New Zealand kayaker Mike Dawson has had a big boost before this month’s canoe slalom world titles, defending his crown in the European extreme race championships in Lipno, Czech Republic this week.
Dawson edged Czech athlete Michel Butchel in the final, after Butchel had beaten another New Zealander, Sam Sutton, in the semifinal on the Grade 5 Devil’s Extreme section of the Vltava River.
The 2012 Olympian was happy to collect the title for the second year running, especially after recovering from wrist surgery earlier in the year.
“Extreme racing will take a bit of a back-seat while I build up to the slalom worlds but it’s nice to know that my wrist can stand up to the pressures of racing in big water,” Dawson said. “I love coming up to the river in Lipno – it’s an amazing piece of whitewater that only flows once a year and doing well here gives me an extra shot of confidence for my slalom paddling.”
It’s the 27-year-old’s second extreme win of the year, following his victory in the Great Falls Race in the United States in July, while he also finished third in the Ekstrem Sport Veko in Norway in late June, which Sutton won.
But he’s also made plenty of headway in the Olympic slalom discipline, picking up his best-ever world cup result – an eighth – in Slovenia.
Following the Great Falls win, Dawson spent a month slalom training on Deep Creek in Maryland, the site of the world championships from September 17-21, and he’s also heading back there this week to continue his buildup.
Sutton, meanwhile, beat another Czech paddler, Viktor Legat, in the race off for third and fourth in Lipno and will now turn his attention to reclaiming the adidas Sickline extreme world championship title in Austria next month, an event he’s won three times previously.