France has dominated the opening day of the 2019 ICF junior and U23 canoe slalom world championships, winning four gold medals in a powerful display of paddling across all disciplines.

France won gold in the women’s junior and U23 K1 team events, and also in the men’s junior C1 team event in a dominant morning for team les bleu, and then picked up the men’s U23 K1 team gold in the afternoon.

Italy also picked up two gold medals on the opening day, courtesy of their U23 men’s C1 team and their women’s junior C1 team.

There were also gold medals for the Czech Republic and Great Britain.

The women’s U23 K1 team of cousins Camille and Romane Prigent and Marjorie Delassus had 2.43 seconds to spare over the Czech Republic, with Germany a further second back in third. One week earlier a 50-second penalty had denied them a medal at the European Championshiops.

“It feels good, we weren’t so happy at the end because we thought we had made some little mistake. But when we came back and saw first still on the screen, we were so happy,” Camille Prigent said.

“It gives you confidence, and we share the happiness, so it’s even nicer than individual wins.”

The men’s U23 K1 team of Mathurin Madore, Malo Quemeneur and Poi Oulhen originally crossed the finish line in second place, but then had a two-second penalty removed to leapfrog them ahead of Slovenia, with Spain taking the bronze.

“When we arrived we had four penalties, and we knew we had only two, so we just had to wait five minutes, but we knew we had won the race,” Madore said.

France K1 junior team women world championships Krakow 2019

France’s junior women’s K1 team included 2018 Youth Olympic Games gold and silver medalist, Doriane Delassus, Emma Vuitton and Eva Pietracha. They finished just 0.80 seconds ahead of the Czech Republic, with Great Britain taking the bronze medal.

“We were really on fire on the water,” Pietracha, competing at her first world championships, said.

“I was a little nervous, but we did the European championships last week and I was more nervous then.”

The third morning medal for France came courtesy of Yohann Senechault, Adrien Fischer and Hector Combes in the men’s junior canoe team final.

“It was a pretty good run, we did not have a lot of penalties,” Combes said.

“A week ago we finished fourth at the European championships, and we wanted to do better today. We are very happy.”

France C1 men junior team world championships Krakow 2019

France finished 0.90 seconds ahead of Germany, with Great Britain again taking the bronze.

The first gold medal of the world championships went to the Italian men’s U23 C1 team of Raffaello Ivaldi, Paolo Ceccon and Flavio Micozzi. They finished 1.82 seconds clear of Slovakia, with the Czech Republic another 0.02 seconds behind in third.

“We won the Europeans last week, so we’re happy we were able to repeat our run,” Ivaldi said.

“We were strong today, we’ve grown a lot this year and the team has changed since last year.

“Three years ago all the staff in Italy changed, and we started a new project. Everybody moved to Ivrea to train, we have coaches in Ivrea, we can all stay in Ivrea and everyone in the team is good friends. We can see the results from the past three years.”

Italy C1 U23 men team world championships Krakow 2019

The change in Italian canoeing was further underlined by the junior women’s C1 team of Marta Bertoncelli, Elena Borghi and Elena Micozzi winning gold. They beat Slovakia by a massive 9.22 seconds, with the Czech Republic another second back in third.

One week earlier the same team won the European title in Slovenia.

“It’s crazy, we can’t believe it. Last year was kind of disappointing, but in the winter we trained together and we’ve grown up a lot,” Bertoncelli said.

“It makes a big difference being able to train together, because we are not just together in the water, we are also together out of the water. The C1 women in Italy was nothing before us, so this is really unbelievable.”

Gold in the women’s U23 C1 team competition went to the strong Czech team of Tereza Fiserova, Eva Rihova and Martina Satkova, finishing 3.54 seconds ahead of France, with Australia more than seven seconds further back in third.

“I think we had a really good run, we were clean and I think that was the most important thing, to be clean and to go fast, we did it all,” Satkova said.

“Three years ago we did the world championships here, and the European championships, so we have been the same team, so I think it’s been a good experience for us.”

The final gold medal of the day was won by Great Britain, with Jonny Dickson, Ben Haylett and Etienne Chappell winning the men’s junior K1 teams event, ahead of the Czech Republic and Germany.

The team had to bounce back after a disappointing result at the European championships last week.

“We took the confidence from training here,” Haylett said.

“We’ve been here about three weeks now, so we know where we’re going. We just thought we would build off that and take the positives when they came.”

The 2019 ICF junior and U23 canoe slalom world championships continue in Krakow, Poland, on Wednesday.

Pics by Konrad Swierad

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