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Kayakers come from 17 countries
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There were 127 competitors from 17 countries and six continents who rode the rapids at Rock Island State Park over the weekend for the World Cup Freestyle Kayaking Championships.Competitors traveled from Europe, Asian, and Central America, among other places, to participate in the three-day event. Rock Island residents Clay Wright, Emily Jackson, Nick Troutman, Dane Jackson and Eric Jackson were among the competitors – with Emily Jackson winning the women’s K1 finals.The story was as much about the international flavor at Rock Island State Park as it was the competition.“We had visitors and spectators from around the world,” said Rock Island State Park manager Damon Graham. “We received many comments about how beautiful the scenery is and how nice the local people are around here.”Visitors swarmed to nearby businesses, which were buzzing with activity.“Rock Island Market became an international who’s who of freestyle kayaking, with multiple languages being spoken at the same time in the dining room,” said Eric Jackson, the president of Jackson Kayak in Sparta.

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