Olympians set an early mark ahead of season 2019

Rio 2016 gold medalist Maialen Chourraut began 2019 in red-hot form as some of the world’s best whitewater paddlers took to the water on the weekend ahead of an action-packed season which will include qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The Pyrenees Cup in Pau, France, and a European canoe slalom cup race in Markkleeberg, Germany, gave an early taste of what’s to come in 2019, while the best wildwater paddlers tested their April form at the first wildwater canoe sprint European Cup in Skopje, North Macedonia.

German paddlers made the most of the familiar conditions in Markkleeberg, with the ultra-consistent Ricarda Funk smashing her rivals by more than six seconds in the K1.

Czech Amalie Hilgertova was second, while Anna Faber from Germany was third, more than ten seconds slower time than Funk.

Much tighter was the men’s canoe final where Olympic medallist Sideris Tasiadis (GER) won in front of reigning world champion and fellow German, Franz Anton, who was only 0.38 seconds behind. Lennard Tuchscherer finished third, 0.72 seconds behind Tasiadis, for a complete German podium.

The fastest paddler in men’s kayak was Stefan Hengst, who was 2.38 seconds faster than current world champion Hannes Aigner (GER). Vit Prindiš from the Czech Republic finished the final in third position.

Jasmin Schornberg (GER) was the best in women’s canoe event. She crossed the finish line 0.41 seconds faster than Martina Satkova from the Czech Republic, with Alexandra Stach from Poland in third place. Stach was actually the fastest but picked up four penalty seconds on the way which pushed her to third position.

In Pau, Rio 2016 gold medalist Maialen Chourraut, of Spain, sent out an early season warning for her competitors, taking the women’s K1 by more than four seconds.

France’s Lucie Baudu took second, with Russia’s Ekaterina Perova third.

It was a Swiss quinella in the men’s K1, with Martin Dougoud finishing exactly one second ahead of his teammate, Lukas Werro. Portugal’s Antoine Launay finished third.

Czech Jiri Prskavec and Australia’s Lucien Delfour were the fastest men on the course, but penalties cost them dearly, pushing them back to fifth and 10th respectively.

In women’s canoe, France’s former world junior champion, Lucie Prioux, took the gold ahead of teammate Claire Jacquet. A two-second penalty robbed Jacquet of a chance of the gold, putting her 0.33 seconds behind Prioux. while four seconds in penalties sliiped Andorra’s Monica Doria Vilarrubla from a possible gold to the bronze medal position, 0.51 seconds behind the winner.

Three-time Olympian Ander Elosegi began his quest for a possible fourth Olympics with a win in the men’s C1. The Spaniard finished 2.76 seconds ahead of Italy’s Roberto Colazingari, with France’s Pierre-Antoine Tillard third.

In Skopje, the men’s K1 final of the ECA Wildwater Sprint Canoeing European Cup on the Treska River Sreten Biljić from Serbia produced the fastest time to win the race in front of Bosnian kayaker Dušan Mačkić.

The race was very tight as the second placed Dušan Mačkić finished only 0.05 seconds behind, and Marko Marjanović from Serbia was third, just 0.08 seconds behind the winner.

In men’s C1 Luka Obadić from Croatia finished the race with a time 46.53. His teammate Jadran Zonjić, who was second, produced half a second slower time, while Pavle Zdravković from Serbia in third place crossed the finish line 0.72 seconds behind Obadić.

Luka Obadić reached the highest podium position also in C2 together with Ivan Tolić. Pavle Zdravković and Ognjen Dimitrijević from Serbia were second, and Croatian duo Jadran Zonjić – Antonio Obadić finished third.

In women’s kayak final Croatian paddler Maja Štimac won in front of Serbian representative Elena Petrović, while in women’s C1 this time only Croatian paddler Alba Zoe Grizin took part in the competition.

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