The 2010 ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup Begins in Prague this Weekend
This weekend marks the turn of Canoe Slalom to hit the International Canoeing Calendar as the first 2010 ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup kicks off in Prague, Czech Republic.
World's Best Meet for the First Time in 2010
Finally, fans from all over will be able see the world's best meet for the first time since their winter training. Most of the 2009 stars will be there to contest their titles. In the Men's K1, 2009 ICF Ranking winner Peter Kauzer (SLO) will be in attendance, as will third-placed Daniele Molmenti (ITA). In the Men's C1, the Estanguet-Martikan ding-dong will not be a feature this weekend. Tony Estanguet (FRA) won't be joining the World Cup circuit until La Seu at the end of June. But Michal Martikan (SVK), who placed second in last year's ranking, will be there in Prague to battle it out with Jan Benzien (GER) and fellow Slovak, Alexander Slafkovsky.
A Lot Could have Changed from Last Year
Over to the Women's categories, the K1 will be an exciting spectacle as the reigning World Champion, Jasmine Schornberg (GER) returns to prove her performance was more than a flash in the pan. In terms of the Ranking leaders, two Slovaks will be fighting for their first and second place titles. Elena Kaliska, last year's winner, and Jana Dukatova, last year's first runner up will be there. Talking about the upcoming season, Jana told the ICF “All of the world cup races will be held on the courses which I have raced on several times before. I have been successful on these courses in the past and I hope to be ready for the top places in the World Cup Series this year as well.” Concerning her main competition, Jana said, “It's really hard to say now, who will be the one to beat this season. I mean, it is quite early because the season hasn't started yet and I haven't had a chance to see how other girls improved. Everybody is working hard during the winter to be the best and that's why a lot could have changed since last year.”
Those Familiar and Those New to the Scene
Home girl, Stepanka Hilgertova (CZE) will be delighted to be racing in front of the home crowd. Winning her first Olympic gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Games, and making third place in last year's Rankings, Stepanka is not to be written off. Her experience of both competing and the Troja Course as well as the cheer of the crowd will make her a serious contender.
Australia's dominance of the relatively new Women's Canoe events will be in question again as Rosalyn Lawrence (last year's Rankings winner), Leanne Guinea (second placed) and young Jessica Fox (fourth placed) all return for the WC1 World Cup title. France's Caroline Loir (third placed) will be in Prague but just for the Women's K1, no Canoe for her this time.
As with Canoe Sprint, Great Britain's team is in super charge thanks to the upcoming London Olympic Games in two years time. Building momentum in Canoe Sprint, we could be seeing the same thing in Canoe Slalom. In their team is Beijing Silver Medallist, David Florence in the C1, he will compete with Richard Hounslow in the C2. Also to look out for is 2004 Athens Silver Medallist, Campbell Walsh, and the reigning World Champion Women's K1 team comprising Elizabeth Neave, Laura Blakeman and Louise Donington.
The Whitewater Centre (WWC) Prague-Troja is THE world-class all-season whitewater facility in the Czech Republic. It was built in the early 1990s and consists of various obstacles made of tires filled with concrete, concrete panels and wooden balks.
The Course in Numbers:
Width: 12-14 m
Drop: 3,6 m
Flow rate: 13-15 m3/s
Difficulty: WW 3-4
Heats begin on Friday with semi-finals and finals on both Saturday and Sunday. For the full programme and more information on the World Cup, visit the official event website www.slalomtroja.cz.