World Championship Start Lists 2018
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Kayak cross “a bright future” in wildwater canoe competition – ICF President
Canoeing currently has just two Olympic disciplines – slalom and sprint racing – but a third emerging sport is capturing public attention and offers an insight into how the sport’s future on the World stage might evolve.
Speaking at the World Wildwater Canoeing Championships in the remote Swiss mountain town of Muotathal, Jose Perurena, President of the International Canoe Federation, said he saw the development of kayak cross as a particularly exciting sign of how the sport is innovating.
“Look at what young people are doing in other sports, it’s about seeing head-to-head racing, amid much excitement and pace. Skiing has added ski cross to its Olympic repertoire with great success, I see kayak cross as an equally exciting development for wildwater canoeing,” Perurena said.
In kayak cross four paddlers in short, stubby kayaks drop into the river from a steep artificial slide built on the bank. They then race head-to-head down a fast-flowing course, navigating obstacles and trying not to lose time by spinning out of the current or colliding with their fellow competitors. It’s a highly televisual, adrenaline-fueled discipline with paddlers’ blades whirling around furiously and boats bashing against each other in the rapids.
“The challenge for canoeing, as it is for other sports, is to continue attracting young people,” said Perurena. “Slalom and wildwater are exciting for those who know these sports, but for newcomers the sight of four people racing at the same time has great appeal and that is key to growing our sport is enhancing that appeal.”
Perurena was speaking just ahead of the Swiss kayak cross competition, held during a break in the World Championship programme. He paid tribute to the Swiss organisers in Muotathal, describing it as a great example of how a small rural community could nevertheless pull of a world-class event.
“There’s always pressure to hold competitions in urban areas, but in wildwater that isn’t possible. In any case, the organizing committee here in Muotathal have shown what can be done with a modest budget and a small army of highly motivated volunteers. It’s been a terrific few days of competition,” Perurena added.
The 2018 event is the first canoeing World Championships to be held in Switzerland since 1973. Xaver Schuler, mayor of the neighbouring town of Schwyz said the canton had been delighted to hold the event.
“We have had a dedicated organizing team hard at work for over a year,” he said. “The town of Muotathal and the neighbouring areas have thrown themselves into this event and are excited to welcome world-championship canoeing back to the canton for the first time in 45 years.”
Hans Wyss, one of the Muota 2018 organizing committee and himself a member of the Swiss team that competed in Muotathal back in 1973, said the return of the World Championships was a day many locals had looked forward to for many years.
“This is a great day for Swiss canoeing, to see world-class action back on the Muota River,” Wyss said. “We have had great weather, amazing competition and some incredible performances. What more could one wish for?”
More than 300 competitors from 23 countries are attending the 2018 World Wildwater Canoeing Championships in Muotathal, Switzerland. The competitions run until Sunday 3 June. The event website is at www.wm-muota2018.ch and can be followed on Facebook (www.facebook.com/wmmuota2018) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/muotakanuwm)
French and Czech success mark first day of Wildwater Canoeing World Championships
Day one of the International Canoe Federation World Wildwater Championships saw thrills, spills and excitement in equal measure. There were huge celebrations for the Czech Republic, whose paddlers won both the Women’s single kayak and the Men’s single canoe.
Martina Satkova finished an astounding 17 seconds clear of the rest of the field in her race while Rolenc Ondrej beat off stiff competition from Frenchman Louis Lapointe and his fellow Czech Marek Rygel. In the men’s kayak France won silver and bronze through Paul Jean and Paul Graton in second and third, respectively, while Simon Oven of Slovenia took the gold medal in a field of 60 paddlers.
There was local success for Soluturner Melanie Mathys who was third in the women’s kayak while 18 year old Hannah Müller, competing in her first senior World Championship competition, finished comfortably inside the top ten, an amazing result for a first-year senior.
The capacity crowd in the remote mountain town of Muotathal, which has vigorously embraced the first canoeing World Championships to be held in Switzerland since 1973, cheered on local kayaker 19 year old Linus Bolzern. The junior world championship silver medalist from 2017 finished an astounding 12th in the 60-strong mens kayak field, making it the best individual Swiss male result for more than 10 years.
Fresh from his school exams, Bolzern said he had not had the luxury to get stressed about the competition beforehand: “I did not even have to think about the World Cup during the exam. Maybe the distraction was good, because I managed a perfect ride.”
In the Ladies canoe, Sabine Eichenberger was the talk of the town. The 50-year-old veteran finished in fifth place in the elite class - just under six seconds behind the bronze medal position. She has already announced that she will retire from competitive canoeing after the World Cup. She has one more chance to finish her successful career with a medal in the team race on Friday – racing in kayak, she starts with Müller and Mathys over the classic 4.3km race.
The press release for Thursday can be downloaded here
All information about the Championships to download here.