Joe Clarke claimed his first World Cup medal of the season while five British boats made it through to the Extreme Slalom heats on an action-packed day in Pau.
The 2016 Olympic champion earned bronze in the men’s K1 with a run of 96.33s to climb to sixth in the final World Cup standings overall.
Having qualified quickest from Friday’s heats, Joe was last to go in the semi-finals and a time of 99.41s was enough to book his place in the final in eighth spot.
Out third in the final, the 28-year-old was 0.37 seconds adrift of early leader Boris Neveu after 15 gates but a flying finish saw the Stafford & Stone star hit the front.
He was surpassed by Peter Kauzer to sit second at the halfway stage and when overall champion Vit Prindis later set a new fastest time, Joe had a nervous wait with three boats still to run.
But none of the remaining trio could beat his time to leave the Brit celebrating a return to the World Cup podium for the first time since winning gold at Lee Valley in 2019.
It was a really tough course which was relentless from start to finish, so I’m really happy with that– Joe Clarke
“It has been a mixed World Cup season, with lots of ups and downs due to injuries. But it’s good to put a performance down as a stepping stone ahead of the World Championships in a couple of weeks and show what I’m capable of.
“I’m made up to come away with a bronze medal.”
Britain had two representatives in the overall men’s K1 top 10, which was rounded off by Chris Bowers after he continued his consistent campaign with a 16th-placed finish.
“A mistake at the bottom probably cost me getting to the final, which was a bit frustrating, but I’m happy with another clean run,” he said.
“I haven’t had the one standout result I might have had in previous years but I haven’t been out the top 17 all year, so it’s been nice to see that consistency through the season.
Hopefully if I keep building on runs like that it will lead me to a final and once you’re there, it’s anyone’s game.– Chris Bowers
Ben Haylett put down an impressive run in the semi-finals and took 24th on his World Cup debut, with a touch on the 21st gate the only blemish in a promising performance from the 20-year-old.
The women’s K1 semi-finals saw both Fiona Pennie and Megan Hamer-Evans put down clean runs but they weren’t enough to book slots in the final, with the pair finishing 18th and 21st respectively.
Both were back in action in the afternoon for the Extreme Slalom time trials and Fiona was in fine form, qualifying in second with a time of 64.27s.
“Before the start, you’re trying to figure out the fastest route to take and I decided to go for the up left, which seemed to be the quicker move,” said Fiona, who sits fourth in the overall Extreme Slalom standings going into tomorrow’s latter stages with double points up for grabs.
I’m really pleased to be second and it’s set up nicely for tomorrow with everything to play for.– Fiona Pennie
“In the K1, the bulk of my run was actually quite good and an improvement on so far this season, it’s just a shame I lost a few seconds between [gates] 18 and 19.
“But there are definitely some good reflections to take from it going into the World Championships.”
Fiona will be joined in tomorrow’s Extreme Slalom heats by Nikita Setchell, who was ninth in 66.61s, and Amber Maslen, whose 69.80s placed her 17th – Hamer-Evans was the unfortunate member to miss out after finishing 30th.
Nikita said: “I’m happy with how I went about it today.
“It was hard being one of the first off as you don’t get to see how others go about it. Looking back, I should have gone up left instead of right.
“But I had a good finish and it’s just nice to be getting experience on the senior circuit. I’m learning a lot and it’s all quite fresh.”
The men’s Extreme Slalom time trials saw Chris Bowers and Jake Brown qualify for the heats after finishing 12th and 16th respectively, with the latter delighted to advance on his second World Cup appearance.
“I had quite a detailed plan and managed to stick to it,” he said.
“I stuck to the lines pretty well and everything went to plan.
“I’ve learned a lot more this week leading into this race. There are still a few tactics to learn but in terms of the lines down the white water, I’m doing pretty well.
“I’m feeling really good about tomorrow and I’m excited to see how it goes.”
Ben Haylett missed out on tomorrow’s heats after finishing 26th while an early mistake proved costly for Joe Clarke as he ended outside the qualification spots in 39th.