Nikita Setchell was crowned U23 extreme slalom World Champion after a string of dominant performances on the final day of the junior and U23 slalom World Championships in Ljubljana – Tacen.
In what was her first entry into an international extreme slalom competition, the 20-year-old saw off some tough competition across the rounds to win the gold medal.
Nikita couldn’t have got off to a better start to the day, storming down the time trials to post a 50.03 and earn the number one bib and the advantageous ramp position going into the heats.
From there, the 2018 Junior canoe slalom European Champion looked composed and powerful down the Tacen course, progressing through the heats and quarter finals with two first placed finishes.
The impressive afternoon continued as Nikita didn’t lose a round, working the first gate perfectly on every occasion to get ahead from the rest of the field, before navigating the remainder of the course unchallenged to take home the victory.
Delighted with her title, Nikita said:
It’s an amazing feeling to become the U23 World Champion. It doesn’t quite feel real at the moment.– Nikita Setchell
“There are a lot of rounds to get through and to win each one was huge and I’m delighted with that.
“I didn’t quite know what to expect going into the competition, I didn’t know what my pace would be like and winning the time trials was a big confidence boost.
“I’ve never been in a head to head competition before, it was certainly interesting. I tried my best with every round and that was all I could do. Being able to choose my position with each victory was massive.
“It’s great to get my first taste of extreme slalom. It is a massive adrenaline rush so it would be great to see where I can go with this side of the sport.”
Eight British boats took the Slovenian course to compete in the U23 Extreme slalom World Championships with five progressing beyond the time trials and into the heats.
Sophie Ogilvie, who has experienced the senior extreme slalom circuit a number of times so far this season, didn’t progress beyond her heat after a third place finish after an strong display in the time trials previously.
Lois Leaver made her way through the time trials, but was given an RLF in the second heat which removed any chance of getting into the quarter finals.
In men’s event, it was Jonny Dickson who progressed furthest through the competition. Fresh from his U23 Canoe Slalom men’s K1 silver medal earlier in the week, he posted a strong top five time in the time trials before working his way to the quarter-finals. He coasted through his first heat in first place, but fell in the next round after getting caught round the early gate to finish third.
Chris Bowers, who took has had a very successful week winning his first individual medal in the men’s K1, also made it through the time trials, but he got stuck amongst the first gate traffic and couldn’t make up the time to get into the top two.
Peter Linksted, Ben Haylett and Phoebe Spicer all posted strong times in the trials but it wasn’t enough to get them into their respective heats section of the competition.
Slalom Academy Lead Coach, Nathalie Siegrist, was delighted to see the team put down some fantastic performances across a hot week in Slovenia.
"It's been a fantastic week with a lot of successes. Being back on the international scene for the U23's was great after two years away. They showed that despite the lack of racing they came back ready to show how hard they have been working at home.
"It was impressive to see how they all performed and it was fantastic to win the four medals across canoe slalom and extreme slalom. Having all three men in the K1 final was impressive. In the C1 women, two athletes making the finals was great on a technical course that was difficult for C1. Nikita did excellent too particularly in that final.
"A lot of the athletes have only just made the step up to the U23 showing great potential and it was pleasing to see so many compete in the new age group and put down so fantastic runs.
"Going into the competition they were excited and a little nervous about the unknowns, but we had a lot of time on the course before the competition so it became clear they had worked hard over the last two years. We will certainly learn from this event and experience, and will work hard between now and the next race."