For the second time in its history the International Canoe Federation Wildwater Sprint World Championships will be held on the historic Augsburg Ice Channel in Germany in three months from now.

The championships will return to the course for the first time since 2011, and one year after Augsburg celebrated the 50th anniversary of hosting canoe slalom at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

This year’s world titles have been thrown wide open by a handful of high-profile retirements, and by the decision of some athletes, including multiple-world title holder Manon Hostens of France, to focus this season on qualifying for next year’s Paris Olympic Games.

Slovenia’s Nejc Znidarcic is expected to be back, and chasing an incredible fifth consecutive K1 sprint title, and his seventh overall. He won his first individual sprint title in Augsburg in 2011.

If he is successful, he will etch his name into the record books as the most successful athlete in a single event in the history of ICF Wildwater World Championships.

Currently Croatian legend Emil Milihram and Italian Vladi Panato, both in the men’s C1 classic, share the record of six gold medals with Znidarcic.

In the women’s K1 sprint four different French athletes have won gold at the past five world championships, while four different Czech athletes have won silver at the past four titles. With Hostens choosing to sit out this year, the door will be wide open for a new world champion.

In the men’s C1 sprint, Czech Ondrej Rolenc, a four-time world champion, announced his retirement after finishing outside the medals for the first time in five titles last year in France. Four different athletes have won the past four gold medals, with Frenchman Quentin Dazeur the early favourite this year after winning silver in 2021 and gold last year.

In women’s C1 Italy’s Cecilia Panato has won medals at the past four world titles, including two gold medals. But Czech Marie Nemcova will be the defending champion this year.

The men’s C2 will see the Frenchmen Stephane Santamaria and Quentin Dazeur start favourites, after winning their fourth crown last year. French crews have won six of the past seven titles on offer.

The 2023 ICF Wildwater Canoeing Sprint World Championships will be held in Augsburg, Germany, from June 9 to 11.

Cecilia Panato

Wildwater Canoeing