Two athletes from famous canoe slalom families and a paddler who is in line for four medals this week turned in some of the performances of the day at the 2023 ICF Junior and U23 slalom world championships in Krakow on Thursday.

Czech Klara Kneblova, who won gold medals in both K1 and C1 team competitions on the opening day, qualified for the semi-finals in both individual competitions, while Slovenia’s Ziga Lin Hocevar, grandson of the 1972 Olympian, Tone, and son of former European champion, Simon, confirmed himself as a star of the future with outstanding displays in both the junior K1 and C1 heats.

And Xabier Ferrazzi, son of the Italian 1992 K1 Olympic champion, Pierpaolo, set an electric qualifying time in the men’s junior K1, posting a time three seconds faster than Slovenia’s Hocevar.

“I felt good, I really like the course here in Krakow, it’s really similar to my home course,” Ferrazzi said.

“I’m a little bit surprised with the time, I wasn’t expecting that. Both my parents were paddlers so that’s how I got started.”

Slovenia Ziga Lin Hocevar Krakow 2023

Hocevar had his chance to shine in his more favoured event, the C1, in the afternoon. After being forced to wait nearly an hour because of a thunderstorm, the 16-year-old went 1.66 seconds faster than Czech Lukas Kratochvil.

Hocevar is one of the few male paddlers who does both C1 and K1.

“Conditions were really tough with the gap, so I’m really happy with the result,” Hocevar said.

“I enjoy doing both, but to be honest I enjoy the C1 more. I think the K1 is more for my coach because he says it is good for me and my body to paddle both. I try to be fast in both boats, it’s hard in the training, but yes I’m happy.”

Kneblova is in line for four medals this week, and after having to do two runs to qualify for the junior K1, blitzed the C1 field to post a time more than four seconds faster than the rest of the field.

Kneblova revealed she has been struggling with a wrist injury which kept her out of the European Championships.

“I’m so happy, it was such a good run, I just felt good the whole time,” Kneblova said.

“I was really tired after doing two runs this morning. It’s been amazing so far, I’m so glad, because I skipped the European Championships because of my health problems. It’s better than it was, but still not completely fine.

“Because I haven’t paddled for a while I just wanted to feel good, and show that I am still on the level that I was before.”

Kneblova is in line to create history by becoming the first athlete to win more than two gold medals at a single junior or U23 world championships.

Czech Klara Kneblova C1 Krakow 2023

Last year Germany’s Paulina Pirro won junior K1 bronze, and showed she is on track to go even better this year after finishing more than three seconds quicker than the next best paddler in the Thursday morning heats.

“The run was very close and very fast, I had a touch but I love the course here in Krakow,” Pirro said.

The first individual medals of the 2023 world championships will be decided on Friday.

Pics by Damiano Benedetto

Germany Paulina Pirro Krakow 2023

Canoe Slalom