The Slovenian Canoe Federation took advantage of the easing of Covid-19 restrictions to host what could be the first canoe slalom races of the post-lockdown era.

The races were internal and behind closed doors, so no spectators were allowed to enjoy the first runs of the year. The start of the first race of the year was below the remodelled dam, which was a trademark of the famous Tacen course that hosted ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in 1955, 1991 and 2010.

Peter Kauzer took the win in the men’s kayak events ahead of Martin Srabotnik and Žan Jakše. Kauzer was happy that racing had returned.

“The race was organised in a last minute so I did not prepare for it at all," he said.

"We are in a weird situation. The virus stopped the whole world, I hope the situation will improve even though it does not look good at the moment. It was nice to get back to race mode.

"I hope we will have at least a couple of races this year. My focus is still Toyko.”

Eleven months after her last race before an injury and dislocated shoulder Urša Kragelj won the women’s kayak event. Reigning world champion Eva Terčelj was second and Ajda Novak third.

“I have a difficult rehabilitation and this race was a nice start to the season 2020, even though we do not know whether we will have some international events or not," Kragelj said.

"The fact is none of us are in very good form. This was a bit of improvisational race but I am happy I did not show very bad runs."

Eva Alina Hočevar was the fastest in women’s canoe event, Alja Kozorog finished the race three seconds behind and Katja Bengeri was third.

“I had four runs in a short time, we did not have much break. I was quite anxious because this was the first race. The first three runs were not so good, but the last one brought me win,” said Hocevar.

A bit surprisingly Jure Lenarčič won in men’s canoe event ahead of reigning European champion Benjamin Savšek and last year’s bronze medallist at World Championships, Luka Božič.

“I was surprised to win if I am honest. My run did not seem so good that I would be confident that it was enough for a win. The runs were pretty good, but there were still some mistakes,” said the winner of the men’s canoe event.

Words and pics from Nina Jelenc

Slovenia Jure Lenarcic

Canoe Slalom