Shocks aplenty on opening day of European slalom titles

The opening day of the 2019 ECA Canoe Slalom European Championships in Pau, France, showed how unpredictable canoe slalom can be.

Numerous competitors who were considered favourites for the medals failed to qualify for the semifinal in men's canoe and women's kayak events. Kacper Sztuba from Poland was the fastest in men's canoe heats and German kayaker Ricarda Funk won in women's kayak heats.

In a surprising men's canoe heats, Polish canoeist Kacper Sztuba produced the fastest time to win the first stage of the 2019 ECA Canoe Slalom European Championships. He was 0.76 seconds faster than second placed Czech paddler Lukaš Rohan, while the 2017 World Champion from this course, Benjamin Savšek from Slovenia, finished the heats in third place.

Many top level canoeists had to start in the second heats run, including world and Olympic champions Franz Anton and Denis Gargaud Chanut.

The second run was very stressful for all as only top five places lead to the Saturday's semifinal. In the second run Russian paddler Kirill Setkin produced the best time of the day and he was more than half a second faster than Kacper Sztuba, the winner of the heats.

Sideris Tasiadis, Michal Martikan, Ander Elosegi and Miquel Trave also advanced to the semifinal stage. On the other hand the French favourite for the European champion title in this event, 2016 Olympic champion Denis Gargaud Chanut, World Champion Franz Anton, 2018 European Championships medallist Tomaš Rak, 2016 Rio Olympics silver medallist Matej Benuš and Italian Roberto Colazingari all stayed outside the places that lead to the Saturday's part of the championships.

In women's kayak heats defending European champion Ricarda Funk from Germany showed the best run to win the heats in front of 2016 Olympic champion Maialen Chourraut from Spain and Czech paddler Katerina Kudejova.

Like in men's canoe event, there will be some excellent names missing in the semifinal. Among them two times World champion and 2017 European C\champion Corinna Kuhnle, Slovak kayaker Jana Dukatova who came back after she gave birth last June, two times Olympic champion Elena Kaliska, Urša Kragelj, Camille Prigent ...

On Friday the championships will continue with men's kayak and women's canoe heats in the morning part of the programme and team races in the afternoon.

Livestreaming of the heats is available at www.youtube.com/CanoeEurope

Results: http://siwidata.com/canoelive/#/live/eca/1191

 

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