On the final day of the ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup 2 in Bratislava, Slovakia, Great Britain had five boats in action in the women’s canoe singles (C1) and the men’s kayak single.
Made up of up and coming development team paddlers and a couple of seniors returning to international duty, they acquitted themselves well and will have undoubtedly benefited from the experience on this challenging course, against world-class opposition.
The Scottish duo of Eilidh Gibson (Strathallan) and Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats) both qualified for the women’s C1 final and put down performances to be proud of.
Eilidh started extremely well and showed great boat speed to be up on first two splits. But a touch on gate 17 pushed her out of position, so she has to paddle back to gate 18 and then came in too tight on gate 22 to finish in sixth place with a time of 122.84 seconds.
It was a great effort from the 24-year-old, back racing on the international scene this year after a difficult period with a shoulder injury which saw her miss out on selection to the British Senior team the last two years.
A World Cup silver medallist back in 2014 and a member of the successful women’s C1 Team trio in 2016 and 2017, Eilidh was delighted be back amongst it this weekend and said: “I feel very proud of myself getting through the last year of rehab. A lot of my racing was really good and in the final today I up at the second split by 3.5 seconds. I just had two mistakes which cost a lot of time down the bottom, but in general I am super happy.
“Although Lee Valley is a hard course you end up knowing it like the back of your hand. Here is a different challenge. The water is a bit more inconsistent so you don’t know what you are going to get and then they put some really difficult gate combinations. You have seen across the classes people making big mistakes going down, but is always a great atmosphere here.
I am racing in Tacen next weekend and then I am going to make some decisions regarding my shoulder after that. I will take confidence from the good aggressive paddling I showed this weekend and I really like Tacen which is a good fun place to race.– Eilidh Gibson
Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats) was in her third international final of the season and again showed her growing confidence with every race. She picked up an early touch on gate 2 and then a 50 on gate 17 after a judges’ review showed her whole head not gone through the gate to post 176.34 seconds and finish in ninth place, once place ahead of her result at Lee Valley last weekend and her best ever World Cup result.
Earlier in the semi final Bethan Forrow was forced to do a rerun after some technical issues at the start. Although posting a slightly better time second time around it was unfortunately not good enough for a place in the final.
In the men’s K1 semi final, junior paddler Etienne Chappell put down a solid performance with just two touches to post 98.51 seconds and finish in 25th place in his first World Cup appearance.
Fellow Welshman, Ciaran Lee Edwards (Llandysul Paddlers), who had finished fourth at the British senior selection trials at Easter was also in the race. He picked up a touch on the final upstream gate to post 107.83 seconds and finish two places behind Chappell in 27th.
In the afternoon the action moved on to the exciting new discipline of Extreme Slalom.
Extreme slalom is a combination of all canoeing’s white water disciplines, with competitors racing in identical plastic creek boats. The excitement begins from the very start, with four competitors sliding off a ramp more than two metres above the water and splashing onto the course as one.
From there it’s a race to the first buoy, and it really is a case of anything goes as each paddler tries to steal an advantage over their opponents. As well as negotiating downstream and upstream buoys – with contact being allowed, there is a compulsory eskimo roll and a 360 degree flip.
Winning great Britain’s first ever medal in the sport last weekend, clinching gold, today 18-year-old Etienne Chappell from Cwmbran bowed out in the semi final, having first won his quarter final race.
Reflecting on the weekend’s racing, Podium Potential Coach, Greg Hitchen said: “The course has been really tough this week, but everybody has dealt with the challenge ahead of them in a really professional manner.
I am really pleased for those who have made the final. With only a week’s preparation on the water it is always a pretty tough ask, but I am sure they will all go away with some good learning’s from the experience.– Greg Hitchen, Podium Potential Coach
“It was particularly good to see Eilidh coming back and delivering in the final after time out with injury and Sophie continuing to make finals in her first season on the senior British team.”
The World Cup Series moves on to Tacen, Slovenia next weekend.
Women’s C1 Heats
Eilidh Gibson (Strathallan) – Final 6th
Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats) – Final 9th
Bethan Forrow (Lee Valley Paddlesports) – Semi final 24th
Men’s K1 Heats
Etienne Chappell – Semi final 25th
Ciaran Lee-Edwards (Llandysul Paddlers) Semi final 27th
Etienne Chappell – Went out in semi final
For full results: https://www.canoeicf.com/canoe-slalom-world-cup/bratislava-2019/results
Live stream and VOD also available from: https://www.canoeicf.com/