Saturday, September 17, 2011

World Championships - Wrap Up

The Canoe Slalom World Championships are all wrapped up in Bratislava, Slovakia and everyone is safe and sound in their homelands. Canada went into these Worlds with the hopes of sealing Olympic berths and avoiding a trip to the PanAm Championships, and last chance Olympic Qualifier, in Brazil in March. Unfortunately, Canada is going to have a big team in Brazil with some serious work to do because they were unable to qualify in any of the Olympic disciplines.

Paul Manning-Hunter of Edmonton, was joined in the K1 men's Semi-Finals by John Hastings of Ottawa, and hopes were high. It wasn't their day. John cut the lines too much and incured 50sec penalties putting him at the back of the semis, while Paul had touches bumping him to 35th place. This wraps up a very consistent first season for Paul, where he place between 24th and 39th in every race (as well as a 14th in the Qualifier in the French leg of the World Cup circuit). Consistency is not something which often comes easy, but Paul has been a model for it in 2011. From Team Trials, through 4 World Cups, the Olympic test event and the World Championships he's been a rock. Add a little extra speed over the next six months...and look out!

Haley Daniels of Calgary, showed very well in her Worlds debut. She was 22nd in the C1 womens class, which is working towards inclusion at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Her team-mate Alexander McGee of Ottawa, finished 6th in the final, showing that the Canadian ladies are headed in the right direction. Haley said afterwards, that she never expected to do so well and is looking forward to a hard year of training so she can join her compatriot in the finals.

In the C2 class the Purcell Brothers from Innisfail, have the PanAms date in Brazil etched in their minds. No C2's qualified from North or South America so there is one spot up for grabs in March. They will be spending much of the winter training in North Carolina and Brazil in order to put their mark in the spot.

In K1 womens, Jessica Groeneveld was unable to hold her form of the last two World Championships (22nd, 19th) and will also be in the hunt for an Olympic berth in Brazil. She was 21st after the first runs on Wednesday, but the results were nullified and the race re-run on Friday, due to high winds. Friday was not her day, and she finished well back. Jessica has been the most consistent woman from Canada for the last three years, so she has lots of experience to draw from going into the Olympic year.

The biggest story of the 2011 World Championships was the success of the French pair of Gargaud and Levefre. Together they were 2nd in C2 & 3rd in C2 Team; Gargaud is the World Champion in C1; and Lefevre was 3rd in K1 & 2nd in K1 Team. Amongst them they medaled in 5 races!

Till Brazil...

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