Eight British boats are through to the semi-finals on day one of the Junior and U23 Canoe Slalom ECA European Championships in Liptovsky Mikulas, Slovakia.
It was a strong start for the 12 athletes competing on the first day of the competition, with men’s C1 and women’s K1 for both the juniors and the U23s taking to the Liptovsky course.
A number of athletes were enjoying their first international competition of the season, whilst some of the team had already graced international waters as part of the World Cup series to gear up for the competition.
After competing for the seniors at World Cups 2 and 3 over the last few weeks, Megan Hamer-Evans (Seren Dwr) secured a semi-final spot with a strong run in the U23 women’s K1 heats. Despite a touch on gate 11, Megan showed a good pace and finished with a 103.68 as she looks to build on her two international medals in 2018.
Current junior K1W European Champion Nikita Setchell (Holme Pierrepont) too joined Megan in the next round of the event. Making the step up to the U23s this season after a successful selections in April, Nikita made it safely through with a good time of 106.31 which included a two second penalty and will look to make a stamp on the new age category. Sadly Gabi Ridge (Llandysl) failed to progress after missing gate 15 in the second run to take her out the running.
In the U23 men’s C1 event, Sam Ibbotson (Holme Pierrepont) and Will Smith (Winchester & district) will both race in Saturday’s semi-finals after navigating their way through the stacked heats.
Sam qualified through the first run, taking the final qualification spot in 15th place amongst a competitive line up, after posting a clean 98.36.
Will Smith, fresh from World Cup 3 in Tacen, too qualified to the next round through the second run, with a 98.86 including a touch on gate 17 being enough to make the top five and progress.
Three penalties from Peter Linksted (Stirling & Falkirk) during run two meant the Scottish paddler didn’t put down a quick enough time to make the next stage and will now turn his attentions to the U23 World Championships in Krakow, Poland.
A member on the 2018 senior team, Bethan Forrow (Lee Valley) put down a storming run in the junior K1 women’s heats to top the leaderboard and progress safely through to the semi-finals. Beth showed all the experience she gained on the senior circuit last year to post down a clean and fast run of 98.88, over three seconds ahead of her nearest competitor.
Also enjoying a smooth path into the next stages was Edinburgh Schools’ Lois Leaver in 11th. Despite three touches costing her six seconds worth of penalties, she showed the pace to compete with the top three and will take plenty of confidence going into the latter stages of the event.
It wasn’t to be for Ellis Miller (Lee Valley) who picked up three penalties during her second run to take her out of the running for the semi-finals.
Both making the British junior team for the first time, Kurts Rozentals (Stafford and Stone) and club teammate Alfie Boote (Stafford and Stone) were the final pair of the day to progress through to Saturday’s semis in the men’s C1.
One of the first athletes of the event to go down the course, Kurts had the long wait to see if his time was enough Kurts, but he took the 15th and final spot of run one to qualify after going clean with a time of 108.12. Meanwhile, Alfie fought back from the disappointment of eight penalty points in run one to take second place in run two with a storming run of 101.91.
James Kettle (Lee Valley) finished 26th overall on his first international as part of the junior British team, missing out on the top five during his second run.
Day two is the turn of the C1 women’s and K1 men’s events, with another 12 boats taking to the water.
U23 Women’s K1 Heats
Megan Hamer-Evans (Seren Dwr) – 9th and qualifies for semi-final on Saturday
Nikita Setchell (Holme Pierrepont) – 11th and qualifies for semi-final on Saturday
Gabi Ridge (Llandysl) – 1st run 27th ; 2nd run 17th to finish 32nd overall
U23 Men’s C1 Heats
Sam Ibbotson (Holme Pierrepont) – 15th and qualifies for semi-final on Saturday
Will Smith (Winchester & district) – 1st run 19th; 2nd run 5th and qualifies for semi-final on Saturday
Peter Linksted (Stirling & Falkirk) - 1st run 28th ; 2nd run 13th to finish 28th overall
Junior Women’s K1 Heats
Bethan Forrow (Lee Valley) – 1st and qualifies for semi-final on Saturday
Lois Leaver (Edinburgh Schools) – 11th and qualifies for semi-final on Saturday
Ellis Miller (Lee Valley) – 1st run 18th ; 2nd run 9th to finish 24th overall
Junior Men’s C1 Heats
Kurts Rozentals (Stafford and Stone) – 15th and qualifies for semi-final on Saturday
Alfie Boote (Stafford and Stone) – 1st run 17th; 2nd run 2nd and qualifies for semi-final on Saturday
James Kettle (Lee Valley) – 1st run 16th ; 2nd run 11th to finish 26th overall