Reigning wildwater sprint world champions did not have it all their own way on the opening day of the ICF world championships in Treignac, France, with several needing to rely on second runs to progress to this weekend’s finals.

Five-time men’s K1 world title holder Nejc Znidarcic took two runs to book his place in Saturday’s final, although his second run was the fastest of the day on the beautiful Vezere River, while 2018 women’s K1 champion Manon Hostens of France and Czech 2021 silver medalist Tereza Kneblova both also needed to get back onto the water to earn their right to compete for gold.

Slovenia’s Simon Oven has never won a world championship wildwater sprint medal, but showed he is in the mix in Treignac by posting the fastest time in the men’s K1.

Although his time was bettered by Znidarcic on his second run, Oven said he is keen to make a statement after underperforming last year.

“I felt good, I had long strong strokes, so that was it,” he said.

“The course is not that hard, but if you make a mistake then you lose a lot of time and thenyou don’t have a chance to get a good result.

“I didn’t know what to expect this week because last year I didn’t have good results so I didn’t know what to expect, but for now I feel good.”

Italy’s Mathilde Serena Rosa and Cecilia Panato posted the fastest two qualifying times in the women’s K1, with just point 01 of a second splitting the teammates.

“It was pretty good, but not perfect because I was getting some waves in my face,” Rosa said.

“But I’m so happy to be here and have a really good race to go straight into the final, which was the object of today.

“This is a really good whitewater course, we love it here.”

A third Italian, Guilia Formenton, went even quicker in the second heat of the women's K1.

2021 world championship silver medalist Quentin Dazeur of France sat at the top of the leaderboard after the first round of the men’s C1, while Czech 4-time world champion Ondrej Rolenc squeaked directly into the final in fifth place.

Rolenc’s teammate, Matej Vanek, was second fastest.

“This race is so long, my arms are really sore now,” he said.

“But my race was good and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.  This is a good start for me, this is my favourite river.”

In women’s C1 Czech Marie Nemcova returned one of the strongest performances of the day to post a time more than two seconds quicker than the next best paddler. Italy’s Panato, the reigning world champion, qualified fourth fastest.

In men’s C2, Frenchmen Quentin Dazeur and Stephane Santamaria took the first step toward returning to the top of the podium for the first time since 2018 by posting Friday’s fastest qualifying time.

The three-time world champions edged out teammates Ancelin Gourjault and Nicolas Sauteur.

Pics by Bence Vekassy

Wildwater men Treignac 2022

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