Olympic champions Jiri Prskavec of the Czech Republic and Ricarda Funk of Germany wrapped up their final K1 world cup performances of the 2022 season with gold medals at Le Seu in Spain on Saturday.

In winning his second world cup race of the season Prskavec also locked away the trophy for overall K1 world cup winner of 2022. Australia’s Jessica Fox, despite not making Saturday’s women’s K1 final, had done enough with her four world cup wins this season to secure the overall women’s K1 title.

On the 30th anniversary of the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, when canoe slalom wasreintroduced to the competition programme, the Olympic channel witnessed some more greatcanoe slalom performances.

The start of the season 2022 was not what Ricarda Funk imagined it would be. She was outside of the final at the European Championships, and had to miss two world cups because of Covid, but things turned out well in the second part of the season.

Funk followed her successful defence of her ICF world title in Augsburg in July with gold on Saturday, holding er nerve to complete an error-free final run.

"I am super happy with my season. The first part of the World Cup did not go according to plan, because I had to miss out on two of the three first world cups because of Covid infection. I was sad, because it was unlucky timing,” Funk said.

"After this, winning the world championships, at home in front of family and friends, it was just amazing. I actually cannot believe my time. It was a difficult course and I was really unsure about the spin gates.

“The pressure was there. I had no energy left at the finish. I was really giving all into it. I definitely need a rest."

The German champion produced a super run and was almost four seconds faster than all the other finalists. Camille Prigent from France was 3.89 seconds behind, and Monica Doria Vilarrubla from Andorra was third.

Australian Fox, who came to La Seu with a perfect score of four wins in four races in the 2022 World Cup series in kayak, did not have the best day and was just outside the final in 11th. But this did not affect her overall World Cup win.

Fox finished the season with 304 points, Mallory Franklin from Great Britain was second with a total of 217 points and Tereza Fiserova of Czech Republic was third in the final standings with 214 points.

In the men's kayak final, the best kayaker of the world cup season - Jiri Prskavec from Czech Republic - did not allow for any surprises. Despite a touch on gate 22 he still finished the race in first position.

"The course was very difficult, from right to left. The moves were really hard,” Prskavec said.

“I put down a really really good run, until the last spin where maybe I wanted to speed up things too much. I had one touch there, but still I was the fastest.”

This was the second world cup win for Prskavec outside Prague, following his celebration earlier in the season at a world cup in Ljubljana - Tacen.

Slovenian Martin Srabotnik repeated his success from the world cup in Ljubljana back in June and won his second world cup medal in his career. Czech Vit Prindis picked up the bronze medal.

Prskavec collected 317 points in five world cup races which brought him the overall win for the third time (2018, 2019, 2022). It is the fifth consecutive time a Czech kayaker has won the overall world cup standings, with Prskavec and Vit Prindis dominating the event in the past seasons.

"It's the best way to end the world cup season. Taking the overall win means a lot. I am really happy,” Prskavec said.

“My worst result this year was fifth place. Unfortunately, it was at the world championships, so I was a little disappointed. Overall, it was a nice season.”

Prindis, the 2021 overall winner, this time finished second in the standings with 252 points, and Slovenian Peter Kauzer, who was the overall winner in 2009, 2011 and 2015, was third.

On Sunday, the 2022 canoe slalom world cup series will finish with canoe semi-finals and finals and extreme slalom.

Words: Nina Jelenc. Pics: Balint Vekassy

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