Call it a clean sweep, Czech-mate style. Three finals resulted in three gold medals for host nation Czech Republic at the first ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup of the season in Prague.
The Czech sweep included Stanislav Jezek winning C1M, Katerina Hoskova taking C1W, and Jiri Prskavec winning the K1M on the Troja channel.
Jezek was the first to deliver gold in front of the hometown crowd taking to the top step of the podium ahead of Benjamin Savsek (SLO, silver) and David Florence (GBR, bronze) in the C1M.
Earlier in the day, the 38-year-old, who has been paddling down the Troja channel since his youth, delivered a super quick semifinal run that provided him the benefit of setting off last in the final. Then the local hero delivered a near perfect run weaving and bending in and out of gates in his typical balletic fashion.
“I didn’t manage to deliver such a good race for a long time so I’m really happy to do this on my home course,” he says. “I’ve been competing on this course for over 25 years so no one knows this course like me.”
While rain hampered the early stages of the finals, Jezek says it could have helped hi success. “The rain was bad, but the other guys were unluckier because the rain had almost finished when I started,” he says.
Savsek finished just 0.57 seconds behind the Czech veteran, with Florence, who won gold at the World Championships on the same course in 2013, a further second off the mark.
The C1W top two was also split by less than a second with Katerina Hoskova (CZE) managing to trump the sports dominant force, Jessica Fox (AUS).
“It was perfect, just perfect,” said Hoskova afterward. “My objective was to win one of the World Cups and I’ve done that. I can now focus on London World Championships and qualification for the Games.”
Multiple world champion Fox showed composure and speed to collect silver and again looks to be in top form coming into the new international season.
Brazil’s leading light Ana Satila won bronze after an early set back with a touch on gate two.
Drama unfolded in the K1M as Joseph Clarke (GBR) made the run of his life to later be disqualified due to his boat not meeting the required weight in post race boat control. This provided double-European Champion Jiri Prskavec (CZE) the top honors, again in front of a home-town crowd. The 22-year-old, who earlier in the season became the U23 World Champion, was ecstatic to take to the top step of the podium in front of his home support.
2014 World Champion, Boris Neveu (FRA) demonstrated his class with a run just over half a second behind the Czech’s rising star.