For the host Czech Republic, it was solid results all around at the ICF World Slalom Championships in Prague, as Vavrinec Hradilek and Jiri Prskavec (CZE) clinched Gold and Silver, respectively, in the Men’s K1 finals on the freshly flood-recovered Vtlava River.
“I’m really happy that it ended up like this with me and Jiri,” said Hradilek. “First and second place is great.”
The Czech’s top two K1 paddlers celebrated their victory in style as Prskavec leaped from the backside – where he had been with TV crews following his run – to join his compatriot and lifelong friend in the water. The duo was greeted with a huge roar from the capacity crowd as they celebrated together.
“This is more than the Gold from Krakow Europeans,” said Prskavec. “This is really an incredible experience. I owe to all spectators that came. They made an atmosphere bigger than I ever experienced. I don’t know what happened but they pushed me further. They pushed me to the finish.”
Poland’s Mateusz Polaczyk claimed Bronze.
In women’s K1, it was all French, as 30-year-old French paddler Emilie Fer, fresh from winning the gold medal in the London Olympics, continued her winning ways with another gold. French teammate Nouria Newman, 22, picked up the silver.
“I paddled as hard as I could, picked up three penalties, and when I arrived here I thought it was not going to be good enough,” she said. “I said to myself, Ok, the last run I did went pretty well so it should, somehow, be ok.”
That it was, as she earned her first-ever Slalom World Championship medal. Jasmin Schornberg (GER) claimed Bronze.
In the Men’s C2 David Florence, who had waited 15 years to win a World Championship medal collected his second in 24 hours, as he crossed the line with teammate Richard Hounslow in top spot. “It’s not the Gold medal, it’s the World title that matters, no one can take that way from us,” Hounslow said afterward. “There may have been some slightly faster options, but much riskier.”
The British duo only just bettered the local boat of Jaroslav Volf and Ondrej Stepanek (CZE), who had the partisan crowd on their feet throughout their run.
“I thought the Czech boys had beaten us actually,” said Florence. “It was so close, point-zero-four-of-a-second is nothing. Obviously we were on the wrong side of a small margin last year in London and it’s just nice to be on the right side this time.”
Bronze went to the Slovakian cousins Ladlslav and Peter Skantar.
The Czech Republic finished their World Championships off with a flourish, collecting Gold in both the Team Finals.
For the women, Australia’s Jessica Fox added a C1 World Championship Gold to her ever-swelling collection, as did David Florence (GBR) in the C1 Men’s final.
Fox, a 19-year-old from Australia, showed exactly why she is the front-runner in the world of women’s C1 paddling. From the off she was in control of the competition gaining time on her rivals with each paddle stroke and crossing the line just shy of 13 second in front of Silver medalist, Mallory Franklin (GBR).
“I felt the upper section of the course was fast,” she said. “Then I made some mistakes at the bottom. I had no idea that I could win with such a big difference.”
The Bronze went to Caroline Loir (FRA)
In Men’s C1, Florence put in a near perfect run to win the gold. Wearing the number one jersey the Brit looked assured from the start and carried unmatchable speed throughout. “I went fairly early off in the final,” he said. “Only a couple of other guys had gone down. I crossed the line and knew I had to put in a really good time. I was just really pleased to put in a good run, that’s all I was trying to focus on.”
“In some ways it was a nervous wait but in others I had done my bit and for the guys at the top it was probably a more of a nervous wait at the top, trying to beat that time. It certainly drags on, it’s a long wait, but I had done my best and I was pleased with my run. I had hung on to a good run all the way down, I’ve finished my run off very strongly which is what has perhaps cost me a couple of races in the last year.”
Silver went to an emotional Alexander Slavkovský (SVK) “I waited fourteen years for my first senior medal; it’s something fantastic,” he said. “I heard the fans from start line to the end of the course. They didn’t cheer just for Czechs, but for everyone. They were fantastic. I wish that everyone could feel this.”
In the team events, Michal Martikan (SVK) helped his compatriots, Alexander Slafkovsky and Matej Benus to Gold in the C1 Team Final. For Martikan it will provide some consolation following his semifinal exit in the C1 individual event on Friday.
The German trio claimed Silver and France Bronze.