Germany's Hoff and Schopf face biggest test so far

Such is the depth in German men’s canoeing that you could put together any number of K2 1000 combinations and expect to have a better than average chance of winning a world championship canoe sprint gold medal.

Max Rendschmidt and Marcus Gross won the Olympic gold medal in Rio in 2016. Last year in Montemor Gross teamed up with the veteran Max Hoff to win world championship gold. It looked like the Germans had settled on the combination to take to Tokyo next year.

But then fate took its course, and with one door closing, another has opened. Illness kept the two time Olympic gold medalist Gross out of the boat for the start of this season, so Hoff turned to teenager Jacob Schopf to fill the void for the ICF world cups.

In Poznan the new combination looked electric, clearing out to win gold by more than two seconds.

“Jacob did such a great job in the national trials and we knew he is one of the fastest on our team, but it’s not that easy,” Hoff said.

“Just because you put the two fastest people together does not mean you’ll have the fastest boat, but from day to day it is getting better. We still have a lot to do.”

The pair could not repeat the performance a week later in Duisburg, taking silver behind the French pairing of Cyrille Carre and Etienne Hubert, but nobody was panicking. Hoff and Schopf have been named as the German combination to contest the K2 at next week’s world championships.

It’s a race that is shaping as one of the most open of the world championships. When Carre and Hubert triumphed in Duisburg, it was their first international race together. Carre is a big-race veteran, and the pair are expected to do well in Hungary.

“It’s very important for us to win here, and it is our first international race, so now we will have to see for the rest of the year and maybe next year,”Hubert said after the win in Duisburg.

Spain’s Francesco Cubelos and Ingo Pena came together after the Rio Olympics, and immediately made an impact with a world cup win in Szeged in 2017. They finished sixth at that year’s world championships, and then showed further improvement with a hard-fought silver at last year’s world championships.

Serbia’s Marko Tomicevic and Milenko Zoric won silver at the Rio 2016 Olympics, a breakthrough gold at the 2017 world championships, and then bronze in Portugal last year. They also won bronze at the 2015 world championships and are the ultimate model of consistency.

The other pair to watch are Australia’s Riley Fitzsimmons and Jordan Wood, former U23 world champions who finished a close fourth in Portugal last year and are still young and learning.

2016 RIO OLYMPICS

Gold: Rendschmidt/Gross (GER)

Silver: Tomicevic/Zoric (SRB)

Bronze: Wallace/Tame (AUS)

2018 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Gold: Hoff/Gross (GER)

Silver: Cubelos/Pena (ESP)

Bronze: Tomicevic/Zoric (SRB)

2017 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Gold: Tomicevic/Zoric (SRB)

Silver: Gelle/Botek (SVK)

Bronze: Spicar/Havel (CZE)

2019 WORLD LEADERS

Germany

Canoe Sprint
#CanoeSprint #icfcanoesprint