Jiri Prskavec knows the Prague slalom course probably better than any other paddler competing at this weekend’s ICF canoe slalom world cup. Unfortunately, that hometown knowledge may have cost him a medal in the men’s K1 on Saturday.

Just moments before the final started, Prskavec noticed the water had risen higher since the semi-final. He mentioned it to his good friend, Slovenian Peter Kauzer, who was about to head off on his final run.

Kauzer used that advice to adjust his run, wary some of the gates would be lower than he experienced just over an hour earlier. He was more careful, and while he wasn’t lightning fast, he was error free.

It proved to be good enough.

“Just before I started Jiri told me to be careful, because the water was higher. I have him to thank for helping me stay error free,” Kauzer said.

“The water was a little bit higher in the final, so to manage the run without a penalty was quite a challenge, but I managed to do it.”

Prskavec himself was unable to capitalise on his local knowledge, picking up a two-second penalty and finishing fourth. After the race he joked with Kauzer that he would be “coming for him in Tacen”, the Slovenian’s home course which will host the third ICF world cup in a fortnight.

Kauzer’s win is confirmation for the 38-year-old, if he ever needed it, that his decision to keep paddling until the Paris Olympics is the right one. Initially he was considering hanging up his paddle after Tokyo, but when that was delayed 12 months, making the Paris Olympic cycle one year shorter, it made sense to him to soldier on.

“I said if I was healthy and managed to do good results, I would keep on going, so this kind of run, a clean run, is what I’m searching for,” Kauzer said.

“Good enough to be on the podium, so while I can keep doing this, I will keep on going.”

It has been a long time between celebrations for Kauzer. Always regarded as one of the quickest on the water, but with a propensity to take risks that don’t often pay off, it was in 2018 that he last climbed to the top of a world cup podium.

That was also the last time he won in Prague – at the European Championships. After his result in Prague he’s happy to keep taking on the world, if only for two more years.

“But for sure this will be my last Olympic cycle,” he said.

“I still feel ten years younger, so I’m okay.”

Pics by Dezso Vekassy

Slovenia Peter Kauzer K1 Prague 2022

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