Reigning Olympic champion Jiri Prskavec and three-time Olympic medalist Jessica Fox topped the kayak qualifying times on the opening day of the International Canoe Federation’s Slalom and Kayak Cross World Cup in Prague on Thursday.

Fox will get the chance to make amends for a 50-second penalty which cost her a place in last weekend’s K1 final in Augsburg, after posting a qualifying time more than two seconds quicker than the next best paddler in Thursday’s heats.

The Olympic silver and two-time bronze medalist had an error-free time of 92.21, putting her 2.24 seconds ahead of Poland’s Klaudia Zwolinska, who is looking to finish on the podium this weekend after a frustrating weekend in Augsburg.

“I love Prague, I always feel like my runs here are fun,” Zwolinska said.

“I was really disappointed after last week. Too many times I finished fourth, so for me I’m ambitious, so I hope this was the last time that I finish fourth. I think my placing in Augsburg is a good beginning to the season.”

There were several big name athletes who needed to rely on second runs to progress through to Friday’s K1 semi-finals. Olympic gold medalist Ricarda Funk, her German teammate and Augsburg gold medalist, Elena Lilik, and multi-Olympians Ana Satila of Brazil and Corinna Kuhnle of Austria all secured Friday action with much-improved second runs.

Jiri Prskavec won a bronze medal in Augsburg, but in a C1, not the event where he won Olympic gold in Tokyo. On Thursday the Czech showed his love for his Prague home course, and his love for K1, by posting the quickest time in qualifying.

Prskavec finished in 83.31 seconds, 0.17 seconds ahead of 2016 Olympic gold medalist Joe Clarke of Great Britain, who posted the quickest taw time if 81.48 but attracted a two second penalty for a gate touch.

Australia’s Lucien Delfour goes into the semi-finals as the third fastest paddler.

“Racing in Prague is always pretty special, it’s always super tight, you really are not allowed to make mistakes, so that run was smooth,” Delfour said.

“I’ve felt good on the water during the past two days. Prague is quite a different course, but it feels good, the water’s flowing, it’s all fine.”

The first medals of the ICF Canoe Slalom and Kayak Cross World Cup in Prague will be decided on Friday afternoon, with finals in both the men’s and women’s K1.

Pics by Bence Vekassy

Australia Jess Fox Prague 2023


Canoe Slalom