ICF Canoe slalom action is back this Friday when Cardiff, Wales hosts the first of five World Cups.
World Cup 1 promises to produce some fantastic racing, with 12 London Olympic medallists attending the event.
The Australians lead by 2012 Olympic K1 silver medallist Jessica Fox will be looking to get off to a strong start, to set the standard for a successful World Cup season.
Joining Fox in the Australian Team will be fellow London Olympian Robin Jeffery (WA), seasoned World Cup campaigners Lucien Delfour (NSW), Ian Borrows (NSW), Rosalyn Lawrence (NSW), Sarah Grant (VIC) and Christian Fabris (VIC), and U23 paddlers Alison Borrows (NSW), Jaxon Merritt (VIC) and Joey Croft (NSW).
Croft will be making his World Cup debut alongside Ethan Hodson (NSW).
Lead by National Head Coach Mike Druce, the team has had a successful preparation leading into the Cardiff, with the squad attending a training camp down the London Olympic course at Lee Valley, for many of whom it was their first experience.
On Sunday the team arrived in Cardiff where they joined the Italian team to get acclimatised to the tricky variable water at the venue.
Druce is confident that the team is ready to perform in Cardiff.
“As the first big race of the year it will be a good test for everyone with a strong international field present,” said Druce.
“The Australians will be aiming for a strong showing in the finals and on to the podium to set the standard for the tour.”
The men’s C1 heats will get racing underway on Friday morning from 10am local time (7pm AUS EST).
German 2012 Olympic silver medallist and World number seven Sideris Tasiadis, fellow countryman Jan Benzien, Slovakian pair Matej Benus and Alexander Slafkovsky, and Great Britain Olympic C2 gold medallist David Florence will be the ones to beat.
Leading the Australian challenge will be Jeffery, who will also line up in the men’s C2 heats on Saturday alongside Hodson.
The 25 year old Ascot paddler will be confident of getting off to a solid start in Cardiff after completing a clean sweep of the selection races in Penrith, New South Wales and Bradys Lake, Tasmania earlier in the year.
Borrows and Fabris will join Jeffery in the men’s C1 event after finishing second and third respectively in the selection trials.
Australian duo Lawrence and Fox will be amongst the frontrunners in the women’s C1 event, which will follow the men’s C1 heats on the opening day.
The duo are currently ranked first and third respectively on the ICF World Rankings and will be confident of featuring on the podium in Cardiff.
There likely challengers will be Frenchwoman Caroline Loir, Czech paddler Katerina Hoskova and Slovakian Katarina Macova.
Penrith Valley canoeist Alison Borrows will also contest the women’s C1 event.
The men’s K1 event will round out the opening day of racing in Cardiff.
Recently crowned European champion and U23 world champion Jiri Prskavec (CZE), 2012 Olympic silver and bronze medallists Vavrinec Hradilek (CZE) and Hannes Aigner (GER), and world number one Etienne Daille (FRA) are tipped to fight it out for the medals.
Leading the Australian charge will be Delfour, who will be looking to add to the bronze medal he won at the Pau World Cup in France last year.
Merritt and Croft will join Delfour to fly the Australian flag, with Croft making his World Cup debut in Cardiff.
The men’s C1, women’s C1 and men’s K1 finals will be contested on Saturday morning.
The men’s C2 and women’s K1 heats and semifinals will be raced on Saturday afternoon with the finals to proceed on Sunday.
Fox will be amongst the favourites to secure a K1 podium berth, but will face tough competition from fellow Australian’s Lawrence and Grant, Great Britain European champion Fiona Pennie and Slovakian world number one Jana Dukatova.
For more information please follow the key links below. Daily wrap ups and news items will be posted on the Australian Canoeing website throughout the weekend.
ICF World Cup 1 Schedule (All time local Cardiff time, 9hrs behind AUS EST)
10:00 – C1M Heat Run 1
10:43 – C1W Heat Run 1
11:09 – K1M Heat Run 1
13:30 – C1M Heat Run 2
14:13 – C1W Heat Run 2
14:39 – K1M Heat Run 2
17:00 – C1M Semifinal
18:05 – C1W Semifinal
18:50 – K1M Semifinal
11:17 – C1M Final
11:47 – C1W Final
12:17 – K1M Final
14:25 – K1W Heat Run 1
15:12 – C2M Heat Run 1
15:46 – K1W Heat Run 2
16:33 – C2M Heat Run 2
18:15 – K1W Semifinal
19:20 – C2M Semifinal
11:02 – K1W Final
11:32 – C2M Final
13:00 – C1M Team Final
13:18 – C1W Team Final
13:26 – K1M Team Final
13:49 – K1W Team Final
14:06 – C2M Team Final
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