World Champs Show Class at Australian Open
World champions Jessica Fox and Jiri Prskavec showed their class to win gold medals at the canoe slalom Australian Open at Penrith in NSW on Saturday.
And outlining the class on display in Penrith, Olympic gold medallists, cousins Peter and Ladislav Skantar won gold for Slovakia in the men’s C2.
Australia’s Fox, who will be aiming to win a fourth consecutive World C1 title later this year, finished almost ten seconds ahead of younger sister, Noemie, while the Czech Republic’s two-time world champion, Prskavec, was almost three seconds quicker than American Michal Smolen in the men’s K1.
Olympic gold medallist, Joe Clarke, finished third in a star-studded final.
Fox said it was a great thrill to share the podium with her younger sister.
“I was really happy with my run, I executed it the way I planned, and I was happy to see the little sis doing well,” Jessica Fox said.
“For me I try not to put too much emotion into it. We’re sisters, but we’re also competitors on the start line, so each does their best.
“I know I have to watch my back a little bit, that maybe she’s watching me more closely now. But it’s a good competitive rivalry that we have, and we have a great relationship.
“We train together, and we support each other on the water as well. I think her improving is only going to be better for me as well.”
Prskavec was the only paddler to go sub-90 seconds in the K1 fil, his time of 88.17 putting him 2.80 seconds ahead of Smolen.
The American said he had put the disappointment of missing the Rio final behind him, and was already looking forward to the next Games.
“I’m just coming off a really hard training block, and I feel more fit now than I did for the entire four years before the Games,” Smolen said.
“I think there’s a lot of stress associated with the Games, and i don’t know if I coped with that very well. But now that stress is all gone, I can relax and do my best and not worry about the outcome.
“I’m usually pretty hard on myself, and I know I was crushed after my race in Rio. It was kind of hard to move on from that, but I saw a light at the end of the tunnel and I realised it was a really good opportunity to learn and motivate myself for the next four or maybe eight years.”
In the men’s C2, Olympic gold medallist and cousins, Peter and Ladislav Skantar, finished just 0.30 seconds ahead of the French team of Nicolas Scianimanico and Hugo Cailhol.
Ladislav Skantar said it was good to post a win early in the year.
“We are just at the start of the season, and we will work hard towards the World Championships,” he said.
“After the Olympics we were very busy, but this year we want gold in every competition we go in.
“We want to keep paddling the C2. We want to win World Championships, we will just focus on the C2.”
The women’s K1 and the men’s C1 finals will be contested on Sunday at Penrith’s Whitewater Stadium.