Tokyo-bound athletes, Tokyo hopefuls and competitors who are already looking towards Paris 2024 will make a long awaited return to international competition this weekend at the International Canoe Federation’s canoe slalom world cup in Slovenia.

Host nation Slovenia will be the nation to catch across all disciplines over the three days of competition. Not only do the athletes have the benefit of familiarity with the challenging Tacen wildwater course, but competition for places on the Slovenia Olympic team is still wide open.

Local athletes will start favourites in the men’s K1 and C1 and the women’s K1, but it will be the women’s C1, set to make its Olympic debut next year, where the likely winner is harder to find.

Czech Gabriela Satkova upstaged her more experienced rivals to win European C1 gold in Prague last month, and will come up against the minor medalists again this weekend.

Fellow Czech Tereza Fiserova took silver in Prague and France’s Lucie Prioux bronze, while Austria’s Nadine Weratschnig, third in last year’s world championships, and American teenager Evy Leibfarth, fourth in the world in 2019, will provide hot competition on Sunday.

Three-time Olympian and 2016 silver medalist Peter Kauzer is eying off his fourth Olympics next year in the men’s K1 and will be a red-hot favourite on Saturday. The Slovenian showed he was close to his best with a silver medal in last month’s European championships and loves racing in Tacen.

Portugal’s Antoine Launay and Russia’s Pavel Eigel, seventh and ninth at last year’s world championships respectively, and USA’s Michal Smolen will pose the biggest threat to the hometown paddlers.

<a href='/webservice/athleteprofile/68786' data-id='68786' target='_blank' class='athlete-link'>Gabriela SATKOVA</a>

In the women’s K1 reigning world champion Eva Tercelj will carry Slovenia’s main hopes. Tercelj finished fourth at the European championships, but will be watching Austria’s two-time world champion, Corinna Kuhnle, closely on Saturday, along with Brazil’s two-time Olympian, Ana Satila, and USA’s Leibfarth.

Benjamin Savsek won European gold in the men’s C1 in Prague last month and will be keen to follow up with a win at home on Sunday. Czech Lukas Rohan, a silver medalist in Prague, and fellow Slovenian Luka Bozik, a bronze medalist at last year’s world championships and fourth at the Europeans, will be among the main challengers.

Some of the world’s biggest canoe slalom names have been forced to sit-out this weekend because of international Covid19 travel restrictions, however organisers are thrilled with the depth and the quality of the fields.

Entries for the exciting extreme canoe slalom competition have been particularly encouraging, as the discipline continues to make its case for inclusion on the Paris 2024 Olympic program.

Reigning world champion Veronika Vojtova of the Czech Republic heads the women’s field, while Brazil’s Pedro Goncalves, a bronze medalist at last year’s world titles, has proven himself one of extreme slalom’s most consistent performers.

The ICF canoe slalom world cup begins on Friday. Full streaming of the competition will be available, while the finals on Saturday and Sunday will be shown on Eurosport.

Slovenia <a href='/webservice/athleteprofile/36218' data-id='36218' target='_blank' class='athlete-link'>Benjamin Savsek</a> European champion 2019

Canoe Slalom
Extreme Canoe Slalom