Top four look for world cup breakthrough in Prague

Four athletes who have not won a single ICF canoe slalom world cup between them have put down the quickest times on the opening day of finals competition in Prague on Friday.

But while Slovakia’s Jakub Grigar, Austria’s Nadine Weratschnig, Czech Katerina Kudejova and Great Britain’s Ryan Westley have not won world cups, they have previously won eight world championships between them, including Kudejova’s senior world title in 2015.

Kudejova was quickest in the women’s K1, ahead of Great Britain’s Kimberley Woods and Italy’s Stefanie Horn, and said she was happy to find some good form.

“I thought it would be really hard, that course, because I don’t like that downstream that’s really close, but it was easy,” she said.

“Yes I am surprised with my time, but I didn’t make any mistakes so it was good.

“I haven’t had a really good year, because the start of my season was really bad. But the last races were really good, so I’m hoping I will also be good for the world championships.”

Czech Katerina Kudojova Prague world cup final 2019

Jakub Grigar has experienced a long podium drought since he won two junior and two U23 canoe slalom world titles, but he reminded his opponents of his abilities with the quickest time in the men’s K1.

Prague is also an Olympic qualifying event for the Slovakian team, so the timing is good for the 22-year-old.

“I would say the last two or three years have been a little bit frustrating for me, I couldn’t really deliver what I wanted,” Grigar said.

“I was training well, but when I came to the race I was pretty disappointed after my runs. So I’m happy to have done at least one run that actually worked out for me.

“Hopefully I’ve found my style, and hopefully it will work for me on the next races as well.”

Czech pair Vavrinec Hradilek and Jiri Prskavec were second and third fastest.

Slovakia Jakub Grigar slalom world cup final Prague 2019

Great Britain’s Ryan Westley is also involved in Olympic selection this weekend for Great Britain’s men’s canoe team. He put the pressure on three-time Olympian, David Florence, and teammate Adam Burgess by posting the overall quickest time in the men’s C1.

“It certainly brings another level to it, but at the end of the day, the processes you go through are still the same, you are still effectively trying to win the race,” Westley said.

“Especially in Great Britain, with the quality we have got with David and Adam, you certainly know you can’t try and do anything different.

“It’s always strange not having raced for a long time, sitting on the start line after watching all the other world cups, you’re never sure how you’re going to stack up.”

Switzerland’s Thomas Koechlin was second fastest, and Italy’s Roberto Colazingari third.

Austria Nadine Weratschnig canoe slalom world cup final Prague 2019

Nadine Weratschnig was on the verge of winning her first world cup last weekend in Markkleeberg, but made a late mistake which cost her a medal. On Friday she again reminded everyone of her speed, qualifying quickest in the women’s C1.

“I’m not happy about my mistakes, and there were some lines I wanted to do better and in a different way, but in the end it was enough,” Weratschnig said.

“I really want to be fast for this race, because it will give me a good feeling for the worlds and the Olympic qualifications, so I’m really of a mind to race nice this time.”

Great Britain’s Kimberley Woods was second fastest, with defending world champion and world cup titleholder, Jessica Fox, third.

Great Britain Ryan Westley canoe slalom world cup final Prague 2019

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