2016 Olympic gold medalist Maialen Chourraut heads a list of athletes who will make their first appearance for the international season at this weekend’s International Canoe Federation canoe slalom and kayak cross world cup in Prague.

Joining Spain’s Chourraut for a first outing of the season will be Rio K1 silver medalist Luuka Jones from New Zealand, Great Britain’s Tokyo C1 silver medalist Mallory Franklin, and Olympians Corinna Kuhnle from Austria and Nuria Vilarrubla from Spain.

All the gold medalists from the season opening event in Augsburg will be in action again, as will several Olympic champions who missed medals in Germany. Slovenia’s Benjamin Savsek, the reigning men’s C1 Olympic title holder, finished just outside the medals in Augsburg but is determined to recapture his best form in Prague.

“I have many good results from here, because I like this course,” Savsek said.

“Last week was a tough course, I did quite well, but with some mistakes, so I’ll try and do better this weekend. I am in good shape at the moment.

“There is always pressure, I’m used to it. It’s good to have some pressure at home. Maybe it’s a little bit more pressure, but I try not to think about it and just focus on my path.”

Ukraine’s Viktoriia Us is another looking to bounce back this weekend after narrowly missing the finals in the women’s K1, C1 and kayak cross. She said she is still learning how to remain focussed on her paddling, with her country in the news every day.

“On the water I feel good, but maybe I need to be more focussed. It’s really hard to stay focussed,” Us said.

“It depends on the news of the day. But when I’m training, it’s the only place where I can’t think about what is happening with the war. I really enjoy the feeling when my mind has a rest from the news.”

The second ICF Canoe Slalom and Kayak Cross begins on Thursday in Prague with heats of the men’s and women’s K1, and finishes on Sunday with the men’s and women’s kayak cross.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics Benjamin SAVSEK

Canoe Slalom
Kayak Cross
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