Gate placement has made an already challenging course even more difficult for canoe slalom athletes competing in the second ICF world cup beginning in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Friday.

The Bratislava course is famous for a steep drop which the athletes call ‘Niagara’ near the end of the run. But course designers have chosen not to make that section of the run any more difficult.

What they have done is put several tough gates together near the top of the course which will provide early challenges for even the most experienced paddlers.

Athletes walking the course on Thursday night agreed the course was tough, but many said they were looking forward to the chance to prove themselves in the most challenging conditions.

“This course has some pretty tricky stoppers, so its pretty easy to set a technical course,” Australian paddler Ros Lawrence said.

“And that’s what they’ve done. There’s a bit of a ‘back-off’ move at the top on the first group of stoppers, and I think that will really sort people out.

“I think there will be some interesting paddling there. It’s a creative course, but not necessarily a good one for reckless paddling.”

Lawrence said the first three world cups in 2019 – Lee Valley in London, Bratislava and Tacen in Slovenia next weekend, are regarded as some of the toughest slalom courses in the world.

But she said athletes enjoyed the challenge of taking on the elements.

“They are a lot of fun, and I think the people who will rise to the challenge and enjoy paddling on such technical and fun water will do well.”

The second ICF canoe slalom world cup begins in Bratislava on Friday.

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