Australians top medal podiums at 2018 Canoe Slalom Australia Open with Olympians Jessica Fox winning the women’s C1 and Lucien Delfour the men’s K1
Australia’s women paddlers topped off a successful 2018 Canoe Slalom Australian Open with a clean sweep in the women’s C1 at Penrith Whitewater Stadium on Sunday, 18 February 2018. Olympic medallist Jessica Fox (NSW) topped the podium with sister Noemie Fox (NSW) joining her on the podium in second and Tasmanian teammate Kate Eckhardt completing the Australian trifecta in third.
Olympian Lucien Delfour (NSW) followed suit in the men’s K1 event winning convincingly in 89.79 and with a five second lead over of 2016 Olympic Bronze medallist and 2015 World Champion Jiri Prskavec (CZE) and 2014 World Champion Boris Neveu from France.
The win in the women’s C1, the event Fox holds three World Champion titles in (2013, 14, 15), followed her win in the K1 on Saturday (19 February) ahead of 2017 World Championships bronze medallist Ricarda Funk of Germany. Kate Eckhardt also made the K1 podium on Saturday finishing third.
In the women’s C1 five Australians made the top ten women’s final with Rosalyn Lawrence (NSW) and Alison Borrows (NSW) finishing seventh and eighth respectively.
It was a strong show of power of the Australian women’s slalom squad coached by French Olympic medallist Myriam Fox-Jerusalmi in a world-class field that included 2017 women’s C1 World Champion Mallory Franklin (Great Britain) as well as Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist in the K1 Luuka Jones from New Zealand, who finished ninth and tenth respectively.
Jessica Fox won the event with a clean run and in a time of 106.81 and 12.1 seconds ahead of sister Noemie Fox in second (118.91) and Kate Eckhard in third (119.81).
“My sister was in the lead as I was going so I knew I had to put down a good run and I’m happy with how it went. The event has been a great start to the year and to our selections,” Jess Fox said. “The results mean that I’m selected on to the team for the World Cup and the World Championships in both the C1 and the K1,” Fox explained the selection relevance of the event.
“It’s been fantastic to have so many internationals out here so I was happy to get that win. We’re in a different phase than the Europeans, for us this is our selection and for the internationals they’re in a training block, but its good to race them and I look forward to the season ahead.”
With the event a selection relevant event, tensions ran high as second placed Noemie Fox admitted after the race.
“It was pretty intense as this was our last selection event. My main competitor Kate (Eckhardt) put down a great run, so I was pretty nervous at the start but I managed to hold it together. It’s pretty cool to see our training group first, second and third. I think we’re very strong because of the competition between us and we paddled really well.”
“I think Jess showed she’s one level above us but it’s really cool to train with her and race with her because she is one of the best paddlers in the world,” the 20-year old added about racing her sister. “This was like a World Cup. There are so many great paddlers here so to test yourself against everyone is really cool, and to do it on our home course is even better,” she added about the high-calibre field at this year’s Australian Open.
In the men’s K1 three Australians progressed to the final top ten with Rio 2016 Olympian and 2018 Oceania Champion Lucien Delfour taking home the win with teammates Daniel Watkins (TAS) and Timothy Anderson (VIC) finishing fifth and seventh.
“I was a little bit surprised when I crossed the finish line and when I saw my time. I thought it was a good run but not that fast with five seconds ahead and I’m pretty happy with that,” Delfour said after the race. And in reference to selections he added “It was all good for me as I won in Auckland so I made the team already, but racing here I still wanted to do well and win the race. I have only won the Australian Open once, so I knew I could do better.”
And about his teammates’ performance he said: “Its great to see the younger boys step up. Dan’s been paddling super well. He did great in Auckland (Oceania Championships) and he absolutely smashed the semi-final, won the qualifications on Friday. Its great to see and its more competition within our group and hopefully we all improve because of it.”
Teammate Dan Watkins had a strong event finishing fifth in the Open and winning the U23 category,
“I’m really happy with the weekend as a whole. I was over the moon and surprised myself a little to come first in the qualifiers. And I was really happy to pull off a great run in the semi today and make the final with a really fast time. Lucien Delfour just killed the final and surprised everyone with a fantastic time. I knew he did well and that I had to change my game plan and paddled a bit more aggressively, but in the end I threw myself off line and came fifth,” Watkins said. “It’s all still to be confirmed, but this means I made selections in both the K1 and C1 so really happy to be doubling up on the senior team this year.”
Already yesterday, Ian Borrows (NSW) was the only Australian to make the men’s C1 final. He finished just outside of the medal ranks in fourth place and +2.61 seconds behind the winner following one touch halfway down the course.
Some of the biggest names in world slalom contested the 2018 Canoe Slalom Australian Open at the Penrith Whitewater Stadium with Rio 2016 Olympic champion Denis Gargaud Chanut from France taking home the win in Saturday’s C1. Chanut had a clean run and a finishing time of 98.68 that saw him +1.01 seconds ahead of Rio 2016 silver medallist Matej Benus from Slovakia. Slovenia’s 2014 C2 World Champion Luka Bozic finished third.
The annual migration of the world’s best canoe slalom athletes from the Northern Hemisphere to the Australian summer has been particularly strong this year, with many of the athletes spending several weeks Down Under preparing for another big European season ahead.
Australian Slalom Team Selections for the 2018 World Cup and World Championship season will be confirmed next week with the 2018 season to culminate at the Canoe Slalom World Championships in Rio in September (25-30 September 2018).
A record number of sixteen countries competed at Penrith Whitewater Stadium over the weekend, with 269 starters from sixteen countries battling it out on the 2000 Sydney Olympic Canoe Slalom course.
It was the second international canoe slalom event of the year for Australia’s paddlers following the Canoe Slalom Oceania Championships, Auckland, New Zealand at the end of January (Jan 27 – 29 2018). Results from both events count towards selection to the 2018 Australian Slalom Team.
The 2018 Canoe Slalom Australian Open were kindly supported by Colonial Hotel, Kennards Hire and Trim’s Fresh Fruit Shop.
Women’s C1 Final – Sunday, 18 February 2018
Men’s K1 Final – Sunday, 18 February 2018
Men’s C1 Final – Saturday, 17 February 2018
Women’s K1 Final – Sunday, 18 February 2018
See all results here: http://bit.ly/18AusOpenLiveResults
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