Strong wind and a challenging course made life difficult for competitors on the opening day of the third ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup in Markkleeberg, Germany, on Friday, but despite one or two nervous moments the top competitors are all through to weekend action.

Multiple women’s C1 world champion, Jessica Fox, and Rio Olympic K1 gold medallist, Joe Clarke, were two of the athletes needing second runs to get through to the semi-finals in their event.

But Rio C1 gold medallist, Denis Gargaud-Chanut, was back to his best, qualifying first in 95.50 ahead of Slovenia’s Benjamin Savsek in 95.86.

“It was a good first run, I enjoyed the wind because I’m quite used to it in Marseille,” Gargaud-Chanut said.

“I think the course is just challenging enough. I was a little bit disappointed in Augsburg because I thought the course was a little bit too easy, but that is not why I did not succeed.

“I just like trickier courses like this.”

Fox made up for a 50-second penalty for missing a gate on her first run by posting a time three seconds quicker than the time posted by Spain’s Nuria Vilarrubla, on the first run of the C1.

“It’s quite challenging, and there’s a lot of stopper moves, and the first drop in the middle section, the water is moving really fast,” Fox said.

“When you’ve only got one blade it can be quite challenging, but stopper moves are also where a lot of time can be made.”

In the men’s K1 Germany’s Alexander Grimm gave the home crowd reason to cheer by qualifying fastest in 89.92, just ahead of Australia’s Lucien Delfour in 90.02.

Clarke was 34th after the first run, but was second quickest on the next run.

“It’s not the best of days, but to get through is the main thing,” Clarke said.

“To be honest, I’m still not feeling the best, still trying to build back up again after the Olympics. I had a long time off, and it’s showing in my paddling.”

Clarke’s Great Britain teammate, Mallory Franklin, continued her consistent 2017 season by qualifying fastest in the women’s K1, her time of 101.38 putting her ahead of last weekend’s Augsburg gold medallist, Ricarda Funk of Germany.

Funk picked up a two-second penalty to push her time back to 101.56.

In the men’s C2, local heroes Franz Anton and Jan Benzien took just a long enough break from organising this weekend’s World Cup to qualify fastest for Saturday’s semis in 102.61, ahead of the Czech pair of Ondrej Karlovsky and Jakub Jane in 102.78.

The third ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup continues on Saturday.

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