World Cup Level Competition At Penrith Whitewater Stadium
Wildwater Grand Prix 1 Decided
Dual Olympic medallist and 2018 double World Champion Jessica Fox(NSW) has won her first medal of the 2019 international season after coming second in the women’s K1 at the 2019 Canoe Slalom Australian Open. Australian World Championships paddler Rosalyn Lawrence (NSW) finished sixth with 2018 World Championships bronze medallist Ricarda Funk from Germany taking home the win in the women’s K1. The men’s C1 was won by Britain’s triple Olympic silver medallist David Florence.
The Australian Open are part of the 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival that is currently underway at Penrith Whitewater Stadium and will run over the next two weekends (15 – 17 and 22– 24 February 2-19).
The second day of the competition saw the semi-finals in the morning, followed by the finals at midday with Fox qualifying for the final following a fifth place in the semi. In the final, Fox posted a time of 96.96 to finish +1.16 seconds behind Funk with Germany’s former World Champion Jasmin Schornberg completing the German-Australian podium.
“The final was better than my semi-final run and that was the goal, to build on that semi run which had a couple of errors. I think it was 90% there. I made a little mistake down the bottom and a little one at the top, but I think I ran it well and raced really well so I was quite pleased to improve on that time. Obviously Ricarda beat me to it but she is phenomenal. She had a near perfect run so I’m really happy to start the season this way,” Jessica Fox said about her first international final of the 2019 Olympic qualification season.
Funk was equally complimentary about her Australian opponent, who she loves to race.
“It’s always great to race against Jess. It’s a bit of a rivalry, but it’s always with a smile and we are friends afterwards and I like to fight and race against her. I was really happy about my run, I had no touches which is great as I almost always touch a gate so I was really happy about it all,” Funk.
As most of the internationals at the event the German team has been training in Australia for several weeks and has been enjoying the high-level of the training and racing opportunities at the Sydney 2000 Olympic whitewater course in Penrith.
“Nearly the whole world is here. We came end of January and we will stay here until the Monday after Oceania Championships next weekend. I love to train here and I always love to come back because I think it’s one of the best courses in the world and it’s one of my favourites,” Funk said.
With most of the international racing taking place in Europe over the season, it is equally exciting for the Australian’s to have the world come to paddle down under.
“It’s been pretty incredible. There are around 300 competitors and it’s pretty much like a World Cup. There are so many good paddlers here, all the top seeds are out there and it’s pretty fun to be racing them on our home course for once as we don’t get to do that very often. They all paddled really well, so I will compare my lines and see what I can change for next time,” sixth placed Ros Lawrence said.
While it is a welcome opportunity to race the internationals on home waters, the 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival, which includes the Olympic canoe slalom Australian Open and Oceania Championships, is also a selection event for the Australians to qualify for the 2019 Australian National Canoe Slalom Team.
“We have the two events (Australian Open and Oceania Championships) and each day the first run of qualifications counts for one selection race and then the final result so we have four races for selection and the best three races count in the end. I had a solid run today so I’m happy with that and happy to be in the final. It wasn’t quite as fast as the othergirls to make the podium but it’s a good start to the season and a solid start to selection. It’s all still pretty open so it will all come down to next weekend,” Lawrence said about the selection relevance of the events.
Going into today’s racing as the top ranked Aussie with a fourth place in yesterday’s (Friday) qualifying, Noemie Fox (NSW) just missed out on the women’s K1 final, but won the bronze medal in the U23 category with a 12thplace in the semi-final.
“I think yesterday’s qualifying was probably one of the first times Noemie smashed me because she was four seconds ahead so she raced really well yesterday and I was so pleased for her,” Jessica Fox said about the strong performances of her sister.
“She’s been working really hard and to see her put down a run that showed how well she has been training was nice. I was a bit disappointed for her not to make the final today but it was so close. I think she had a really good run, she made a couple of mistakes but I think she’s improved a lot.”
Both Jessica and Noemie Fox as well as Rosalyn Lawrence will contest tomorrow’s women’s C1 semifinals next where they will be joined by fellow Aussies Kate Eckhardt, Alexandra Broome, Demelza Wall and Georgia Rankin.
In the men’s C1 Australia’s top ranked paddlers Ian Borrows(NSW) and Daniel Watkins (TAS) both missed the final after posting a 12thand 21stin the semi-final respectively.
The event was won by Britain’s three-time Olympic silver medallist David Florence, who was thrilled about the first win of the season ahead of France’s World Championships medallist Martin Thomas and Italy’s Raffaello Ivaldi. 2016 Olympic Champion Denis Gargaud Chanut (FRA) finished sixth.
Florence progressed into the final after a fifth place in the semi and won the final in 95.11 despite a touch. Thomas followed +1.59 seconds behind in second.
“For me coming here was to do a race and to start getting back into that mode and that it went so well straight-off is perfect. To win is the ultimate and I was very pleased with that. There’s such a strong field and so many of the top guys are over here training and it was like World Cup standard,” David Florence said.
“To get a win was really pleasing but mostly I was pleased with the way I went about my runs. Every run I felt pretty focussed, pretty concentrated the whole way down. I made a silly mistake and touched one of the easy gates but fortunately for me the other guys didn’t quite deliver in the final and it was still good enough with a two seconds penalty to get on the top, so I’m very, very pleased,” Florence added.
And asked about racing the final without the Australians Florence said, “It was a bit of a surprise to not see the Aussie in the final, but it was a really strong semi. There were four guys on a 93 (seconds), which I think is a really good run. Dan Watkins was good but he hit some gates. Yesterday the Aussies were really good and they were up there. They will be understandably a bit disappointed, but it’s a bit of a different race for them with this being a selection event for Australia. For all of us internationals it’s a stand-alone race and a warm-up for the season with no real consequences.”
The world’s best Olympic canoe slalom paddlers are contesting the 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival at Penrith Whitewater Stadium with racing continuing on Sunday with the women’s C1 and men’s K1 semifinals and finals.
Follow live results here: http://bit.ly/19AusOpenLiveResults
The 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival includes a series of events to crown the 2019 Australian Open and Oceania Canoe Slalom Champions as well as the Australian and Oceania Freestyle Champions over two weekends. The Australian Open Canoe Slalom as well as the Wildwater events are also ICF World Ranking events.
The event also includes the Wildwater Grand Prix 1 and 2 with Slovenia’s World Championships medallist Vid Debeljak taking home the win in the men’s K1 ahead of Australia’s national team wildwater paddlers Alexander and Robert McIntyre at the Grand Prix 1 which concluded today.
Victorians Kaylen and Lachlan Bassett won the men’s C2, while Robert Janiszewski won the C1 and Dita Pahl the women’s K1.
- 15-17 Feb:
- Australian Open Canoe Slalom (ICF Ranking Event)
- Wildwater GP1 (ICF Ranking Event)
- Freestyle Nationals
- 22-24 Feb:
- Oceania Championships Slalom
- Oceania Championships Freestyle
- Wildwater GP2 (ICF Ranking Event)
More information: www.whitewater.paddle.org.au
About the 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival
The 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival see the world’s best athletes competing at Penrith Whitewater Stadium at the largest international whitewater event in the Southern Hemisphere since the 2000 Olympic Games.
The best Olympic slalom athletes and a stellar line-up of World Champions and Guinness World Record holders will compete in an action packed, wet ‘n wild Whitewater Festival, showcasing the exciting and thrilling disciplines of canoe slalom, wildwater and freestyle canoeing.
Over 300 of the world’s greatest paddlers from over 30 countries, including several Olympic and World Champions, are competing against Australia’s best, with Australian slalom star, greatest female slalom paddler of all time and Western Sydney local Jessica Fox kicking off the international season on home waters.
The dual Olympic medallist and seven-time World Champion is spearheading Australia’s highly successful team when they take on the rest of the world in front of a home crowd at the Sydney 2000 Whitewater Stadium with less than 1.5 years to go to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.