Tokyo Olympic gold and bronze medalist Jessica Fox showed no Games hangover when she set the fastest times in both the women's canoe and kayak semi-finals on the first day of the ICF canoe slalom world cup in La Seu, Spain, on Friday.
The third World Cup race of the season takes place on the 1992 Olympic Course in La Seu d'Urgell and Spanish paddlers took advantage of their home venue already on the opening day of the competition.
In men's kayak heats the 2019 world championships silver and bronze medallists from this course David Llorente and Joan Crespo again showed their power. In the absence of reigning world and Olympic champion Jiri Prskavec, Llorente set the fastest time of the day and finished the course 1.64 seconds ahead of his teammate Joan Crespo. This year's European champion Vit Prindiš from Czech Republic finished third in the heats.  
In both women's events - kayak and canoe, Australian Jessica Fox set the best times in the first run to safely qualify to the semifinals on Saturday and Sunday. In kayak, Brazilian Ana Satila and Kimberley Woods from Great Britain were second and third, while in canoe heats Mallory Franklin (GBR) and Klara Olazabal (ESP) produced the second and third time of the day.
Three times Olympic medallist and Spain's canoe slalom legend Maialen Chourraut failed to qualify to the semifinal after the first run, after she picked up 50 penalty seconds in the first part of the course, but in the second run she produced the fastest run of the day in women's kayak (she was faster than Fox in the first run) and also advanced to the next stage of the competition.
"In the first run I paddled quite well, but I entered the upstream gate too tight, which brought me the 50 seconds penalty," Chourraut said.

"In the second run, I decided to keep the way of paddling, go easy, through the middle of the gates and just do my run. I am in the semifinal, which is the important thing. Tomorrow is the new day, now I need to analyse the semifinal course and get ready."
In the last event of the day, men's canoe heats, reigning European champion and 2016 Olympic gold medalist Denis Gargaud Chanut from France navigated through the gates of the course the smoothest. He was half a second faster than Lennard Tuscherer from Germany, while local favourite Miquel Trave finished the first heats run in third place.
On Saturday, the 2021 ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup race in La Seu d'Urgell continues with semifinals and finals in women's and men's kayak, and extreme slalom time trials.

Words and pics by Nina Jelenc

France Denis Gargaud Chanut La Seu 2021

Canoe Slalom
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