Washington, D.C.), Rob Finlayson (Gainesville, Ga.) and Ben Hefner (Gainesville, Ga.) maintained their dominance in U.S. men’s senior canoe. Ross placed 8th in Under-23 C1 1000m at the Junior World Championships in Welland, Canada. Hefner placed 17th in U-23 C1 200m. Among senior paddlers, Finlayson finished 25th in C1 200m at the World Championships.
In men’s kayak, 2012 Olympian Tim Hornsby (Atlanta, Ga.) and Ryan Dolan (Kailua, Hawaii) continued to vie for the top spot in the 200-meter distance. Hornsby won the first round, besting Dolan at Team Trials. Hornsby’s season was highlighted by a 6th place finish at World Cup No. 3 in Poznan, Poland. The younger Dolan finished 11th in the U-23 World Championships. U-23 kayakers Chris Miller (Gainesville, Ga.) and Stanton Collins (Gainesville, Ga.) finish 13th in both K2 200m and 1000m.
Young American paddlers competed and excelled on a variety of international stages. At the Junior World Championships, Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Club teammates Makenzie Sousley and Savannah Jones finished 4th in women’s Junior C2 500m. Dylan Puckett (Jones, Okla.) and Istvan Urban (San Diego, Calif.) placed 13th in K2 200m.
Competing at the Olympic Hopes Regatta in Racice, Czech Republic, Urban and Jones would miss the podium by less than half a second in both the Junior K2 200m and 1000m. Sousley won Bronze in Junior C1 200m and Silver medals with Jones in Junior C2 200m and 500m at the Pan American Championships in Puerto Rico.
It was a plethora of young paddlers like Sousley, Jones, and kayakers Natalie Griffin and Alyson Morse that helped the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Club win its second consecutive National Championship team title. Griffin won two Golds and one Bronze medal in junior level races at Nationals. Morse won two Golds in Junior K1 200m and 500m at the Lake Placid International in Lake Placid, N.Y.
“The USA Junior, U23 and Senior Sprint teams had some great results, and have provided something to build on, moving forward into this next part of the Olympic cycle,” said U.S. High Performance Manager Michele Eray. “Our club programs continue to strengthen, with Gig Harbor carrying their momentum from 2012 and winning the Club title at the National Sprint Championships. Looking ahead to the 2020 Olympic Games, with the ICF proposing to add the Women’s Canoe event to the program, it is also exciting to note that Women's Canoe was added to the 2015 PanAm program. I am excited about the prospects this gives the USA, and women in paddling sports.”
Off the Water:
"I think it is amazing that women in canoe are finally receiving equality and being allowed to race in regattas,” Sousely said. “We have been working hard to be entered in as many races as possible and now we can go to the next level."
Headquartered in Oklahoma City, USA Canoe/Kayak is a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Canoe Federation. It governs the Olympic disciplines of Flatwater Sprint, Whitewater Slalom, the Paralympic discipline of Paracanoe and sanctions Freestyle, Marathon, Outrigger, Wildwater, Stand Up Paddle Board, Kayak Polo, Dragon Boat and Canoe Sailing in the United States. For more information about USA Canoe/Kayak, please visit us on the web at www.usack.org, on Twitter at @usacanoekayak and Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/USACanoeKayak.