Jess and Noemie Fox have finished the 2024 Canoe Slalom Oceania Championships on a high, taking out gold and bronze in the women’s Kayak Cross event on the final day of racing.
It wraps up a big weekend for the Fox sisters, Jess winning three gold medals (canoe, kayak and kayak cross) and Noemie winning two bronze (kayak and kayak cross).
Jess said she is pleased to finish the first racing weekend of the year with three gold medals, and getting some racing experience under her belt in the lead up to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
“It couldn’t have gone better for me this weekend really,” Jess said.
“The kayak and canoe were what I was aiming for, to do some good paddling. And with the Kayak Cross you never really know, you’ve kind of got to take it step by step and it’s good to get that race experience.
“I raced well in the final, and made some good strategic decisions, and I was happy,” she said.
For Jess, it was refreshing to have the world’s best paddlers back in Australia to compete against, after a few years of limited internationals visiting due to COVID restrictions.
“Here we had the (Kayak Cross) world number 1 (Kimberley Woods GBR), we had Luuka Jones who won the (Kayak Cross) world cup in Paris, Noemie who is a super strong competitor and in the (Kayak Cross) final we also had Camille Prigent, one of the French paddlers,” Jess said.
“That’s a world class final, that’s a field you would expect at a World Cup or World Championships.
“It was cool to be in the final with Noemie as well, and to fight it out together. I’m really proud of her racing this weekend, with her bronze in K1 as well. For her, it’s super important to get this racing experience, and it’s great to be able to do that together and with the international athletes here as well,” she said.
Today’s bronze medal was an important result for Noemie, who is working towards the kayak cross Olympic quota qualification event in Prague in June 2024.
“Race experience is definitely the biggest thing, so it’s a great confidence boost. But it’s also very nerve racking and I think I put a lot of pressure on every race that I do in the lead up to Prague but it’s great for me to have that opening and to seize whatever opportunity I get to go to the Games,” Noemie said.
“There’s a great team behind me, supporting me, and it’s a great experience for me to undertake.
“I’m happy to finish on the podium again in the Kayak Cross today. It was definitely a huge fight, with some big names out there…some recent world champions and recent world cup podiums.
“In an Olympic year you definitely feel the shift in quality of racing, and there’s definitely been a big uplift in the competitions.
“That Kayak Cross final felt like a World Championship final, and I was definitely so happy to be in there and be a part of that,” she said.
Mathurin Madore (FRA) won the men’s Kayak Cross gold medal, Martin Dougoud (SUI) in second and New Zealand’s Finn Butcher rounding out the podium with bronze.
Australians topped the U18 Kayak Cross podiums, with Western Australia’s Hunter Florisson finishing first in the men’s event and New South Wales’ Codie Davidson taking out gold in the women’s event.
“The Kayak Cross is really fun. There were a lot of people here that are really good paddlers so it was fun to be a part of,” Florisson said.
“The atmosphere was completely different this weekend, and it was so good to have so many of the world’s best paddlers here for the Oceania Championships,” he said.
“I’m really happy – I’m glad that I was able to bring back (in kayak cross) what I was able to do overseas last year,” Davidson said.
“It’s really cool to see how well you can paddle this course, and you learn a lot from the internationals being here.
“I’m looking forward to paddling against them again next weekend at the Australian Open and seeing what I can do against them,” she said.
The Kayak Cross was the final event on the program for the 2024 Canoe Slalom Oceania Championships.
Racing will return to Penrith Whitewater Stadium next weekend for the 2024 Canoe Slalom AUS Open.