Kiwis make world cup kayak semis

Action from the 2016 NZCT AIMS Games in Tauranga from Sept 4-9.
Alexandra’s Finn Butcher on his way to 16th in K1 qualifying at the last ICF world cup canoe slalom series round in Taen, Slovenia, overnight. Photo by Mike Dawson

Kiwi kayaker Finn Butcher stormed into the semifinals of the final ICF World Cup canoe slalom round in Tacen, Slovenia, overnight, while Callum Gilbert also kept his perfect semifinal record intact this season.
Butcher qualified directly for tonight’s top-40 K1 showdown, qualifying in 16th spot with a clean run of 106.06secs, just 5.16secs behind leader Michal Smolen (United States).
A gate touch and subsequent 2sec penalty saw Gilbert finish 42nd in the first round, although he made amends in the repechage second round, going clean and posting a 106.18sec time to qualify fifth.
Gilbert, 20, hasn’t missed the semifinals at any of the five world cup rounds this season.
New Zealand Olympian Mike Dawson, who finished 10th in Rio, pulled out of the final round after picking up a wrist injury and struggling last week in Prague. However, it gave him the perfect excuse to sit back and enjoy the progress of his young Kiwi teammates.
“The boys are looking good on the water,” Dawson said. “I know that if they have a run they’re capable of, there’s no doubt they could be contesting the final. It’s a tricky course but one most Kiwis love to race, due to its similarities to a natural river. I’m gutted not to be racing but excited to be out supporting and seeing the guys in action tomorrow.”
Of the other Kiwis in action, Jane Nicholas and Kensa Randle both picked up two first-round touches to finish 32nd and 34th respectively, then another three each in the repechage to miss the semifinals.  C1 paddler Ben Gibb was pushed out of the semifinals in tough racing conditions, finishing 41st and 28th in his two runs, still struggling with a rib injury he picked up training in Europe.


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