The first day of the ICF 2014 Slalom Junior and U23 World Championships has produced some memorable racing in Penrith.
The opening day belonged to the Czech Republic with Jiri Prskavec and Amalie Hilgertova leading the way.
They recorded the fastest times in the U23 K1M and Junior K1W heats respectively.
Australian Jessica Fox also got her U23 Worlds campaign off to the perfect start recording the fastest K1W time.
The morning began with the U23 K1M heats.
Prskavec showed his class executing a clean and fast run down the technical 23 gate course to win the U23 K1M heat in 88.43.
The 2013 senior World Championship silver medalist finished 0.55 seconds ahead of American Michal Smolen.
Italian Zeno Ivaldi was third fastest after putting together a fast second run of 91.71 down the 2000 Sydney Olympic course.
Victorian Jaxon Merritt lead the Australian charge in seventh, 4.72 seconds behind Prskavec.
Fellow Australians’ Tim Anderson of Melbourne and Tasmanian Daniel Watkins also comfortably qualified inside the top 40 for the semifinal in 15th and 16th respectively.
Other world class names that will join Prskavec and co in the semifinal include defending champion Mathieu Biazizzo of France, Slovakian Martin Halcin and Polish kayaker Rafal Polaczyk.
Polaczyk found the course a little bit tough on his first run but improved in his second to record the sixth fastest heat time.
“There isn’t much space. It wasn’t the fastest time. Six points was pretty stupid, but I will be better on the next run”, Prskavec said.
The U23 K1W heat followed with Jessica Fox topping the timesheet in 101.00, 0.13 seconds ahead of Karolina Galuskova who continued the Czechs excellent start in Penrith.
“It has been really good to get out there and race today and I am excited for the next few days of racing”, said Fox.
Italian Stephanie Horn recorded the third fastest time of 102.12.
“I like the course, it is very nice to go from the upstream to the next downstream and the boat is running so you have a good feeling so it is a nice course”, Horn said.
Australian pair Alison Borrows and Georgia Rankin qualified for the semifinal in 18th and 25th respectively.
British kayaker Kimberley Woods also progressed through to the semifinal after recording the ninth fastest heat time.
Woods won silver at last year’s Junior World Championships and steps up to U23 competition this year.
It is Woods first time competing at Penrith Whitewater Stadium.
“It is the first time I have been here and it is very good and very different to what I am used to”, Woods said.
Woods is aiming to make the final.
“Hopefully final, it is my first year of U23s and it would be really nice to get a good result but I am here to just do my best really.”
The morning concluded with the U23 C2M heat.
The Czechs continued to dominate with Jonas Kaspar and Marek Sindler combining to set the fastest time of 101.67.
They finished 5.42 seconds ahead of Polish pair Filip and Andrzej Brzezinski.
All 12 boats progressed to the semifinal.
The afternoon session saw the Junior K1M, K1W and C2M heats contested.
Defending Junior World Champion Amalie Hilgertova produced a fast second run of 105.43 to qualify quickest for the Junior K1W semifinal.
Earlier in the first runs, Tasmanian Kate Eckhardt executed arguably her best ever run down the Penrith course to record the second fastest time, 0.90 seconds behind the Czech.
Frenchwoman Camille Prigent was third fastest in 109.61.
Joining them in the semifinal will be Brazilian Ana Satila, Australian Noemie Fox and Jiahua Yan of China. All of whom recorded top ten heat times.
Eckhardt was delighted with her first run, “It was smooth, clean I really could not have asked more from my first run, I was really happy”, she said.
The Junior K1M heat was won by Slovenian Niko Testen in 94.49, 1.16 seconds ahead of Austrian Mario Leitner.
Czech kayaker Thomas Rousek was the third fastest in 96.59 ahead of Frenchman Pol Oulphen and fellow Czech Pavel Supolik who rounded out the top five boats.
Canadian Ryley Penner also advanced to the semifinal in 28th.
He enjoyed his first taste of the course in Penrith and believes everyone is in with a chance of winning.
“There are so many good paddlers out there and because it is a junior race anyone can really step it up a notch and really put down a good run,” Penner said.
The Czechs continued their domination of the C2 event with Michael Matej and Jan Vetrovsky combining to produce the quickest junior heat time of 117.36.
Despite incurring four seconds in penalties because of two gates touches, the pair finished 2.87 seconds ahead of Polish pair Adam Kozub and Jakub Brzezinski.
The Czechs had a second boat in the top three with Jan Mrazek and Tomas Rousek recording the third fastest time of 125.16.
Western Australian teenagers Brodie Crawford and Steven Lowther sat out the second run with their first run time of 139.11 placing them sixth.
The action heats up in Penrith tomorrow for day two of the ICF Slalom Junior and U23 World Championships.
Racing will commence from 9am local EST with the U23 C1M heat up first.
For more information please follow the links below.