Elena Apel is taking her role as one of the public faces of next year’s ICF Canoe and Extreme Slalom World Championships in Augsburg very seriously.

Apel not only was one of the ambassadors for the official opening on Monday of the ticket sales for next year’s world championships, she also posted a very useful video on her Instagram account with instructions how to correctly pronounce the name of the official event mascot, a beaver called “Gustl”.

“It’s a Bavarian name and therefore difficult to pronounce correctly,” Apel said.

“So I had the idea to create a very short video clip to introduce our mascot to all the international athletes and how to correctly pronounce his name.”

By the way, Elena Apel is no longer Elena Apel. She is now Elena Lilik, after marrying ice hockey player Leon Lilik in August. It capped off an incredible year for the 23-year-old, who became a world champion and also won two silver medals at the 2021 world titles in Slovakia.

2022 is going to be big as well. The world championships in Augsburg will celebrate 50 years since canoe slalom made its Olympic debut, on the same course, at the Munich Games of 1972.

It’s incredible that the course I train on every day is the Olympic course from 50 years ago

It’s one of the oldest competition canoe slalom venues in the world, and is a favourite with athletes the world over. And it’s just undergone a major redevelopment.

It’s also Lilik’s home course. Not only does she get to train on one of the world’s most scenic slalom venues, but also one which has played such an important role in the sport’s history.

“I think it’s incredible that the course I train on every day is the Olympic course from 50 years ago,” Lilik said this week.

“I feel very lucky I don’t have to race the same distance as the competitors did in 1972, as back then the race course started far more upstream. This shows how our sport permanently undertakes development.

“Also I feel inspired by all the international athletes visiting Augsburg and also by the older generations and I hope to carry on inspiring the following generations.”

Lilik is already inspiring young athletes following her incredible results on a challenging Bratislava course at this year’s ICF world championships. On the Saturday only Olympic gold medalist and fellow-Augsburg paddler Ricarda Funk was able to go better than her in the women’s K1.

And then on the Sunday Lilik left the crowd and her fellow athletes stunned as she snatched gold in the women’s C1. Even her father and coach, Thomas, was lost for words.

But Lilik wasn’t finished. In the afternoon she again took on the best paddlers in the world, this time in the new Olympic event of extreme slalom. Only Australian powerhouse Jessica Fox was able to beat the young German.

In post-race interviews Lilik spoke of not only the excitement of becoming a world champion, but also of the possibility to defend her title on her home course in 2022. But as she reminded everyone at Monday’s launch, first she has to earn the right to compete for Germany at the world titles.

Only then will the pressure become real.

I basically grew up on this course

“At first I wouldn’t go as far as to think about the worlds, rather focus on the national qualification in May taking place in Augsburg as well,” she said.

“For me it’s very special to have the worlds at home, as I basically grew up on this course and made my first whitewater experiences on the Eiskanal.

“Also in general it’s a great opportunity to prove that sports in Augsburg is more than just football and ice hockey. Furthermore it’s a bonus to have my family, friends and home crowd with me and get the chance to inspire the next generation at home.”

Tickets for the 2022 ICF Canoe and Extreme Slalom World Championships are on sale now and can be bought from the official event page. The event will run from July 25 to 31.

Soft toy versions of “Gustl” the beaver, manufactured locally by the Augsburg Textile Museum as a fair trade product, will go on sale from next month.

Augsburg launch 2022 slalom world championships

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