Tokyo-bound athletes Marie-Zelia Lafont of France and Martin Dougoud of Switzerland tamed an unforgiving Pau canoe slalom course to win kayak world cup gold on the first day of finals action on Saturday.

Lafont and Dougoud were able to hold their nerve on a day when most athletes struggled. Only one athlete completed a clean final in the women’s K1, while only the top three men completed the course without a gate touch.

Lafont had one gate touch, but her final time of 106.57 proved quick enough to head off French teammate and Tacen world cup gold medalist, Romane Prigent, who posted a time of 110.55. Prigent also had a gate touch.

Ukraine’s Viktoriia Us showed the benefit of keeping a clean sheet by posting 111.92 to take the bronze.

Lafont’s only other world cup victory came on the same Pau course back in 2016, and she said it was a good finish to a year which also saw her qualify for her second Olympics.

“It’s special, even though the best are not here the French team is very strong,” she said.

“I was not too relaxed, because there are a lot of international competitors so I need to be prepared. But I am very happy with the way I am paddling.”

Dougoud, who will make his Olympic debut next year, had never won a world cup medal before this weekend. But by staying out of trouble he was able to post a time of 95.11, 0.74 seconds ahead of Czech Tomas Zima’s time of 95.85, with Argentina’s Thomas Bersinger third in 98.77.

Dougoud is based in Pau as he prepares for Tokyo, and said the home course advantage is important.

“I made some mistakes, but it was a good run,” he said.

“Last year I was a little bit stressed and made a lot of mistakes because of the Olympic selection. It’s really strange and really special, so maybe today I was more relaxed.”

The finals of the men’s and women’s C1 will be held on Sunday.



  1. Marie-Zelia LAFONT (FRA)  57 (2 seconds penalty)
  2. Romane PRIGENT (FRA) 110.55 (2)
  3. Viktoriia US (UKR) 111.92 (0)


  1. Martin DOUGOUD (SUI)   11  (0)
  2. Tomas ZIMA (CZE)  95  (0)
  3. Thomas BERSINGER (ARG) 98.77  (0)

Pics by Eric Traversie/FFCK

France Marie-Zelia Lafont K1 canoe slalom Pau 2020

Canoe Slalom