Olympic canoe slalom kayakers Mike Dawson and Luuka Jones have paddled to New Zealand’s finest results on the international stage at the latest world cup in Slovenia over the weekend.
Dawson, 27, and 25-year-old Jones both made finals in their respective K1 divisions, with Jones reaching the top-10 for the first time at that level.
It was the second final for Dawson, although his ninth-placing surpassed his efforts on the same Tacen course in Ljubljana nearly three years ago.
“I’m stoked to have reached the final again – I’ve had too many quick runs spoiled by penalties and it was great to put together a clean run in the semifinals,” Dawson said.
He qualified in eighth in the 63-boat field with a faultless 100.78sec run on the technically challenging Tacen course and dropped a spot in the final, after touching the sixth gate and earning a 2sec penalty.
German Fabian Doefler won by just 0.2secs, heading off Italian Andrea Romeo with a winning time of 97.12.
Jones stumbled in the final, with a faint touch on gate 14 throwing off her rhythm. She missed two of the next three gates and eventually finished in 10th in a strong field headed by Slovakian Jana Dukatova.
But her progress past the semifinal stage marked a major milestone, a week after finishing 12th at the first world cup of the year in London.
“Obviously the final didn’t go to plan but I had a clear semifinal and it’s definitely satisfying to be building some consistency at this level,” Jones said.
The Kiwi pair now move on to familiar water in the Czech Republic, where both have been based in Prague over recent seasons, for next week’s third world cup.
“It’s always tough racing in Prague because all the top paddlers know that course really well – I’m fired up to get there and get on the water and work on some of the mistakes I made this week,” Dawson said.