Aussie slalom stars set for World Cup opener
19 June 2015
CANOE-SLALOM: More than 300 athletes from 45 countries will contest the first of five ICF slalom World Cups in Prague, Czech Republic from 19 to 21 June.
Nine Australians will feature among a world class field, with racing set to get underway on Friday from 5pm AEST.
This year’s World Cup series will be pivotal to the Australian team, as they provide a launching pad leading in the World Championships in September, where Olympic quotas can be secured.
Reigning women’s K1 and C1 world champion Jessica Fox has spent to lead in to the opening world cup training in London, and is looking forward to her return to racing.
“I'm excited to get back into racing on the international stage,” Fox said.
“Prague is one of my favourite courses and it's always one of the toughest world cups because everyone is good there.”
“I'm keen to get back on that course and get the feel for it again, test myself at the race and see how I’m going compared to the other top girls.”
Joining Fox to contest the women’s K1 and C1 events will be NSWIS pair Rosalyn Lawrence and Alison Borrows.
Lawrence enters this world cup as the reigning C1 gold medalist in Prague.
However, her focus this year is on improving her K1 to give her the best chance of rivalling Fox for a place in Rio.
“I've been focusing on K1 and I've made some improvements in my style that I think will pay off in these coming World Cup races,” Lawrence said.
“I still feel comfortable in my C1 and I'm looking forward to seeing how the other girls have improved since last year.”
The Australian women will face some stiff European competition in the form of Austrian Corinna Kuhnle, Olympic champion Emilie Fer and local Czech favourite Katerina Kudejova.
Australian Open champion Lucien Delfour will lead the men into battle and will be amongst the frontrunners in the K1 event.
The 2014 worlds finalist will feature strong competition from local favourites Jiri Prskavec and Vavrinec Hradilek, German pair Hannes Aigner and Sebastian Schubert, and world champion Boris Neveu of France.
Joining Delfour to race the K1 will be Victorian Jaxon Merritt and Tasmanian Daniel Watkins.
Watkins made his world cup debut in 2014, with his best result coming in Tacen when he finished 35th in the semifinals.
The 19 year old is aiming to reach the semifinals in Prague.
“I really want to make the semifinal then race a good semifinal,” Watkins said.
“I'd be happy with a good feeling run with only a few small mistakes and then I'll find out after how that places me.”
Rounding out the Australian line-up will be Western Australian Robin Jeffery, and Penrith pair Ethan Hodson and Ian Borrows in the C1 men’s event.
Little separates the three Australians, with the race wide open to secure the C1 seat in Rio.
This year Hodson and Jeffery will focus solely on the C1 event, with no Australian boats to contest the C2.
Borrows consistently made the semifinals at each of the World Cups in 2014 and will be looking to take the next step and reach a final this year.
Rounding out an impressive international field at the opening world cup will be British canoeist David Florence, Slovakian duo Matej Benus and Alexander Slafkovsky, and German Sideris Tasiadis.
Racing gets underway on Friday from 5pm AEST.
Friday Schedule (AEST):
5:00pm – C1M Heat first run (Ian Borrows/Robin Jeffery/Ethan Hodson)
6:07pm – C1W Heat first run (Jessica Fox/Rosalyn Lawrence/Alison Borrows)
6:53pm – K1M Heat first run (Lucien Delfour/Jaxon Merritt/Daniel Watkins)
8:30pm – C1M Heat second run (Ian Borrows/Robin Jeffery/Ethan Hodson)
9:18pm – C1W Heat second run (Jessica Fox/Rosalyn Lawrence/Alison Borrows)
10:40pm – K1M Heat second run (Lucien Delfour/Jaxon Merritt/Daniel Watkins)
11:45pm – K1W Heat first run (Jessica Fox/Rosalyn Lawrence/Alison Borrows)
1:30am – K1W Heat second run (Jessica Fox/Rosalyn Lawrence/Alison Borrows)