It was a tough opening day for the Paddle Australia team at the 2018 ICF Canoe Slalom U23 and Junior World Championships in Ivrea, Italy (17 – 22 July 2018), but there were plenty of encouraging signs for the young team.
Many of the athletes paddled in team events for the first time, and several also raced in unfamiliar disciplines to ensure Australia had a presence in as many events as possible.
Australia’s best performance came in the women’s U23 K1 team event, where Noemie Fox (NSW), Kate Eckhardt (TAS) and Alexandria Choate (WA) finished a close fifth.
The performance was even more meritorious considering it was Choate’s first run on the course in a kayak.
“It was interesting, it was fun,” Choate said. “I knew they are both really good, so everything would be fine, I wouldn’t kill them be accident. But also I knew I needed to catch them all the time. So it was good fun.”
Fox, Eckhardt and Demelza Wall combined later in the day to finish tenth in the women’s C1 U23 teams event.
Australia’s day had an unlucky start, with Steven Lowther (WA) breaking his paddle in the U23 C1 men’s team event.
Despite the setback, Lowther, Brodie Crawford (WA) and Daniel Watkins (TAS) still managed to finish ninth.
“We didn’t know,” Crawford said. “We noticed Steve was taking some odd lines in some spots, but we just kept pushing and sticking to the plan.”
“I think if that hadn’t happened, and judging by the time Brodie and I had, we would have been right up there,” Watkins said.
Later in the day Crawford and Watkins teamed up with Angus Thompson in the men’s U23 K1 teams event, but a missed gate penalty relegated the trio to 20th position.
It was the first time Crawford had competed in a K1 for three years.
“Obviously I don’t do a lot of kayak, but I wanted to do it for the boys,” Crawford said.
“I had a bit of a spill, but we had a good time. I’m pretty comfortable in the water, but there’s a few nerves I think.
“It’s good to release the pressure valve.”
The future of Australian paddling was on show in the men’s junior K1 team event, with Bradley McLaughlin, Jack Choate and Joshua Montalto combining to finish 16th.
Individual events get underway on Wednesday (18 July), with heats in the U23 men’s and women’s K1 and C1 races.
Programme Wednesday, July 18, heats
08:30 (16:30 AEST) C1M – K1W U23 1st run
10:30 (18:30 AEST) C1M – K1W U23 2nd run
13:30 (21:30 AEST) C1W – K1M U23 1st run
15:40 (23:40 AEST) C1W – K1M U23 2nd run
See event webpage for more info: https://www.canoeicf.com/canoe-slalom-world-championships/ivrea-2018
Live stream: www.canoeicf.com
See Canoe Slalom Team Athlete Profiles here: https://paddle.org.au/canoe-slalom-athlete-profiles/