The world’s best paddlers were made to work hard in challenging conditions on the opening day of the ICF canoe sprint world cup in Poznan, with choppy water and gusty wind making life difficult.

New Zealand’s Lisa Carrington, Portugal’s Fernando Pimenta, Cuba’s women’s C2 and Poland's women’s K4 crew all followed up their good form from Racice last week with solid performances in Thursday’s heats.

Conditions are expected to worsen on Friday and Saturday, adding more challenges for paddlers who are looking for a solid hit-out and, in some cases, team qualification for this year’s ICF canoe sprint world championships in Canada.

Czech Josef Dostal sat out the K1 1000 in Racice last weekend in favour of this weekend, but the Olympic silver medalist was questioning his decision after struggling with Thursday’s strong tailwind.

“When I saw the conditions here, I thought I should have done the K1 in Racice,” Dostal said.

“A strong tailwind, for the heavy guys like me, these conditions are not good. But for me, this world cup is not important. Even the world championships, it is not a qualification for the Olympics, so it means that I can just enjoy myself, and that is what I will try to do.”

It was pretty bumpy on the outside lanes, and we had to deal with waves

Australia’s Thomas Green posted the quickest time in the K1 1000, while in the women’s K1 500 Rio 2016 K1 200 silver medalist Marta Walczykiewicz from Poland mastered the local conditions to post the fastest heat result.

Lithuania’s Henrikas Zustautas and Vadim Korobov were quickest in the men’s C2, while reigning world champions Nicolae Craciun and Daniele Santini of Italy also progressed safely to the final at the venue where they had their first major win.

“We had a good feeling, but the weather is not perfect and there was a big wave,” Craciun said.

“Nine years ago we won the European U23 championship here, and after nine years we are again here. We have paddled with other partners since then, but now we are definitely good together."

The Polish women’s K4 team followed up their world cup win in Racice last weekend by posting the fastest qualifying time on Thursday, while in the men’s K4 the reigning world champions from Ukraine showed they will be hard to beat this weekend with an impressive heat time.

Cuba’s Yarisleidis Cirilo Duboys and Katherin Nuevo Segura once again showed they are the most improved boat in the women’s C2, posting the quickest time, while Germany’s Lisa Jahn and Sophie Koch, fourth at last year’s Olympics, also won their heat.

“It was pretty bumpy on the outside lanes, and we had to deal with waves which made it pretty hard through the 500 metres, but we made it,” Koch said.

“We have been working together for a long time, so we feel pretty comfortable together. We both had little problems in the winter, but hopefully we can win medals this year,” Jahn said.

In non-Olympic events, Czech Martin Fuksa followed up his double gold medal performance at home in Racice last weekend with the fastest time in the men’s C1 500, while Poland’s Dominika Putto and Katarzyna Kolodziejczyk were quickest in the women’s K2 500.

Ukraine’s Anastasiia Chetverikova was fastest in the women’s C1 500.

The ICF canoe sprint world cup continues on Friday, with the first medals decided on Saturday.

Pics by Bence Vekassy

Czech Josef Dostal K1 1000 Poznan 2022

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