The 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival returns to Penrith Whitewater Stadium this weekend for the second round and a rematch of the world’s best whitewater paddlers at the action packed wet ‘n wild festival that includes the three disciplines of canoe slalom, wildwater and freestyle.
The two-weekend event saw the world’s best whitewater paddlers contest the Australian Open last weekend with the 300 competitors from 25 countries returning this weekend for the Canoe Slalom and Freestyle Oceania Championships as well as the Wildwater GP2.
Last weekend’s 2019 Canoe Slalom Australian Open, as part of the 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival, was a successful return to international competition for Western Sydney local, dual Olympic medallist and 2018 double World Champion Jessica Fox following her historic 2018 season when she wrote canoeing history and became the most successful individual canoe slalom paddler of all time.
Just over 520 days out from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Jessica Fox took home the win in the women’s C1 in a world-class field in a successful opening of the 2019 Olympic qualification season. This weekend, Fox will be aiming to continue her unbeaten run in the boat class she won five World Cups, the overall World Cup as well as World Championships gold in last year and is hoping for a strong crowd to support her and the Australia team as they take on the best in the World.
“It’s a really awesome place to come and bring the family and to see the best in the world. There are 300 athletes here from over 25 countries and it’s bigger than a World Cup. You don’t get that every day in Penrith or Australia for that matter, so we are pretty lucky to have it. There will be some really good action with also our freestyle and wildwater paddlers on show and we would love a big home crowd and the support for the Aussies,” Fox said.
Fox will also be going for a rematch in the women’s K1, which was won by Germany’s 2018 World Championships silver medallist Ricarda Funk last weekend ahead of Fox and with both paddlers enjoying a friendly rivalry.
“I like to fight and race against Jess. It’s a bit of a rivalry, but it’s always with a smile and we are friends afterwards,” Funk said.
The world class women’s K1 field also includes Rio 2016 Olympic champion Maialen Chourraut from Spain as well as New Zealand’s Olympic silver medallist Luuka Jones.
In the women’s C1, two Aussies made the podium last weekend with Jessica’s sister Noemie Fox finishing third. After a strong Australian Open weekend Noemie Fox, who is turning 22 in March, is already looking forward to the next round of racing.
“We have another big weekend at the Oceania championships comping up and I’m looking forward to it! I feel that last weekend was really good for me. It’s hard with selection taking the toll on your body and mind. But I’m just really glad that I went through the first whole selection race in good spirits. I paddled to my potential and that always feels really good.
“We had three Aussie girls with Kate Eckhardt, myself and Jess in the C1 final and it was quite challenging, but it felt good to get a third place, only one second behind Jess and Ana so it was quite close.”
“It feels good to be so close and I’m lucky enough to get to train with her every day. It’s nice to be just one second behind in a race that was a really good run for her. Maybe one day I’ll be in front, but it is Jess Fox we are talking about here,” Noemie Fox said laughing when asked about the chance of over taking her sister.
Rio 2016 Olympian and 2018 World Championships silver medallist Lucien Delfour (NSW) won silver in the men’s K1 final last Sunday and is also looking to go one better at this weekend’s event.
The who is who in Olympic canoe slalom is competing at the 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival including Rio 2016 Olympic champion in the men’s C1 Denis Gargaud Chanut from France as well as Spain’s Rio 2016 Olympic champion and London 2012 bronze medallist in the women’s K1 Maialen Chourraut (ESP).
The stellar international line-up also includes all Rio 2016 Olympic medallists Jiří Prskavec (CZE), Peter Kauzer (SLO), Luuka Jones (NZL), Jessica Fox (AUS) as well as Hannes Aigner (GER), Jessica Fox (AUS) and Maialen Chourraut (ESP).
With Jessica Fox (women’s K1 and C1), Germany’s Hannes Aigner (K1) and Franz Anton (C1), also all current World Champions will be at the start line in the Olympic events.
With 520 days to go to the 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival is the start of the Olympic Canoe Slalom qualifying season with both weekends’ racing also counting towards Australian national team selection across Senior, U23 and Junior classes.
The event is the largest international whitewater event in the Southern Hemisphere since the 2000 Olympic Games celebrating the 20-year Olympic anniversary of the course following its opening in 1999.
The canoe slalom competition will start on Friday, 15 February with heats. Semi-finals and finals in the men’s C1 and women’s K1 are scheduled for Saturday, before Sunday will see the women’s C1, mixed C2 and men’s K1 semi-finals and finals.
The world’s best whitewater paddlers will also be represented in the exciting Freestyle and Wildwater disciplines. After a successful whitewater ‘rock ‘n roll’ spectacle last weekend, the first ever Freestyle Oceania Championships is set to get the Penrith Whitewater Stadium pumping.
“It is going to be one of the biggest freestyle competitions that Australia has had since the World Championships in Penrith back in 2004,” three-time world cup champion and Guinness World record holder Jez Jezz said.
The Oceania Championships will give Japan’s World Cup Champion Suematso Yoshiko the chance for a rematch with last weekend’s winner Sage Donelly (USA), who is a former Junior World Champion and US Women’s Freestyle and K1 and C1 National Champion. In the men’s, last weekend’s winner Jack Newland is aiming to make it a double win as he prepares for the Freestyle World Championships in June.
The freestyle competition will start on Saturday, 23 February with heats and with finals to follow on Sunday.
The weekend also includes the Wildwater Grand Prix 2, which is an ICF ranking event as well as the final selection opportunity for remaining spots on the national wildwater team.
Racing at the 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival – Round Two starts tomorrow, Friday, 22 February 2019 with the heats in the Canoe Slalom Oceania Championships. The Oceania Freestyle National Championships as well as the Wildwater GP1 will join the action on Saturday.
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. It also includes the Wildwater Grand Prix 1 and 2.
The Australian Open Canoe Slalom as well as the Wildwater events are also ICF World Ranking events.
- 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)
Entry to the event is free for spectators.
All start lists, last weekend’s results, schedule etc can be found on the event website here: https://whitewater.paddle.org.au/
Follow live results here: http://bit.ly/19oceaniachampsresults
See last weekend’s Australian Open (15-17 February) results here: http://bit.ly/19AusOpenLiveResults