Dolle predicts history will be made in Argentina

Teenager Tom Dolle is predicting history will be made at this year’s ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships in Argentina, and he’s hoping he’ll be the one that does it.

Dolle believes for the first time in an international competition an athlete will break the magical 2000 points barrier. It will take something out of the box, and the 17-year-old Frenchman has been working on a couple of moves that might put him in range.

“I've tried the wood tricky in practice,” Dolle revealed.

"The ‘Woo tricky’ or ‘back tricky woo’ is a new trick, it is scored as a trophy move. I've never tried it in competition but it is going to be in my comp ride for Worlds in Argentina for sure.” 

Welcome to the world of canoe freestyle, a discipline made up of bizarrely-named but absolutely breathtaking trick moves performed in a variety of different boats in a race against the clock.

Argentina will be Dolle’s first World Championships, and just his third major international competition.

Many of the world’s best freestylers were in San Juan last year for the World Cup, including Dolle.

“I'm really excited for the worlds in Argentina,” Dolle said.

“I've been on this hole last fall for the World Cups and I really liked it. It's a pretty easy spot so the scores should be tight this year.

“I think someone is going to break the 2000pts score ride in Argentina and maybe 2500 in the next five years. Some people have done more than 2000pts, but never during an international competition.”

The sport of canoe freestlye can thank Tom Dolle’s dad for the introduction of his son to the discipline. Dad had a kayak store in Lyon, France, and used to organise ‘demo-days’ to give locals a chance to try their hand at the sport.

When Tom was nine it was time for him to give it a go. Not surprisingly, he was a natural.

“I tried one and I loved it, so he ordered me a fun one which is the smallest freestyle boat on the market and I started kayaking every weekend with my dad,” Dolle said. 

“Then three weeks after I started kayaking, I paddled with Nick Troutman and Emily Jackson after their trip in Switzerland where they both won the World Championships.

“That really motivated me to kayak as much as I can and be as good as them.”

Eight years on, and Dolle is one of the up-and-coming young paddlers the canoe freestyle world is watching closely. He’s still developing his arsenal of tricks, but most importantly he is feeling at home taking on the big guns. 

“When I'm on the water, it's like my home,” he said.

“You don't think about anything, just about what trick you are going to do or what rapid/waterfall you are going to run and It's just amazing. 

“The toughest move I've tried is the pistol flip at Ruins. A pistol flip starts backwards and you have to take a pretty big bounce, do a 180 followed by a front flip.

“At Ruins, the water goes really fast and it hurts if you land upside down.”

Ruins is a huge wave that only the best freestyle kayaker a take on. 

Dolle is excited about the future of his sport. There are plenty of challenges for a sport that is still not considered mainstream, but the momentum is building.

“Freestyle kayaking has been growing up really fast for the past 25 years and is still going to grow up for the next 10 years,” Dolle said.

“The boats are going to be better and easier. The rides are going to be more consistent and the scores higher.

“Hopefully we will have more young and talented people that will keep the freestyle kayaking level up in the next five years.” 

Expect the latest batch of young and talented people to be unearthed in San Juan, Argentina, November 27 – December 2 this year.

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