Mallory Franklin and Kimberley Woods ensured British Canoeing finished the ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup 3 in Ljubljana-Tacen on a high as they both won gold on the final day of competition.
Olympic silver medallist and reigning European champion Franklin made it back-to-back C1 gold medals for the first time, following her podium-topping exploits in Krakow last week. While Woods came through the Extreme Slalom heats and knockout rounds before producing a sensational performance in the final to claim a memorable World Cup victory.
Franklin, who stormed to K1 silver on Saturday, laid down a marker in the semi-final of the C1 with a time of 99.09 to qualify first for the medal race ahead of Germany’s Elena Lilik.
The 28-year-old then went even quicker in the final to knock American Evy Leibfarth off the top step, crossing in 96.52 to take the gold medal by 1.75 seconds.
And with the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships on the horizon, Franklin feels she is coming into her best form at just the right time as she continues to focus on the process.
“I had no clue what had gone on, I just really wanted to do the best I could and it was a struggle at times but I’m glad I got it out and stayed clean and got to the finish well,” said Franklin.
“It’s pretty cool [to win back-to-back C1 gold medals] especially on two courses that generally I’m not very confident on but I’m just trying to focus on paddling like I know I can, stay confident on my strokes and keep driving forwards and I’m really happy to have won again.”
She added: “The consistency is the thing that gives me the most confidence but I still think there is another level for me to reach. The plan now is to go home and do a block of physical training before heading out to the World Championships.”
Woods also made it through to the C1 final after qualifying in third place and she finished strongly to secure sixth place overall while Sophie Ogilvie was 13th overall.
In the men’s race, Adam Burgess showed excellent pace in his semi-final as he qualified in third place with a time of 87.02 - just 1.84 seconds off Slovenian Benjamin Savsek in first.
But a two-second time penalty on gate 12 in the final left him with work to do and he ultimately finished in ninth place, behind winner Alexander Slafkovsky of Slovakia.
Ryan Westley was also in canoe slalom action but a two-second penalty on gate 11 contributed to a time of 94.03 and he finished in 20th place overall.
The weekend’s action concluded with the Extreme Slalom and Kimberley Woods showed that she was the woman to beat from early on after coming through her heat and quarter-final in first.
The 26-year-old continued to dominate by winning her semi-final before completing the weekend on top of the podium after a thrilling final, edging out Austrian Corinna Kuhnle.
“I wouldn’t say I stayed out of trouble, the girls made it tough, but I’m really pleased as you can probably tell from my reaction,” said Woods after the conclusion of the final.
“It means a lot to close off a long three weeks with a gold medal and it was really cool seeing my name on the gold medal but I was really happy to have made my first final.
“I think a lot of people are learning from race to race, I know I am. This is my first full season trying the Extreme Kayak and I know the next race will be the World Championships. You have to be physically strong to try and get through and just to enjoy it, I really enjoyed it.
“It’s been an incredibly tough start to the season, I’ve struggled a little with my mental health and my confidence, finding the right steps towards a good performance but not quite getting it at each race. But I’ve been incredibly proud of how I’ve fought through every run to finish as high as I could and I will look to take confidence from my extreme slalom, ending on a high today, to take into the World Championships next month.”
Phoebe Spicer and Nikita Setchell were also in Extreme Slalom action for the women, with the former finishing fourth in her heat and the latter reaching the quarter-finals.
In the men’s Extreme Slalom, Christopher Bowers and Bradley Forbes-Cryans both reached the quarter-final stage with Joe Clarke finishing fourth in his heat.
Performance Director Mark Ratcliffe was pleased with another solid weekend of racing from the team.
“Mallory has been immense, week in, week out. To perform like that in both classes consistently on very different courses is really impressive.
“She’s overcome challenges in her runs and still come away with medals so she’s in a really good place for the rest of the season.
“Kimberley has shown great attitude through each of the rounds, with some fantastic performances, particularly in her heats and she was rewarded today with that result in the Extreme Slalom. She’s still learning Extreme but today she got all her tactics right along with some fantastic speed.
“A huge well done to the whole team for their efforts over the past three weekends. Being out at the World Cups is all about us maximising the opportunities to get start lines ahead of Paris 2024.
"I know everyone has maximised their chances to learn as much as they could and we will build on that as we prepare for the World Championships and beyond.”
Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats)- 13th in heats
Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District) - 1st and progressed to final
Kimberley Woods (Rugby) - 3rd and progressed to final
Women's C1 Final
Mallory Franklin (Windsor & District) - 1st
Kimberley Woods (Rugby) - 6th
Men's C1 Semi-final
Adam Burgess (Stafford and Stone) - 3rd and progressed to final
Ryan Westley (Lower Wharf) - 20th
Men’s C1 Final
Adam Burgess (Stafford and Stone) - 9th
Women's Extreme Kayak
Kimberley Woods (Rugby) - 1st
Nikita Setchell (Holme Pierrepont Canoe Club) - 4th in quarter-final
Phoebe Spicer (Lee Valley Paddlesports) - 4th in heats
Men's Extreme Kayak
Joe Clarke MBE (Stafford and Stone) - 4th
Bradley Forbes-Cryans (CR Cats) - 3rd in quarter-final
Christopher Bowers (Stafford and Stone) - 4th in quarter-final