Writer: Nina Jelenc
The first medals of the 2018 ECA Canoe Slalom European Championships in Prague have been awarded. With much content for the Czech team and fans Jonaš Kašpar and Marek Šindler picker up gold medal in men’s C2 event. Austrian canoeist Viktoria Wolffhardt wasthe best in women’s C1 final and Slovenian Peter Kauzer was the fastest paddler in kayak final.
In the first final event of the championships and what might as well be the last major international race in this category ever as international federation removed the event from World Cup and World Championships programme and many of top athletes announced retirement, Czech duo showed they are at home at this course and did not allow any surprise.
.“I’m just really happy. It is our home town, we had our spectators, the run generally was really good and peak of our efforts,” said Kašpar. Czech duo announced their retirement after this championships, which was now confirmed by Šindler, “It is true, it is our last race. Weare ending with great result, so it’s great for us.”
Robert Behling and Thomas Becker from Germany picked up silver medal and another Czech crew Ondrej Karlovsky – Jakub Jane was third.
Austrian canoeist Viktoria Wolffhardt produced the best run in women’s canoe final. Youngpaddler, whose father is Slovenian and was a member of then Yugoslavian team, crossed the finish line with a big scream, “It was relief or happiness. I had some struggles on the course, I had a touch, so I was not sure if it is going to be enough. I was really really happy when I was first when I got to the finish.”
Mallory Franklin from Great Britain was second and young German paddler Elena Apel, dautghter of German coach Thomas Apel who is responsible for many successes of German kayak paddlers, was third.
The most anticipated race of the day was men’s kayak final with 15 paddlers on the start(ECA has a rule that 15 kayakers start in men’s K1 final, not usual 10). With Czech paddlers dominating the races here in Prague in the previous years there were expectations to see best Czech kayakers on the winner’s podium. But Peter Kauzer had a different plan. 2010 European Champion, 2009 and 2011 World Champion and Rio Olympics silver medallistproduced his best run ever in Prague to finish the race ahead of two Czech stars Vit Prindišand Jiri Prskavec.
“Before the final I was making jokes that I haven’t been in the final of the race in Prague since 2011. But today’s race was perfect. The run was what I was hoping for. I tried to copy the Czech paddling style and waited to see how it will all turn out. I am very happy,” said Kauzer.
After the individual finals we’ve also seen team races. In men’s C2 team event Germany finished the race ahead of Czech Republic and France. Great Britain celebrated a win in women’s canoe, France was second and Spain third. Czech Republic with Vit Prindiš, Jiri Prskavec and Ondrej Tunka picked up gold medal in men’s kayak race, followed by teams o fPoland and Slovenia.
On Sunday the championships close with the semifinals, finals and team events in K1W and C1M.
- Jonaš Kašpar – Marek Šindler CZE
- Robert Behling – Thomas Becker GER
- Ondrej Karlovsky – Jakub Jane CZE
- Viktoria Wolffhardt AUT
- Mallory Franklin GBR
- Elena Apel GER
- Peter Kauzer SLO
- Vit Prindiš CZE
- Jiri Prskavec CZE
- Germany (Behling – Becker / Anton – Benzien / Schroeder – Henze)
- Czech Republic (Karlovsky – Jane / Koplik – Vrzan / Kašpar – Šindler)
- France (Klauss – Peche / Scianimanico – Cailhol / Tillard – Gargaud Chanut)
- Great Britain (Mallory Franklin, Kimberley Woods, Bethan Forrow)
- France (Claire Jacquet, Lucie Prioux, Lucie Baudu)
- Spain (Nuria Villarubla, Miren Lazkano, Klara Olazabal)
- Czech Republic (Jiri Prskavec, Vit Prindiš, Ondrej Tunka)
- Poland (Mateusz Polaczyk, Dariusz Popiela, Michal Pasiut)
- Slovenia (Peter Kauzer, Martin Srabotnik, Niko Testen)