Bumpy opener for K1M top contenders

London 2012 Games slalom K1M medallists, Daniele Molmenti (ITA) Vavrinec Hradilek (CZE) and Hannes Aigner (GER), all progressed to the semifinals of the 2015 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships at Lee Valley.
 
For Molmenti today was emotional return to the Olympic course where he won gold three summers ago.  He did enough to qualify from the opening heat in nineteenth place but he's looking to produce better form on Sunday
 
“The run was ok, it was enough, but I was really not focussed at all at the start,” said Molmenti.  “I just tried to go down without making big mistakes and it was good for now but I have to change my mind a bit for Sunday.
 
“All my training programme is on schedule to be here really fit, and this is my goal so let’s see on Sunday.”
 
Despite recent breathing problems he believes were caused by bronchitis, Hradilek finished comfortably within the top 30 cut on his opening run to qualify.
 
“It was a hard race because I knew it was going to be very tough because it's an easy course so you can't afford any mistakes,” said London 2012 silver medallist.  “I knew it wasn't a fast run but it was about making it down without any mistakes.
 
“It's amazing it's something that I really appreciate, that we can race at the same venue three years after the Games.  For us the legacy of the sport is very important and to support the British Canoeing and all the facilities to race here is, for me, very important.”
 
Acknowledged as one of the world’s most physically demanding courses it was little surprise that most of today’s 106 K1M competitors finished with tired arms.
 
After qualifying seventh from heat one Hannes Aigner, bronze medallist at the London Games, admitted: “It’s pretty exhausting, the course is pretty physical so I think it was a little bit surprised that I was under the top seven when I came down because I didn’t have a good feeling. 
 
“I have fun and good memories and I really enjoy paddling here because I think it’s the best course in the world for training.”
 
It was New Zealander Mike Dawson who produced the fastest run of the opening heat, his 81.28 second time containing no penalties.
 
"The cool thing about my run is that I just try to have fun,” he said.  “I'm pretty stoked about what I do on the water and that was pretty fun. I was happy with that, but even if I was slower or faster I would be happy with that too."
 
Britain’s Joe Clarke was second, just 0.19 of a second off Dawson after a solid run which produced a good reaction from the home crowd.
 
“It’s great to get through to the semifinal on the first run and to put a solid run down and a bit of a marker in the sand for what I need to do on Sunday in the semifinal,” said Clarke.
 
“It is fantastic when you come down the home stretch you can hear all the crowd cheering and it really pushes you down the course and gives you that extra bit of edge.
 
World and European under 23 champion, Jiri Prskavec (CZE), proved again he could mix it with the senior athletes after emerging from the first heat in a semifinal qualifying eighth place.
 
“I think I’m in good form, good shape so I’ll try my best and hope I can make it into the finals,” said Prskavec who has getting to grips with a new boat.
 
“It is turning much faster and I have been working hard on technique on the water so it’s the perfect boat for this course and I hope I can show that.”
 
Peter Kauzer (SLO), the season’s World Cup series winner and one of the more experienced competitors in the field, almost missed the start of his first run but after catching his breath managed to qualify in fourteenth place.
 
“I had in mind my time was six or seven minutes later and everyone was screaming come on it’s your turn,” said Kauzer.
 
“I was sprinting to the conveyor belt and running up there, setting the boat closed my spray deck and the lady said just go because it was just five seconds to go.
 
“The first couple of gates I took it easy because I want to catch my breath and not be so tired in the course.  I just managed down the course with an ok run with no major mistakes.”
 
Reigning World Champion, Boris Neveu (FRA), made up for a first heat where he incurred a 50 second penalty, to qualify from his second run in fourth place.
 
"In the end it was ok today, not very good, but I’m in the semifinal,” admitted Neveu before explaining his improvement since winning the title a year ago.
 
“Yes it’s different, but I have more experience now and I have a lot of confidence in the way I can navigate the boat and myself. I think it could be enough for the gold on Sunday, I hope so!”
 

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