Bradley Forbes-Cryans claimed a tenth-place finish in the men’s K1 final after a tough course tested the British team on the second day of racing at the ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup 2 in Markkleeberg, Germany.
Tokyo-bound Bradley Forbes-Cryans maintained his improving run of form by finishing tenth in the men’s K1 on a day of mixed fortunes for British Canoeing in Germany.
The 26-year-old had built on his 21st-place finish at the European Championships by narrowly missing out on a final spot last time out in Prague, and he had started this weekend positively by qualifying out of the heats in second.
A top-three finish in Saturday’s semi-final put Bradley firmly in contention for a medal, only for a 50-second penalty at the second gate in the showpiece to dash his podium hopes.
But having shown consistent pace and finishing as Britain’s top K1 boat, the world team gold medallist is confident his steady progress is a sign of good things to come at the Olympics this summer.
He said: “After the European Championships in Ivrea I was concerned. I hadn’t raced for a long time and when I finished quite far outside the top ten I thought I was maybe going to be off the pace all season.
“In those situations you can either adapt or die, and I think I’ve taken a lot of good learning from my racing so far this season. In Prague I was happy with my technical performance and then this weekend I’ve gone one better.
“I knew I’d made a mistake in the final, but all I could do was stick to my plan and keep going. The final result wasn’t exactly what we were looking for but to have two top-three finishes in the heat and the semi-final, and be the top British boat, is really positive.
“There are plenty of things to take from this World Cup. I think I can be confident with my pace now, and I’m going to really enjoy working on the final few steps in the lead-up to Tokyo.
“I’m really excited for the Olympics. I’ve got two weeks of hard training back at home now, and I can’t wait to collect my kit because I think that’s when it’ll all start to feel real.”
Elsewhere in the K1M Joe Clarke similarly fell to an unfortunate 50-second penalty - this time in the semi-final - finishing 32nd after powering through the heats in top spot, while Chris Bowers also missed out on the top ten in 17th.
In the women’s event Kimberley Woods was unable to emulate her fourth-place finish in Prague as both she and Mallory Franklin received 50-second penalties in the semi-final, coming home 26th and 30th respectively.
While Mallory will go again in the C1 on Sunday Kimberley’s sole focus is now the Olympics at the end of next month, and the 25-year-old insists she is in a good place ahead of a tilt at glory in Japan.
“I’m pretty gutted with the result because I would’ve loved a medal before the Olympics,” she said. “But I know I’m running smoothly and I’ve got the speed so I can take a lot of confidence from this event.
“I wasn’t quite on line in a few areas but I felt I kept it running smoothly. It was quite a tricky course, and although a lot of people say it’s similar to Lee Valley it’s very different in some ways.
“I can’t even remember the last time I got a 50-second penalty in a race, but even though I knew I’d got it I finished off strongly. Two years ago that might not have happened, so I’ll stay confident.
“Even though my runs throughout the year haven’t been perfect I’ve been able to stay head-strong, and keep pushing until the finish. I’ve learnt a lot over the last few weeks and I’m really excited to take that into Tokyo.
“I feel I’m starting to show my potential and prove that I do belong on that Olympic start line. There’ll be less people to deal with at the Games, but I know it will be a tough competition because the standard is very high at the moment.”
Chris and Joe returned to the water on Saturday afternoon in the time trial run for the men’s extreme slalom, finishing fifth and 16th respectively to put themselves in strong positions ahead of the finals.
Fiona Pennie made up for her K1 disappointment on Friday by finishing top of the rankings in the women’s extreme slalom time trial run, with Sophie Ogilvie coming home 14th.
While overall the day didn’t go exactly to plan Mark Ratcliffe, Head Coach for the canoe slalom team, was pleased with his squad’s efforts on day two in Markkleeberg.
He added: “We did really well in qualifying and the likes of Joe and Bradley had qualified for the semi-finals in first and second, so there were plenty of medal opportunities coming into today.
“We’ve come away with probably more 50s in a round than I can remember. We’ve just been on the wrong side of the margin on a few occasions, and that’s cost the team.
“It’s a challenging course out there. There are a lot of stoppers and I think it gets harder as you go down the course. It’s frustrating but the guys have shown medal pace across the last couple of days so we have to focus on the positives.
“Over the last two weeks we’ve been making finals and been in and around it. Those are the important things moving forward - and for the athletes going to Tokyo - so we just need to keep building.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how the guys get on in the C1 and in the extreme slalom tomorrow, and hopefully there’ll be some strong performances.”
Six of the nine-strong British canoe slalom team are set to feature on Sunday, amidst a feast of C1 and extreme slalom action. The racing gets underway at 0800 and can be followed on the below links:
Schedule for Sunday 20 June
Women’s C1 semi-finals
0800 Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats)
0858 Mallory Franklin (Windsor)
Men’s C1 semi-finals
0941 David Florence (Lloyds Register)
1033 Women’s C1 final
1110 Men’s C1 final
Women’s extreme slalom
Fiona Pennie (CR Cats) and Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats) - heats from 1345
Men’s extreme slalom
Chris Bowers (Stafford & Stone) and Joe Clarke (Stafford & Stone) - heats from 1417
Kimberley Woods (Rugby) - 26th in the semi-final 155.19
Mallory Franklin (Windsor) - 30th in the semi-final 209.02
Bradley Forbes-Cryans (CR Cats) - 3rd in the semi-final and 10th in the final 142.99
Chris Bowers (Stafford & Stone) - 17th in the semi-final 94.10
Joe Clarke (Stafford & Stone) - 32nd in the semi-final 141.59
Women’s extreme slalom
Fiona Pennie (CR Cats) - 1st in the trial run 74.25
Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats) - 14th in the trial run 80.88
Men’s extreme slalom
Chris Bowers (Stafford & Stone) - 5th in the trial run 71.84
Joe Clarke (Stafford & Stone) - 16th in the trial run 74.62