Three Olympic medalists and several paddlers from London 2012 confirm their participation
Three Olympic medalists and several athletes from the London 2012 Olympic Games have confirmed their participation at the 2012 ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup in Prague.
The Prague World Cup which will be held from 23-25 August (Friday-Sunday) is the fourth of five World Cups in ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup Series.
300 paddlers from 30 countries will go through an artificial course positioned on the lower end of the Vltava River where the Prague Canoeing Center (venue) is situated.
Czech Team primed for success after London 2012 and Wausau World Championships
Leading the Czech National Team is Vavrinec Hradilek (CZE) who gave the Czech Republic its first medal, silver, at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Hradilek who is ranked 3rd in the world, will be looking to win the K1 gold medal this time around with the support of a home crowd.
Germany, France and Italy will be fielding strong teams in Prague. London 2012’s Men’s K1 bronze medallist Hannes Aigner (GER) will compete as will teammate Sebastian Schubert (GER) ranked 4th in the ICF Ranking.
Olympic champion Daniele Molmenti (ITA) has decided together with his coaches to sit out the rest of the World Cup series providing the opportunity to Italy’s up and coming stars such as Lukas Mayr (ITA) who was a silver medallist at the U23 Wausau World Championship in July and teammate Giovanni de Gennaro (ITA).
Etienne Daille (FRA) is the top paddler entering the competition but after a disappointing campaign at the Olympic Games (he finished 7thin the final) he now also faces an internal challenge within a team that includes the in form Vivien Colober (FRA), bronze medallist in La Seu d’Urgell and Boris Neveu.
Denis Gargaud back in contention for C1 gold
Rejoining the World Cup circuit is Denis Gargaud Chanut (FRA) who narrowly missed out on Olympic qualification to Tony Estanguet (FRA), the eventual Olympic gold medallist. The 2011 World Champion will be looking to replace Estanguet as France’s number 1 Men’s C1 paddler particularly now that the 3 time Olympic champion has called time on his illustrious career.
Ander Elosegi (ESP) who finished 4th in the C1 event for the second time at an Olympic Games is also in contention to medal but will have the likes of Great Britain’s David Florence and home favourite Stanislav Jezek (CZE) to go up against.
Jezek who is part of the Organising Committee of the Prague World Cup finished 5th at the final in London.
“I was as always prepared for my competition,” said Jezek of his performance at the Games. “But people familiar with our sport know, on the day of your run it is not only about being in good form.
“One day you feel really good and the run is bad, the next day you feel bad and the run is good or the opposite. I once heard someone say ‘what we do when the conditions are favourable does not deserve mention, it is when the conditions are unfavorable and we are at our most imperfect that what we produce can be considered art.’ And my run was for sure not the best one I can show.”
Chourraut looking to continue best season ever
A bronze medallist at the Olympic Games and winner of 2 of 3 World Cups this season, Maialen Chourraut (ESP) headlines an increasingly competitive field of Women’s K1 paddlers. Chourraut’s performance at the Olympic Games gave Spain its first medal in Canoe Slalom.
Katerina Kudejova (CZE) is riding on the wave of success having won the Women’s K1 U23 World Championship title in Wausau. She will face strong competition from teammate Stepanka Hilgertova (CZE) who placed 4th in the final at the Olympic Games, the 2010 and 2011 World Champion Corinna Kuhnle (AUT) who finished in 8th place at the Games and Jana Dukatova (SVK) who finished in 6th place.
“This season is very hard for me,” said Dukatova. “I’m missing the good shape of previous years and that's why (also) my performance at the Games wasn't perfect.
“After the Games I rested for a week and then I started with some light preparation for the World Cups. After the main part of the season my body is quite tired, so I'm just trying to keep it running for the next two weeks and then I will finish up the season.”
Men’s C2 duo Florence/Hounslow (GBR) headline Olympic medalists at Prague World Cup
The Men’s Canoe Double hierarchy was blown aside after Etienne Stott and Tim Baillie (GBR) won the Olympic gold medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games and the Hochschorner brothers (SVK) who have dominated the event since Beijing 2008 took bronze.
But in the absence of the two medallists Great Britain’s David Florence/Richard Hounslow (GBR) silver medallist at the Olympic Games, will look to open up the gap between themselves and their gold medallist teammates. In close contention for World Cup gold will be the world No. 1 duo Pierre Labarelle/Nicolas Peschier (FRA), who lost out to teammates Gauthier Klauss/Matthieu Peche (FRA) in the French selection for the Olympic Games.
Luka Bozik/Saso Taljat (SLO) will of course be looking to make amends after a dismal semifinal run at the Games made them one of the biggest casualties of the Canoe Slalom competition. There will be home support for Jaroslav Volf and Ondrej Stepanek silver medallists from Beijing and bronze medallists from Athens.
Nevertheless it will be the Skantar cousins (SVK) who stand to gain the most in the absence of their teammates, the Hochschorner brothers (SVK). Having lost out to Peter and Pavol in consecutive attempts to qualify for the Olympic Games, this could be their moment to begin a successful campaign to represent Slovakia in Rio 2016.
Women’s Canoe category on the rise
Developing Canoeing countries are now looking to the Women’s Canoe category to gain an advantage in elite Canoeing. Rosalyn Lawrence (AUS), one of the world’s leading women canoeists and the reigning Women’s C1 U23 World Champion has noticed the increase in the number of new girls paddling C1 and the Start Lists that include new countries such as Ireland, Italy and Japan.
“I think these girls are training and racing with the expectation that Women’s C1 will be in the Olympic program in 2016, and I hope they aren't disappointed!”
Lawrence faces a growing challenge from an increasing list of elite young Women C1 paddlers, including Katerina Hoskova (CZE) the 2011 World Champion, who will undoubtedly be boosted by home support this weekend. In hot pursuit is Great Britain’s Mallory Franklin and Kimberley Woods who regularly challenge each other and the rest of the field, as well as Caroline Loir (FRA), Nuria Vilarrubla (ESP) and Lena Stoeckler (GER).
Races begin at 09h00 each day and ends at 18h45 on Friday (heats) and 14h15 on Saturday and Sunday afternoon with the finals.
The 2012 ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup 4 is presented by the International Canoe Federation (ICF) and the Czech Canoe Union.
For more information on the Prague World Cup visit: www.slalomtroja.cz .
The provisional schedule can be accessed here.