France created slalom history, a Slovenian emulated the achievements of his father more than three decades ago, a German who only paddles C1 part time and a teenage veteran took the honours on an eventful day of racing at the 2023 ICF Junior and U23 world championships in Krakow on Friday.

History was created in the men’s U23 K1 final, when for the first time ever in the ICF Junior and U23 world championships one country filled all three medal positions.

Tokyo Olympian Evy Leibfarth bounced back to form with a stunning win in the women’s U23 K1, Ziga Lin Hocevar won C1 junior gold 31 years after his father had also triumphed, and Paulina Pirro took junior women’s C1 gold in an event she admits she only trains in occasionally.

Of the three French paddlers in the men’s U23 K1 final, Leo Vuitton was the least credentialled. Krakow is his first ever world championships, and teammates Anatole Delassus and Titouan Castryck were both previous world champions.

It came as no real surprise that the French trio made a clean sweep of the medals, creating ICF history in the process. But the surprise came with the gold medalist – debutant Vuitton.

“I’m still very emotional,” he said after the win.

“It’s incredible, it was a dream, and now it’s a reality, so I’m super happy. This year is my first French team of my life, so it’s a big step. Now I will push hard to continue and to achieve higher goals.”

Vuitton’s gold came despite a two-second penalty for a gate touch. Silver went to Delassus, while Castryck also had a gate touch on his way to the bronze.

France Leo Vuitton Krakow 2023

American Evy Leibfarth reminded everyone what she is capable of by delivering one of the runs of the day to win the women’s U23 K1. Leibfarth, who is still chasing her first world cup podium this season, beat a world-class field to take gold by more than one second.

It follows on from the junior K1 title she won on the eve of the Tokyo Olympics.

“Some of my best runs are the ones where I’m not thinking about my paddling, I’m just reacting and having a lot of fun out there,” Leibfarth said.

“In this run, I was in the third gate and I was just smiling to myself, and saying I’m just going to go out there and have fun, and that’s what I did. I kind of had a time in my mind that I wanted, and then when I saw it I thought “oh my God”, because it was better than I even expected.

“For sure I was nervous, but I think whatever happened I would have been happy, just because of my paddling. It’s just crazy that almost all of the girls in this final have been in a world cup final before, and racing on the senior circuit. So it’s a really tough field.”

Slovenia Ziga Lin Hocevar Krakow 2023

In 1992 Simon Hocevar won the junior C1 world title in Norway. In 2018 Eva Alina Hocevar won the K1 junior girls title in Ivrea. And on Friday, Ziga Lin Hocevar also became a world champion, finishing more than three seconds clear of his closest rival in the men’s junior C1.

“I worked so hard for this, the pressure was so big because I knew all the sacrifices that have gone into this since 2018 when my sister won,” Hocevar said.

“After my dad won in 1992, it is incredible. I put everything that I had in my power to win this. It means so much to me. Now I have two more years to defend the title.”

In one of the hardest fought finals of the day, Germany’s Paulina Pirro triumphed in the women’s junior C1. Pirro was the final paddler on the water, and was the only athlete to go under the 100 second mark. Even with a two second penalty, Pirro still finished more than two seconds clear of the next best paddler.

Pirro said the gold was a complete surprise, because she prefers the K1 and rarely trains in the canoe.

“This was not the plan, K1 is my favourite discipline and C1 is my second discipline, so this is crazy, I’m a world champion,” Pirro said.

“My training is nearly all in the K1, and just before the races I do one or two sessions in the C1. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow in the K1.”

The 2023 ICF Junior and U23 Slalom World Championships continue in Krakow on Saturday.


Men’s U23 K1

  1. VUITTON Leo        (FRA)  66 (2 seconds in penalties)
  2. DELASSUS Anatole (FRA) 82.07 (0)
  3. CASTRYCK Titouan (FRA) 82.45 (2)

Women’s U23 K1

  1. LEIBFARTH Evy (USA)       24 (0)
  2. GALUSKOVA Antonie (CZE) 91.53 (0)
  3. CHAREL Coline (FRA) 88 (0)

Men’s Junior C1

  1. HOCEVAR Ziga Lin (SLO) 87.13 (0)
  2. CORNU Martin (FRA) 90.39 (0)
  3. KRATOCHVIL Lukas (CZE) 92.08 (2)

Women’s Junior C1

  1. PIRRO Paulina (GER)  77 (2)
  2. HEYDENREICH Christin (GER) 102.40 (0)
  3. KNEBLOVA Klara (CZE) 103.23 (0)

Pics by Damiano Benedetto

Germany Paulina Pirro C1 Krakow 2023

Canoe Slalom