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Tight margins deny Brits on day four of Slalom World Champs

A sell out crowd of more than 8000 spectators roared the world’s best canoe slalom paddlers down the historical Augsburg course on the fourth day of the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships.

Kimberley Woods K1 Final Augsburg

Daubed the Ice Canal, the 1972 Olympic course though is notoriously unforgiving and today proved the case for the Brits on the K1 finals day.

Kimberley Woods was the sole finalist for Great Britain after a composed semi-final run this morning saw her qualify in sixth place to her first kayak final of the season - and her first ever on this course.

Kimberley’s clean run of 109.31 in the semi-final secured her spot and she was fifth out of the start gate.

A cautious start in the tricky River Lech waters, Kimberley was only just off the early pace.

But with the turbulent waters, being on the wrong side of the fluid lines means it’s tricky to get back on track.

An unplanned spin on gate 10 meant Kimberley had to work hard for the bottom half of the course.  She wasn’t quite able to cover the gap in the difficult bottom section of gate 21 to the upstream gate 22, but she adapted well and made the most of the water to make up as much time as she could to finish strongly.

She crossed the line in 114.93 and while she was pleased with putting down another clean run, she was disappointed not to have finished further up the field.

The 2021 world bronze medallist said: “I knew I had to be clean to progress to the next round but I am disappointed though, especially having come here as a medallist last year.

“It’s my first final in the kayak this year and I’m happy to be in that final but I’m disappointed with the performance.

“It was hard but I stuck it out everywhere and I never thought the race was gone. It felt really messy and wet in places, but there were some positive elements - my gate 14 was sick!

“I’ve just got to refuel now and go again in the Extreme Slalom this afternoon.”

Kimberley was also the top finishing Brit in the Women’s Extreme Slalom time trials, closing off a positive day for the Rugby paddler. She finished in 7th place overall.

An uncharacteristic mistake in the K1 semi-final from Mallory Franklin cost her a finals place.  Carrying great boat speed into the second checkpoint, she was forced offline by the ferocious waters and ultimately travelled downstream through the red upstream gate 18.

The subsequent 50 second penalty meant she finished in 26th overall.  She went onto finish in 67th place in the extreme kayak.

20220730 02230 Augsburg

Birthday boy Chris Bowers missed out on a spot in his first senior K1 final by an agonising 0.12 seconds. 

Having put down one of the few clean runs in the men’s field he also put down the fastest time. But as one of the first paddlers to go this morning, and with the majority of the field still to go, it was an anxious wait for the Stafford and Stone man as he had to sit  with 31 paddlers still to go.

Sitting just within the top ten, the final was in touching distance for Chris with the semi-final coming to a close, but with the last three paddlers coming the form of  Jiri Prskavec, Giovanni De Gennaro and Vit Prindis, sadly he was on the wrong side of the cut and he finished in 11th place - his highest ever finish position at a senior Worlds.

Chris was also in action in the Extreme Slalom this afternoon. In a closely contested time trial he finished in 37th overall.

Also in the K1 compatriot Joe Clarke had put himself in contention in the first half of the course, but a touch at gate 12 and a mistake towards the bottom gave him too much to do.  He had some of the fastest splits at the top of the course, he admitted that he could’ve afforded one or the other but not both. He finished in 16th place. 

Joe was back with avengence, however, in the Extreme Slalom time trials. As reigning World Champion he was one of the last paddlers to go. He set a blistering pace over a second fastest than the rest of the field and he was pumped to get the chance to defend his title.

He said: 

Bradley Forbes-Cryans blasted out of the start of his K1 semi-final and again was within touching distance of the standard set by the eventual winner two-time World Champion Peter Kauzer. However, he too was caught by the unpredictable course and having been in the running to put down the fastest time, a costly paddle back and touch at gate 20 meant he ultimately finished in 29th place.

Bradley narrowly missed the top 20 cut in the Extreme Slalom time trials, finishing in 24th place by a margin of less than 0.3 seconds.

Nikita Setchell and Megan Hamer-Evans were also in action in the extreme slalom heats this afternoon.

Nikita, who recently defended her U23 World Championship title, qualified 10th fastest for tomorrow’s finals alongside Kimberley in 7th.

With the top 20 and next best 12 prioritised by country, sadly Megan who finished in 26th overall, will miss out. 

In the Men’s event, Ben Haylett put in a solid run to clock a time of 66.75 to finish in 30th place overall.

Canoe Slalom Performance Director Mark Ratcliffe reflected on the days racing, and the close margins at this venue.

He said: "We had a few runs that were just on the wrong side of it today and we have to remember that everyone is here to do their absolute best, and you feel for them when it doesn’t go their way.

"We were pretty close to a few more finals there. Joe was close but got the touch and a mistake at the bottom was tough for him because he had the pace. And Chris Bowers, he’s not had the smoothest of runs throughout the World Cup Series at times but he’s really showing his potential and today he has put down one of the best runs he’s done this season and it was only the last boat that costed him getting into the final.

"It was also a real shame for Mallory, that simple mistake in the middle cost her – it’s so tough under pressure.

"I’m really pleased for Kimberley, she’s had a bumpy season in kayak so to bounce back and have a final today and some brilliant padding in the semi-final was superb.

"Nikita has done fantastically there to come in tenth, when you look at how many are in the field. Kimberley also getting through in the top ten is great.

"In the Men's Extreme Slalom there was an outstanding run from Joe, over a second up, he’s really showing his pace. The other guys were just on the wrong side of the margin there, Bradley and Chris and Ben who has bounced back to deliver a really good run today.

Tomorrow the canoe teams will return to the arena as the semi-finals for both men and women gets underway from 0800 BST.

There are four medals to be contested as the finals of the Extreme Slalom closing out the competition.

You can watch all the action live on the International Canoe Federation homepage:

Or you can follow the live results here:

Day five schedule:

Women's C1 semi-final

0811 BST Sophie Ogilvie (CR Cats)

0845 BST Kimberley Woods (Rugby)

0857 BST Mallory Franklin (Windsor)

Men's C1 semi-final

0922 BST Ryan Westley (Lower Wharf)

0952 BST Adam Burgess (Stafford & Stone)

1035 BST Women's C1 Final

1112 BST Men's C1 Final

1400 - 1605 Extreme Slalom Finals

1418 Heat 7 Nikita Setchell (Holme Pierrepont)  & Kimberley Woods (Rugby)

1424 Heat 1 Joe Clarke (Stafford & Stone)

Day Four results:

Women’s K1 Finals

Kimberley Woods (Rugby) - 9th 

Women’s K1 semi-finals

Kimberley Woods (Rugby) 6th, progresses to final

Mallory Franklin (Windsor) 26th overall

Men’s K1 Semi-final:

Chris Bowers (Stafford & Stone) 11th

Joe Clarke MBE (Stafford & Stone) 16th

Bradley Forbes-Cryans (CR Cats) 29th


Women’s Extreme Slalom Time Trials

Kimberley Woods (Rugby) 7th -progresses to heats

Nikita Setchell (Holme Pierrepont) 10th - progresses to heats

Megan Hamer-Evans (Seren Dwr) - 26th 

Mallory Franklin (Windsor) 67th 

Men’s Extreme Slalom Time Trials

Joe Clarke (Stafford & Stone) - 1st  progresses to heats

Bradley Forbes-Cryans (CR Cats) - 24th

Ben Haylett (Holme Pierrepont) - 30th

Chris Bowers (Stafford & Stone) - 37th