Luuka Jones has capped a big day at the fourth ICF World Cup canoe slalom round of the season, making the semifinals in both the C1 and K1 classes in Italy overnight.
The Olympic K1 silver medalist will be joined in the semifinals by her Rio teamate Mike Dawson, who squeaked into the men’s K1 top-40 by the skin of his teeth.
The natural course at Ivrea, near Turin, saw some fast times on the opening day, with Jones 11.48secs behind Austria’s Corinna Kuhnle, in qualifying 10th-fastest in the K1.
That was more a mark of Kuhnle’s performance, however – her time of 91.67secs shocked her opponents, with two-time Olympic medallist Jessica Fox (Australia) next fastest in 97.69 and Jones in a tight cluster of five paddlers all within a second of each other.
Her C1 heat performance was a little more varied – having added the kneeling, single-bladed class to her repertoire this year, Jones was off in her first heat, missing two gates and finishing 35th, with fellow Kiwi Jane Nicholas 29th.
Jones came storming back in the repechage heat, however, clocking the fastest time of 123.65sec to comfortably progress.
Nicholas was 12th in her second run, just off the top-10 who went through, while her K1 repechage was even more agonising, finishing 11th, just 1.01secs from making her first World Cup semifinal. The third K1 Kiwi, Courtney Williams, was 47th in her first run and 28th in her second run.
Dawson, meanwhile, needed all his race smarts to get through in the K1. He picked up a touch on the 18th gate in his first run, which dropped him out of the top-30 automatically qualifying, and another touch in his repechage. His 93.19sec time in the latter run put him inside the top-10 by just 0.06secs, with Slovakian Radoslav Miko 11th in 93.25.
Fellow Kiwi Finn Butcher was 54th in his first run and 20th in his second, with Callum Gilbert 52nd in his first run and 27th in his second. New Zealand’s C1 men’s contingent had a tough day, with Ben Gibb clocking 113.03secs to finish 43rd in his first run, but then he and Shaun Higgins missed gates in their subsequent runs to miss progressing.