World champions Vanda Kiszli, Mads Pedersen and Liudmyla Babak led the way with short course wins on the opening day of the ICF Canoe Marathon World Cup in Ruse, Bulgaria, on Saturday.

Kiszli and Babak continued their domination of women’s K1 and C1 racing respectively, while Pedersen found his way back to the top of the podium after losing out to Portugal’s Fernando Pimenta at last year’s world championships in Ponte de Lima.

Kiszli has already laid claim to being one of the greatest female marathon paddlers of all time with four consecutive world titles. On Saturday in Ruse she showed once again the shorter race holds no fears for her, finishing more than three seconds ahead of Denmark’s Pernille Hostrup, with Great Britain’s Melissa Johnson third.

Pedersen was even more impressive, with the Dane following up his back-to-back K1 5000 canoe sprint titles with another gold in Ruse. Pedersen finished almost 19 seconds ahead of Portugal’s Jose Ramalho, with South Africa’s Matthew Fenn taking bronze.

Few people have dominated an event to the extent of Ukraine’s Liudmyla Babak, with five consecutive world titles, and two out of the three short distance world titles. She only missed the third gold after taking a wrong turn last year.

On Saturday she was at her best again, finishing more than 30 seconds ahead of Ukrainian teammate Olena Tsyhankova, with Germany’s Annette Wehrmann third.

There was also gold for Ukraine in the men’s C1, with Dmytro Yanchuk outlasting Hungarian Marton Kover, with Spain’s Manuel Garrido third. Teammate Albina Yakobchuk won the C1 junior women’s title, Bulgaria’s Dimitar Petrov the C1 junior men’s, Germany’s Hjordis Sommer the K1 junior women, and Ireland’s Bem Higgins the junior men’s K1.

The marathon world cup will continue with long distance finals on Sunday.

Canoe Marathon