International paddlers took a clean sweep of finals on the first day of the Whitewater XL canoe slalom championships in Auckland today.
Olympic silver medalist Luuka Jones was the best of locals, grabbing a couple of podium finishes, though she was an agonising 0.29secs behind Great British paddler Lizzie Neave in the women’s K1 final.
The format featured a qualifying race through eight gates on the new Vector Wero Whitewater Park course, with the top-eight going through to quarterfinals, semifinals and a final. Neave, an Olympian on her home course in London in 2012, loved the experience.
“It was a really fun race format – something I’d never done before – and all the athletes really enjoyed it,” Neave said. “The course is really good run – it’s slightly smaller than what I’m used to training on but it’s still technically challenging and really good for training and racing on.”
Jones also grabbed third in the C1 division, her first attempt at the kneeling, single-bladed discipline in more than four years.
Australians Noemie Fox and Rosalyn Lawrence squared off in the C1 final, with Fox’s time of 79.82secs nearly 3secs clear of her compatriot.
In the men’s C1, German Franz Anton came through for the win, heading Frenchman Cedric Joly by 0.35secs, after Rio silver medalist Matej Benus (Slovakia) touched a gate and incurred a 2sec penalty in the semifinal. That allowed another Frenchman, Edern Le Ruyet, to come through for third.
Czech Republic star Via Prindis triumphed in the men’s K1 final, meanwhile, heading Stefan Hengst (Germany) by 2.97secs, after Hengst picked up two touches.
Tomorrow’s format will see more traditional 18-gate course, with two runs of qualifying for Saturday.
The top-10 from the first qualifying run will contest for another cash shootout tomorrow night, with 30 more paddlers from the next run joining them in Saturday’s semifinals.
C1: Noemie Fox (Australia) 1, Rosalyn Lawrence (Australia) 2, Luuka Jones (New Zealand) 3.
K1: Lizzie Leave (Great Britain) 1, Luuka Jones (New Zealand) 2, Martina Wegman (Netherlands) 3.
C1: Franz Anton (Germany) 1, Cedric Joly (France) 2, Edern Le Ruyet (France) 3.
K1: Bit Prindis (Czech Republic) 1, Stefan Hengst (Germany) 2, Mike Dawson (New Zealand) 3.