Americans April Zilg and Connor Baxter have won stand up paddling sprint gold at the ICF SUP World Cup in Oklahoma City, as both athletes strive for automatic qualification for next month’s world championships in Poland.

Zilg and Baxter started as red hot favourites in the hot Oklahoma conditions and led throughout to take the gold medals. Baxter, the 2019 ICF SUP sprint world champion, finished ahead of Hungary’s Daniel Hasulyo, with fellow American Jake Portwood third.

“At the end of the day I have a tendency just to paddle as hard as I need to, so I went in with that mindset,” Baxter said.

“We have a huge weekend, so I just wanted to stay in front, I saw I was in a comfortable lead, so I could take it down a level and save some energy for the technical and the distance race.

“It’s great to be the first. Daniel, myself – we’re going to be stamping our names on something that could potentially be huge in the next couple of years.”

Zilg is also hoping to accumulate enough points from the sprint, technical and long distance races in Oklahoma this weekend to earn her ticket for next month’s ICF world championships in Gdynia.

“I like to hit the ground running,” Zilg said.

“It felt great. It’s always a good sign coming off the Vaá World Championships a couple of weeks ago, a lot of travel, you never know how fatigued your body is going to be or how you are going to respond.”

Americans Katniss Paris and Kimberly Barnes filled the minor placings.

USA April Zilg stand up paddling world championships 2021

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