After the huge excitement of hosting the opening World Cup event of the season at Lee Valley White Water Centre last weekend, the series moved on to Bratislava in Slovakia today, considered by many one of the toughest courses in the world.
Great Britain’s senior squad are now largely focused on training for the crucial World Championships at the end of September, which is the final Olympic selection event, so this week it gave many of the up and coming young paddlers a chance to gain more experience on the international stage.
Today’s heats in all four boat classes saw representation from the 11-strong British team and eight boats progressed to the semi finals over the weekend, despite some difficult gate placements and the searing hot conditions.
In the men’s canoe single (C1) it was Tom Abbott (Mold) who was the star of the heats for GB finishing in fourth place in a clean 95.82 seconds to go straight through to tomorrow’s semi final.
Both William Smith (Winchester & District) and William Coney (Llandysul Paddlers) had to contest the second run and despite posting faster times than the first time down the course, they couldn’t quite match the pace of their more experienced international counterparts. They acquitted themselves well but just missed the top ten cut finishing in 12th and 13th places respectively.
Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats) was the only member of the team in Bratislava to have competed in at Lee Valley last weekend, where she got through to the women’s C1 final. Competing in both canoe and kayak today, her new found confidence at this level was evident as she put down 106.58 seconds and despite two touches, qualified for the semi final in 18th place on the first run.
Megan Hamer-Evaers (Seren Dwr) and Amber Maslen (Independent) both had challenging first runs, clocking up the penalty points and forced to go again. Second time around they delivered their plans to much better effect, both going clean and with Megan fast enough to secure the required top ten spot to join Sophie in the semi final.
It wasn’t long before Ogilvie was back in action in the women’s C1 and along with fellow Scot, Eilidh Gibson (Strathallan), they cruised through to the semi final in fifth and fourth place respectively. There was also good news for Bethan Forrow (Lee Valley Paddlesports) who had been nudged out of the senior British team this year by Sophie. She demonstrated she still had what it takes and also went through to Sunday’s semi final in 10th.
Delighted to be competing back on the international scene, Eilidh Gibson said: “It has felt great to have a really nice run today. It felt controlled and super smooth on the water and I have not had one of those runs in a while. I just got to the bottom and was so proud to do that after a really tough few years, with my bad shoulder and then not making the team.
“I just want to go and do my thing and paddle to my ability and if I am true to myself that is all I can ask for.”
Also buzzing to be competing again this week, after making finals in her last two C1 international races, Sophie Ogilvie added: “It has been a big confidence boost that I can go out and consistently put down runs that are up with the big guys now. The kayak run set me off to a good start. I had two touches but a pretty solid run. Then my C1 run just all came together, putting down the second fastest time of the day in that class without the touch.
“I just want to go out now and have a bit of fun and see what I can do. If I put down the same sort of runs you never know what can happen.”
The men’s K1 heats concluded the day’s racing and there was good news for Ciaran Lee Edwards (Llandysul Paddlers) as he posted a fast and clean early run of 94.82 seconds to secure his semi final spot in 22nd place on first run.
Veteran Huw Swetnam (Eye Tee) and Extreme Slalom World Cup 1 winner, Etienne Chappell, fared less well first time down the course. But Chappell made a great comeback knocking 10 seconds off his original time to post 94.49 seconds finishing 8th and snatching a place in the semi final.
Huw Swetnam (Eye Tee) also gets things back on track with a clean 95.95 seconds but sadly it is not quite enough to see him through.
DAY 1 RESULTS SUMMARY
Men’s C1 Heats
Tom Abbott (Lloyds Register) – 4th and qualifies for semi final on Saturday
William Smith (Winchester & District)) – 1st run 32nd; 2nd run 12th to finish 32nd overall
William Coney (Llandysul Paddlers) – 1st run 27th; 2nd run 13th to finish 33rd overall
Women’s K1 Heats
Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats) – 18th and qualifies for semi final on Sunday
Megan Hamer-Evans (Seren Dwr) – 1st run 43rd; 2nd run 4th and qualifies for semi final on Sunday
Amber Maslen (Independent) – 1st run 49th; 2nd run 14th to finish 34th overall
Women’s C1 Heats
Eilidh Gibson (Strathallan) – 4th and qualifies for semi final on Sunday
Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats) – 5th and qualifies for semi final on Sunday
Bethan Forrow (Lee Valley Paddlesports) – 10th and qualifies for semi final on Sunday
Men’s K1 Heats
Ciaran Lee-Edwards (Llandysul Paddlers) 22nd and qualifies for semi final on Sunday
Etienne Chappell – 1st run 42nd; 2nd run 8th and qualifies for semi final on Sunday
Huw Swetnam – 1st run 45nd; 2nd run 14th to finish 44th overall
The action continues tomorrow (Saturday 22 June) with semi finals and finals in the men’s C1 and women’s K1 and you can follow it in a number of ways:
British Canoeing LIVE Blog: https://www.britishcanoeing.org.uk/live
For Live Results: https://www.canoeicf.com/canoe-slalom-world-cup/bratislava-2019/results
Live stream and VOD also available from: https://www.canoeicf.com/