The ICF World Cup series heads to Prague this weekend with racing commencing on Friday.
The third World Cup promises to be the best yet with a star studded field set to fight it out in the Czech capital.
Australia have currently won two gold and one bronze medals across the first two World Cups in London and Tacen.
Jessica Fox has been the standout Australian performer so far winning two of those medals and she currently sits first in C1W and fifth in K1W on the World Cup standings.
One change has been made to the team with Lucien Delfour returning to contest the K1M event after sitting out the second World Cup. He replaces Tasmanian Daniel Watkins who made an impressive debut finishing 35th in Tacen.
Australian team: Alison Borrows (NSW), Ian Borrows (NSW), Lucien Delfour (NSW), Christian Fabris (VIC), Will Forsythe (NSW), Jessica Fox (NSW), Sarah Grant (VIC), Ethan Hodson (NSW), Robin Jeffery (WA), Rosalyn Lawrence (NSW) and Jaxon Merritt (VIC).
Fox heads into the C1W event as the pre-race favourite following victory at the second World Cup in Slovenia last weekend.
The 20 year old knows the Prague course well and has a history of performing well at the venue having won at the senior World Championship last year.
Fox will be joined by Lawrence and Borrows who currently sit sixth and eighth respectively in the World Cup standings.
Czech Republic pair Katerina Hoskova and Monika Jancova will look to use their home course advantage and appear to be Fox’s main rivals in the Czech capital.
Qianqian Teng of China and British canoeist Kimberley Woods will be others in contention for the medals.
The Australian trio of Fox, Grant and Lawrence will also fancy their chances in the women’s Olympic discipline.
At last year’s World Championships Lawrence was the pick of the Australians finishing an impressive seventh and will be looking for another strong performance this year.
Fox has been in good form winning bronze in London and reaching the final in Tacen, while Grant will be looking to re-produce the excellent form she demonstrated in London finishing eighth.
Slovakian Jana Dukatova enters in red hot form following her victory last weekend and will be tough to beat on a course she knows well.
Austrian Corinna Kuhnle is also in good form following consecutive World Cup medals.
The Australian trio of Ian Borrows, Christian Fabris and Robin Jeffery come in with a new found confidence following their triumph in the C1M Teams final last weekend.
They will be hoping to carry that form into the individual event starting on Friday.
Borrows has been the most consistent of the Australian men so far, currently sitting 11th in the World Cup standings.
The 24 year old finished 12th last start and will looking to push for his first finals berth in Prague.
Fabris was pleased with his performance in Prague last weekend finishing 19th.
“I was ecstatic with my paddling in the semi-final, despite a disastrous roll near the end of the run which cost me a place in the final,” Fabris said.
“I'm really looking forward to build on my form in Slovenia to put something special together in Prague.”
While the Australians are an outside chance to medal in C1M the European nations are set to dominate the final.
Just one point currently separates World Cup series leader Benjamin Savsek of Slovenia and Slovakian Michal Martikan.
Others expected to be in contention for the medals include British paddler David Florence, Slovakian duo Matej Benus and Alexander Slafkovsky, German Sideris Tasiadis and Italian Stefano Cipressi, all of which currently rank inside the top ten.
Hodson and Jeffery will contest just their sixth World Cup this weekend.
The pair improved by five places at World Cup 2 moving from 21st in the field in London to 16th in Tacen and will be looking to move further up the order again this weekend.
Slovenian pair Luka Bozic and Saso Taljat are currently fighting out the C2 points race with Slovakian cousins Ladislav and Peter Skantar. Expect those two crews to battle it out for the gold medal once again in Prague.
The Czechs will be hard to beat on their home course with Vit Prindis currently leader the World Cup series. Add to that the European champion Jiri Prskavec and Ondrej Tunka and you have a formidable Czech team.
One paddler set to throw the challenge down to the locals will be New South Welshman Will Forsythe who enters this weekend’s World Cup on the back of a career best sixth placing in Tacen last week.
Lucien Delfour is a big in for the Australians while U23 kayaker Jaxon Merritt will be looking to get back to the form he demonstrated earlier in the year which saw him clinch the Oceania title.
European powerhouse Germany are expected to be amongst the medals with Hannes Aigner, Sebastian Schubert, Alexander Grimm and Fabian Doerfler all currently ranked in the top ten.
Racing will get underway on Friday from 9am local time (5pm AEST). The heats for all five disciplines will be contested on the opening day.
Australian schedule (AEST):
5:00pm – C1M Heat run 1 – (Borrows/Fabris/Jeffery)
6:00pm – K1M Heat run 1 – (Delfour/Forsythe/Merritt)
7:16pm – C1W Heat run 1 – (Borrows/Fox/Lawrence)
8:08pm – C1M Heat run 2 – (Borrows/Fabris/Jeffery)
9:08pm – K1M Heat run 2 – (Delfour/Forsythe/Merritt)
10:24pm – C1W Heat run 2 (Borrows/Fox/Lawrence)
12:00am – K1W Heat run 1 (Fox/Grant/Lawrence)
12:59am – C2M Heat run 1 (Hodson/Jeffery)
1:33am – K1W Heat run 2 (Fox/Grant/Lawrence)
2:32am – C2M Heat run 2 (Hodson/Jeffery)
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