Australia’s Canoe Slalom National Team have arrived in Augsburg, Germany for the 2022 ICF Canoe and Extreme Slalom World Championships.
Nine athletes will represent Australia at this year’s World Championships, which marks 50 years since the sport made its Olympic debut at the same venue in 1972.
The team will be led by 11-time senior World Championships gold medallist and four-time Olympic medallist Jessica Fox, coming into Augsburg with three K1 World Cup gold medals from the three opening World Cup events of the season.
Fox said her opening World Cup results have her feeling confident heading into the World Championships, but she’s looking to improve on her Canoe and Extreme results.
“It’s been a good start to the season with the first three world cups, especially in kayak I couldn’t wish for a better start!” Fox said
“I’m learning and tweaking things for the canoe and extreme and looking forward to racing in Augsburg.
“Usually the World Championships are after the World Cup series but this year it’s in the middle of the season which is a bit different, so hopefully we are fresh and ready!”
Fox said she’s familiar with the Augsburg venue, which is an advantage, but she also knows how challenging it can be.
“We come most years to Augsburg, even for a few days, because it’s a great place to train, so I know Augsburg is a very tricky and specific course.
“It’s a unique venue and the key focus is to use the water as much as possible. You need to constantly adapt to this course and I think I’m pretty adaptable,” she said.
Fox will compete alongside her sister Noemie in all three women’s disciplines: the K1, C1 and new Olympic discipline, Extreme Slalom.
Fox’s fellow Olympic teammate Lucien Delfour will once again line up in the K1 events and Extreme Slalom, aiming to improve upon his strong K1 15th place finish from the 2021 World Championships.
Kaylen Bassett also returns for his second Slalom World Championships after making the switch from Wildwater to Slalom before last year’s World Cup season.
Making their returns to the World Championships for the first time since before the COVID-19 Pandemic include Kate Eckhardt, Tristan Carter and Tim Anderson.
24-year-old Eckhardt said it’s been interesting adjusting to being back on the Canoe Slalom international tour, after spending the past three years at home with limited training or competition opportunities.
“It’s a little surreal to be back here, it’s been a few years for me of studying and I’ve just finished my degree before I came over to Europe to jump straight into the World Cup season,” Eckhardt said.
“I went from a long period of flat water and not much training, into this season’s first World Cups where I had very low expectations of myself,” she said.
“But after building up my base and doing a couple of races after a long time away from racing, I am feeling a lot more confident on the water and I am excited to see what I can do here in Augsburg.”
Carter agreed that there’s been a transition period for the first World Cups.
“Since getting here for the first three world cups, it’s been good to get back into it, realise what being on tour is all about and get familiar with being on the start line again,” he said.
“So far I’ve ticked off a couple goals I’m pretty happy with, and overall I can take confidence from what I’ve done at the start of the season and I look forward to progressing and learning.
“My focus for this week is to trust in my ability and the work that I’ve put in, knowing what I am capable of doing, and see where I end up.”
Ben Pope and Brodie Crawford will both make their senior Slalom World Championship debuts, stepping up from the Junior and U23 World Championship experiences in 2019.
The 2022 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships will run 27 – 31 July in Augsburg, Germany.
Paddle Australia Canoe Slalom World Championships Team
Jessica Fox – K1, C1, Extreme Slalom (NSW)
Noemie Fox – K1, C1, Extreme Slalom (NSW)
Kate Eckhardt – K1, C1, Extreme Slalom (TAS)
Lucien Delfour – K1, Extreme Slalom (NSW)
Tim Anderson – K1, Extreme Slalom (NSW)
Ben Pope – K1, Extreme Slalom (NSW)
Tristan Carter – C1, Extreme Slalom (VIC)
Kaylen Bassett – C1, Extreme Slalom (NSW)
Brodie Crawford – C1, Extreme Slalom (WA)