ICF Slalom World Cup 4 Preview

Lucien Delfour on his way to silver last year
Tom Collings, Thursday, 31 July 2014

Slalom World Cup racing returns this Friday when La Seu dUrgell, Spain hosts the fourth installment of what has been a great series so far.

With less than two months until the World Championships in the USA, the fourth World Cup promises to be the best yet as athletes continue to fine tune ahead of the biggest event on the ICF calendar this year.

Australia has produced some consistent racing across the first three World Cups in London, Tacen and Prague winning five medals and they will be on the hunt for more this weekend.

Since the conclusion of the third World Cup in June the Australian paddlers have been training in small groups in France, USA and the Czech Republic.

They arrived in Spain earlier in the week and Head Coach Mike Druce has been impressed with what he has seen so far.

“With limited training on the course the team has adapted well to the conditions and very keen to test themselves against a World Class field,” Druce said.

“The next 2 World Cup races will be the last racing opportunities before the Worlds in the USA in September and we will be using all the information from these races to build our performance for the Worlds.”

Australia has a history of performing well at Le Seu d’Urgell.

In 2013 Jessica Fox won the C1W event while Lucien Delfour produced the best result of his career to win silver in the K1M event behind Czech paddler Vavrinec Hradilek.

Fox and Delfour will lead a strong Australia team into battle this weekend.

Team: Jessica Fox (NSW), Sarah Grant (VIC), Rosalyn Lawrence (NSW), Alison Borrows (NSW), Ian Borrows (NSW), Robin Jeffery (WA), Christian Fabris (VIC), Ethan Hodson (NSW), Lucien Delfour (NSW), Jaxon Merritt (VIC) and Daniel Watkins (TAS).

The C1M, C1W, K1M, C2M and K1W heats will be contested on the opening day of racing.

The highlight for the Australian C1M came at World Cup 2 in Tacen when Ian Borrows, Robin Jeffery and Christian Fabris combined to win gold in the teams event.

All three paddlers have reached the semifinals at different stages across the first three World Cups.

Borrows has been the most consistent performer and currently sits 16th in the C1M standings after finishing 12th in Tacen and 18th in London.

While the trio of Australians are a realistic chance of pushing for a place in the final, a medal may be out of reach with Slovakian trio Michal Martikan, Matej Benus and Alexander Slafkovsky, Benjamin Savsek of Slovenia and British paddler David Florence in a red-hot form.

Martikan has won a medal at each of the World Cups so far to sit first in the standings on 165 points, nine ahead of Savsek.

Jeffery will also team up with Ethan Hodson in the C2M event. The pair will be looking to progress to the semifinal this year after finishing 22nd in 2013.

Slovakian cousins Ladislav and Peter Skantar and Slovenian pair Luka Bozic and Saso Taljat currently have a stranglehold of the top two in the ICF standings and are expected to battle it out for the gold medal once again.

Speaking of medals, Australia has won two gold’s in the C1W event to date thanks to some great racing from Jessica Fox and Rosalyn Lawrence.

The pair currently sit third and fourth respectively on the ICF standings behind Czech paddler Katerina Hoskova and Qianqian Teng of China.

With Teng absent from the start list this weekend, Fox, Lawrence, Hoskova and British paddler Mallory Franklin look set to fight it out for the medals.

Although unlikely to defend her C1W World Cup Series title, Fox will look to return to the top of the women’s timesheet in what will be her final World Cup of the year before representing Australia as an ambassador at the Youth Olympics in China.

Alison Borrows will be the third of the Australian C1W in action and will be out to improve on her 18th placing last year.

In 2013 Lucien Delfour produced a career best result to win silver in the K1M event.

Delfour has been below the lofty standards he sets himself this season and will be hoping a return to La Seu d’Urgell will coincide with a return to the form that saw him record three top ten finishes last year.

He will be joined by Victorian Jaxon Merritt and Tasmanian Daniel Watkins.

Merritt will be out to improve on his 35th placing last year, while Watkins will look to build on an impressive World Cup debut in Tacen where he finished 35th having earlier caught the eye after recording the 10th fastest qualification run.

Germany and the Czech Republic are expected to fight it out for the medals with the top six positions on the ICF standings being occupied by the two European heavyweights.

Hannes Aigner currently sits in first place after his victory last start in Prague and leads Czech paddler Vit Prindis by 11 points.

Local favourite Samuel Hernanz will be one to watch after he won bronze in front of his home crowd last year.

And finally to the K1W event. This event promises to be the pick of them all with little separating the top 10 paddlers so far.

Currently eight athletes have managed to crack the ton on the ICF standings with Slovakian Jana Dukatova currently sitting at the top on 152 points.

Dukatova, German Ricarda Funk and Li Lu of China have each recorded World Cup wins so far this season.

Fox looks set to lead the Australian charge as she currently sits third in the standings, 22 points behind Dukatova.

The U23 World Champion has reached the final at the venue the past two years and will be hoping it will be a case of third time lucky in the Pyrenees.

Joining Fox to fly the Australian flag will be Lawrence and Victorian Sarah Grant.

Grant in particular looks as though she is not far away from winning a maiden World Cup medal after finishing eighth at World Cup 1 in London.

The 28 year old currently sits 14th on the ICF Standings and is within striking distance of a place in the top ten.

Racing will get underway on Friday from 5pm AEST with the C1M heats up first.

The C1M, C1W and K1M finals will be raced on Saturday with the K1W and C2M to follow on Sunday.

Please follow the links below for more information.

Friday schedule (AEST):
5:00pm – C1M Heat 1st Run (Borrows/Jeffery/Fabris)
5:57pm – C1W Heat 1st Run (Fox/Lawrence/Borrows)
6:36pm – K1M Heat 1st Run (Delfour/Merritt/Watkins)
8:05pm – C1M Heat 2nd Run (Borrows/Jeffery/Fabris)
9:02pm – C1W Heat 2nd Run (Fox/Lawrence/Borrows)
9:41pm – K1M Heat 2nd Run (Delfour/Merritt/Watkins)
Midnight – K1W Heat 1st Run (Fox/Grant/Lawrence)
12:57am – C2M Heat 1st Run (Jeffery/Hodson)
1:30am – K1W Heat 2nd Run (Fox/Grant/Lawrence)
2:27am – C2M Heat 2nd Run (Jeffery/Hodson)

Other Links
 Official Website
 Start Lists/Live Results
 ICF Standings