Pic by Balint Vekassy

Two of the biggest names competing at this week’s ICF Junior and U23 Canoe Slalom World Championships had their colours lowered on Wednesday at Bratislava, but both are safely through to their respective semi-finals.

Leading local paddler and Rio Olympian, Jakub Grigar, qualified in 11th place for the U23 K1 semi-finals, while multiple World Champion and two-time Olympic medallist, Jessica Fox, finished second in the U23 women’s C1.

France’s Mathieu Desnos was fastest in the K1, his time of 84.06 putting him ahead of Germany’s Stefan Hengst in 84.56, with another Frenchman, Pol Oulhen, third in 86.13.

20-year-old Grigar, a two-time World junior champion and the defending U23 titleholder, said he felt flat even before the race started.

“I didn’t really enjoy the run,” Grigar said.

“I felt a little bit bad from the beginning until the end. I’m happy I made the semi-final, but hopefully it is going to be better on Friday.”

Austria’s Viktoria Wolffhardt surprised even herself with her fast time in the first run of the U23 C1, posting an error-free time of 111.89 to put her ahead of Fox on 113.57, with European champion Kimberley Woods of Great Britain third in 113.92.

“I was really surprised when I came to the finish because the run didn’t feel so well,” Wolffhardt said.

“I haven’t had so much training in C1 because I had surgery on my knee so I haven’t been able to get into my C1 for quite a long time.

“I’m still not secure in my C1, but it gets better with every session I’m doing, so I’m so happy with my result today. I still feel it, I’m sitting differently in my boat, it’s not the same on both sides.”

In the junior events Czech Tomas Lima was quickest in the K1, in a clean time of 88.04. Austria’s Felix Oschmautz was second fastest in 91.76, but also had four seconds in penalties.

“It was a good run, I felt a bit of hesitation, but from half of the run I felt really comfortable in the water and I knew if I brought it to the line it will be okay,”Oschmautz said.

“It means a lot to me because this is my last junior worlds, so I want to show off my skills and have a good race.”

Another Czech was quickest in the junior women’s C1, with Eva Rihova one of the few paddlers to post a clean run.

Rihova finished in 112.81 seconds, with Poland’s Aleksandra Stach second in 115.13, and Germany’s Andrea Herzog third in 116.35.

“I’m happy because the run went how I wanted it to,” Rihova said.

“The jump is so hard, and being a left gate and I’m paddling oin the right side, it makes it a bit hard for me.”

The 2017 ICF Canoe Slalom Junior and U23 World Championships continue in Bratislava on Thursday.

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