World champion Connor Baxter and runner-up world title holder April Zilg were among the star performers on the opening day of the International Canoe Federation Stand Up Paddling World Cup in Oklahoma on Friday.

USA’s Baxter won his heats of both the sprint and technical race. He was quickest over the shorter distance, and second fastest behind Hungary’s Daniel Hasulyo in the technical race.

The contest between Baxter and Hasulyo is set to be one of the highlights of the third ICF SUP World Cup. The overall winner of the three-race weekend will earn all=expenses paid entry to next month’s ICF SUP World Championships in Poland.

“We’ve got two weeks to go and the preparation has been going really well, so I really didn’t mind coming over for this race because it’s the sort of conditions where I like to paddle,” Hasulyo said.

“I have never been to Oklahoma before, so this was one of those chances. Long distance is definitely my specialty, so I’m really looking forward to Sunday.

“I’m looking forward to heading straight to Poland after this to keep my preparation going, but the chance to race here is just amazing.”

American Zilg is also hoping to earn her tickets to the ICF World Championships this weekend, and looked strong in posting the quickest time in the hears of the SUP sprint.

Fellow American Kimberly Barnes was fastest in the technical race, while Katniss Paris also showed she is set to fight out for the medals with fast times in both the sprint and technical races.

“I think I did pretty well, my start was a bit crazy because it’s the first time I’ve been on this board,” Paris said.

“I did a lot better than I expected. It’s pretty awesome, I’ve not raced any world cups before. Sprinting’s always been my thing that I wanted to do, so here I am. I think this is a really awesome park, this should be the standard for SUP to have set-ups like this.”

The finals of the SUP sprint and technical events will be held on Saturday, with the final of the long distance races on Sunday.


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