Race for world cup glory wide open ahead of Prague final

The race for individual 2019 world cup canoe slalom titles remains wide open heading into this weekend’s final in Prague, with double points up for grabs in what promises to be a thrilling finale to the five-race season.

All of the 2018 champions are still in the running to defend their titles, with Czech Jiri Prskavec currently leading the K1 standings, Slovakia’s Alexander Slafkovsky third in the men’s C1, and Australia’s Jessica Fox, the reigning women’s C1 and K1 title holder, currently leading the C1 and sitting fourth in the K1.

Prskavec has once again enjoyed a consistent season without winning any gold medals. His last world cup gold was in September 2016, but the diminutive Czech rarely finishes off the podium, and almost always makes the finals.

He currently has 199 points off the back of a silver and two bronze medals this year, with Slovenia’s Peter Kauzer second on 178 points. He has finished on the podium only once this year, a silver medal on his home course in Tacen.

Czech Vit Prindis, who broke through for his first world cup gold medal for two years on Sunday in Markkleeberg, sits third on 152. Prindis was the overall world cup winner in 2017.

With 120 points available for the winner in Prague this weekend, technically any of the athletes currently sitting in the top 20 could take gold. Australia’s Lucien Delfour, on 83 points, picked up his first world cup medal, a silver, on the weekend and currently ranks 20th.

In the women’s K1, a win for Austria’s Corinna Kuhnle at the second world cup in Bratislava has helped her to the top of the leaderboard on 180 points, 15 ahead of Markkleeberg winner Ricarda Funk of Germany and Slovenia’s Eva Tercelj.

Kuhnle was the world cup champion in 2014 and 2015, and is in the box seat to take her third overall title.

Funk has not finished off the podium this year, but missed the third world cup in Tacen. That was the event where Tercelj finished second, her best result of 2019 so far. Last year’s winner, Jessica Fox, has a silver and bronze medal this year and 158 points, putting her fourth overall.

Fox is in a  better position to win her third consecutive women’s C1 world cup title, holding a commanding 47-point lead heading into the final weekend. The Australian has had a win and two thirds this year to accumulate 192 points, with Brazil’s Ana Satila sitting third on 145 points.

Austria’s Viktoria Wolffhardt is fourth on 136, just ahead of Germany’s Andrea Herzog on 134.

Slovenia’s Luka Bozic, a silver medalist in Markkleeberg and bronze medalist in Bratislava, leads the men’s C1 on 187 points. Slovakia’s Matej Benus is second on 169, while teammate Alexander Slafkovsky, who picked up his first world cup gold medal for more than three years on Saturday, sits third on 161.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist, Michal Martikan, is just one point behind his Slovakian teammate on 160.

In extreme slalom, American Ashley Nee appears to have a stranglehold on the women’s competition, with 205 points overall, 90 points ahead of Germany’s Caroline Trompeter on 115, with Russia’s Daria Kuznetsova another 20 points back on 95.

Great Britain’s Etienne Chappell has picked up two extreme slalom gold medals this year, the latest in Markkleeberg on Sunday, and finds himself leading all comers on 145 points.

Italy’s defending world champion, Christian de Dionigi, sits second on 135 points, while 2017 world champion, Vavrinec Hradilek of the Czech Republic, is third on 124 points.

First place this weekend carries with it 120 points, second will pick up 110, while third is worth 100 points. All athletes finishing in the semi-finals at least will get double points.

The full world cup standings heading into this weekend’s final can be found here.

Austria Corinna Kuhnle K1 Bratislava 2019

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