Slovenians thrill wildwater home crowd

The 2018 Wildwater Canoeing World Cup series ended with night sprint finals under the flashlights in Slovenian town Celje, with plenty of medals for the hometown favourites.

The course does not offer much wildwater, but the loud crowds by the Savinja River made a night to remember for the top athletes. More than 100 boats from 17 countries took part in the last world cup race of the year.

To much satisfaction of Slovenian fans, Vid Debeljak and Nejc Žnidarčič won the gold and silver medal in men’s kayak event. Yannic Lemmen from Germany picked up bronze medal.

“I still cannot believe it, but it’s great! To win at home is really something nice," Debeljak said.

"Whenever Nejc starts the last you can be afraid. We needed to wait quite a long time between qualification run and finals, but we had a good preparation."

Tony Debray celebrated a double win in C1 and C2 events. He was the best in men’s C1 final finishing ahead of his C2 partner Louis Lapointe and Czech canoeist Vladimir Slanina. Debray and Lapointe were the fastest in C2. Santamaria and Dazeur from France and Slovak Olympic champions Pavol and Peter Hochschorner joined them on the podium.

In the women’s kayak final German Jill-Sophie Eckert took the win ahead of Melanie Matyhs from Switzerland and French representative Charlene Le Corvaisier. Anežka Paloudova, Martina Satkova (both CZE) and Cecilia Panato (ITA) were the fastest in women’s C1 final. In women’s C2 event there were only two crews on the start. Pauline Freslon – Lisa Lebouc from France crossed the finish line with faster time than Georgina Collin – Madison Wilson from Australia.

A day before the sprint events the classic race was organised on Sava River in Hrastnik, home town of reigning K1M canoe slalom European champion, former double world champion and Olympic Games silver medallist Peter Kauzer.

World Champion Martina Satkova from Czech Republic won the women’s K1 classic race and picked up a bronze medal in the women’s canoe event. Anežka Paloudova (CZE) and Melanie Mathys (SUI) joined her on the winner’s podium in the kayak event. In the women’s canoe race Cecilia Panato from Italy and Anežka Paloudova crossed the finish line faster than Satkova.

Louis Lapointe won two gold medals at the third world cup event of the season. In men’s canoe he produced the fastest time to finish the race ahead of Czech paddler Ondrej Rolenc and Slovenian Blaž Cof. In C2 Debray and Lapointe finished the race ahead of Stephane Santamaria and Quentin Dazeur (all France) and Czech duo Antonin Haleš – Ondrej Rolenc.

In the most anticipated event of the classic race reigning world champion in men’s kayak classic race Simon Oven won at the home course on Sava River. Experienced Austrian kayaker Gerhard Schmid finished the race in second place and Maxence Barouh from France was third.

Slovenian and French paddlers dominated the four world cup races, taking the top positions in overall standings. Slovenian kayakers took all the top positions. Simon Oven defended his overall world cup winner title from last year, Anže Urankar finished the series in second place and Vide Debeljak in third place.

All three top positions in Canadian doubles went to France. Debray and Lapointe were the winners, Santamaria and Dazeur were second and Ydoux and Sateur were third. In the men’s C1 category Louis Lapointe (FRA) took the overall win ahead of Blaž Cof (SLO) and another French Tony Debray.

In women’s kayak event Melanie Mathys (SUI) won in front of Anežka Paloudova (CZE) and Mathilde Rosa (ITA). Young Italian canoeist Cecilia Panato received a trophy for the best in women’s canoe of the world cup series. Anežka Paloudova (CZE) was second in the overall standings and Katarina Kopunova (SVK) third.

The Wildwater canoeing season has not finished yet, however. In August we will see the 2018 ECA Junior and U23 Wildwater Canoeing European Championships in Skopje, two senior Wildwater Canoeing ECA European Sprint Cups in Czech Republic, and five ECA European Wildwater Junior Cups also in Czech Republic.

Wildwater Canoeing
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