Strong winds and even stronger competition have proved too much for the young New Zealand canoe slalom team on the opening day of the third ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup in Markkleeberg, Germany.
K1 paddlers Finn Butcher and Callum Gilbert came the closest to qualifying for the weekend semifinals with Gilbert just 1.42secs off making the top-30 in his first run, after a clean 96.66sec effort, and Butcher just 1.45secs off making the top-10 in his second run.
The intense competition in the men’s ranks was highlighted with the top-50 paddlers all finishing within 10secs of each other in the first round, including World Cup rookie and the third Kiwi K1 paddler Alex Hawthorne, who produced a sharp 99.10sec effort including 4secs worth of penalties.
Olympic champion Joe Clarke (Great Britain) needed two runs to qualify, while reigning world champion Jiri Prskavec was right on the top-30 cut-off.
Jane Nicholas missed a gate in the second run of her C1, finishing 13th as the top-10 went through, while she and Courtney Williams both enjoyed solid K1 runs, without managing to progress.
Gilbert and Patrick Washer finished 42nd and 50th in the their C1 first runs, then both missed gates in the repechage round.
Most of the team will now start preparing for the under-23 world championships in Slovakia later this month.