Czech selection goes to the wire

World Champion Katerina Kudejova (K1W) secured her ticket to Rio alongside Vitezslav Gebas (C1M) and the duo of Jonas Kaspar and Marek Sindler (C2M), but results mean there is a three-way-tie between Jiri Prskavec, Vit Prindis and Vavrinec Hradilek in the K1M who will now face a race-off at the European Championships to decide who will line-up in Brazil.

Calculations for the Czech Olympic team selection were pretty complicated. World champions had the advantage of the 5 points bonus. Winner got 11 points, second 9 and third 8 points. The worse result from the four competitions was deleted in the end. The maximum was 33 points (without the bonus for the world champions).

Many canoe slalom fans were curious to see if the Olympic legend Stepanka Hilgertova could qualify for her eighth Games. The 48-year-old was finally beaten by the 26-year-old world champion Kudejova. But the fresh grandmother managed to get into the Czech team again and we will see her in the series of the ICF World Cup events. She has been in the representation team for unbelievable 29 years without any break.

“I feel a bit disappointed for not getting to Olympics but I am glad I made it to the Czech team again. It seems I am not ready for the scrap heap yet,“ said Hilgertova.

Kudejova needed three, second places and one victory to secure the Olympic spot.

“I knew that if Stepanka does not win the last race in Prague, I would be safe for Rio. Now I feel relieved and will only focus on the Games. I do not feel like getting medal at the European champs as it is the natural channel which is a big change for everyone,” said Kudejova who is a sparring partner of Jiri Prskavec and wishes him the Rio team spot too.

Gebas as well as Kaspar with Sindler won three out of four Czech Cup races so they achieved the highest possible score (as the worst result is due to the rules deleted).

“I had to wait for this so long but it is a big reward for me now,” said the 32-year-old Gebas, who has his own real estate company, in Prague.

The C2M category was special because the two favourite crews are the training partners under the leadership of former C2 M star and Olympic medallist Ondrej Stepanek. Finally, Ondrej Karlovsky and Jakub Jane missed 5 points to their sparing partners.

“Our motivation was biggest because we are afraid that our event is at the Olympics for the last time,” said Sindler and Kaspar.  

Among kayakers, silver from London 2012 Hradilek did not start well as the first two events ended up with misfortune for him. He took 5th and 10th place in Veltrusy but he managed to win last two races in Prague. It means he will start with 28 points in Liptovsky Mikulas. His sparring partner Vit Prindis, coming back to the scene after the arm injury last year, has one point more, and the reigning world champion Jiri Prskavec leads with 31 points. But the situation can be different after the European championships.

The scoring at the European championships will be the same as at the Czech Cup – 11 – 9 – 8 points for the three athletes. But in Slovakia, the placement will not matter and the points will be distributed no matter the position. It means the best Czech will get 11 points even if he ends up fourth. The next one will get 9 and the last from the three will get 8 points.

The scenario is clear: Hradilek will get to Rio only if he wins this battle of three and Prskavec is third. If Vit is the best, he goes. If Jiri wins or is second behind Hradilek, he qualifies…

Czech Team for the season 2016:

K1 Men
1. Jiří Prskavec – 31 pts
2. Vít Přindiš – 29 pts
3. Vávra Hradilek – 28 pts

These three will fight for Rio 2016 ticket at the European Championships. Ondřej Tunka will join this team as 4th boat for the World Cups.

K1 Women
1. Kateřina Kudějová - Olympic Selection – 34 pts
2. Štěpánka Hilgertová – 29 pts
3. Karolína Galušková – 27 pts

Veronika Vojtová will join this team as 4th boat for the World Cups.

C2 Men
1. Kašpar – Šindler – Olympic Selection – 33 pts
2. Karlovský - Jáně – 28 pts
3. Koplik - Vrzáň – 26 pts

C1 Men
1. Vítězslav Gebas - Olympic Selection – 33 pts
2. Tomáš Rak – 25 pts
3. Lukáš Rohan – 24 pts

C1 Women
1. Kateřina Hošková – 31 pts
2. Monika Jančová – 30 pts
3. Martina Satková – 26 pts

Points achieved by the paddlers in four Czech Cup races: http://www.slalom-world.com/index.php?act=10&idz=45

Article: Zuzanna Trojakova
Photos: Ales Berka
Czech Canoe Federation

Canoe Slalom