Welcome back to Extreme Exposure, a weekly column bringing you the best photography and news from the world of action and outdoor sports. This week Bethany Hamilton gets a Swatch Pro invite while Dane Jackson and Rachel Atherton solidify their respective legacies.
Any lingering doubt about whether Dane Jackson is the best whitewater kayaker on the planet was erased when he won his second consecutive World Freestyle Championship on the Ottawa River in Ontario, Canada on Saturday. Staged on a rowdy wave known as Garburator, Jackson ran away with the K1 title. But the 22-year-old from Tennessee, who comes from whitewater royalty (his sister and father are both former world champions), also re-established himself in some of paddling’s more obscure disciplines, winning his second world title in C1 (a kayak paddled with a single blade from the knees) and silver in the OC1 (using an actual open canoe).
Jackson isn’t just a freestyle paddler. His down river racing resume is nearly as impressive. He won the Homestake Creek Race at the GoPro Mountain Games earlier this year and is a fixture in the Top 5 of any extreme race he enters. But mostly, the kid simply enjoys paddling. “I just like doing any (event), no matter what the outcome,” he tells SI.com.
The Gangs All Here
This week, the surfing world descends upon San Clemente, California for the Hurley Pro and the Swatch Women’s Pro at Lower Trestles with solid swell on tap thanks to multiple hurricanes that have churned up the Pacific Ocean. Coming off the tour’s heavy barrel-riding leg, Lowers is an entirely different animal as the surfer’s focus now returns to performance wave riding instead of trying to skillfully needle through death-defying tubes.
On the men’s side, the bottleneck at the top could come undone here. Six surfers including Adriano de Souza, Mick Fanning, Owen Wright, Julian Wilson, Filipe Toledo and Kelly Slater are within 6,000 points of each other and are still very much in the title hunt.
On the women’s side, Bethany Hamilton has dominated the pre-event news cycle as she was awarded a wildcard into the contest. Hamilton—who lost her arm during a shark attack in 2003—hasn’t competed in the new year following the birth of her son, Tobias. She finished third at the Women’s Pipe Invitational, a demonstration event during the Billabong Pipe Pro last December.
“We’ve been speaking to her since early last season about potentially accepting a wildcard to a Championship Tour event,” WSL women’s commissioner Jesse Miley-Dyer told the Los Angeles Times. “Scheduling hasn’t been in our favor until now and the WSL are very excited to see how she fares at one of the most high-performance waves on the planet.”
It won’t be easy. Hamilton, who’s always shown courage in heavy surf and has loads of contest experience, opens up with current world number one Courtney Conologue and Brazil’s Silvana Lima.
Champion of the World
Great Britain’s Rachel Atherton tightened her vice grip as the world’s best female downhill mountain biker this weekend in Andorra when she won her third World Title at the UCI Downhill World Championships in the Pyrenees (she also won world titles in 2008 and 2013).
The 27-year-old has had an epic year: she sealed up her fourth world cup title last month and as she told the BBC, that was the only thing on her mind this season: “I wanted both titles back this year. And I'm pretty stoked."
Summer’s Last Stand
There’s definitely something in the air, and we’re not sure if it’s El Niño or a Nor’easter. But this photo from Cody Haskell couldn’t summarize the season any better. Danny Walton enjoys a paddle with his dog, Nesta, near Stanley, Idaho with a fresh blanket of snow decorating the Sawtooth Mountains behind him. Here’s hoping you took full advantage of your Labor Day weekend.