There was a feeling of Nostalgia as the La Seu d’Urgell World Cup kicked off after a rousing Opening Ceremony the previous evening. The Ceremony brought together many of the athletes, officials, organizers, politicians and volunteers from the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games to celebrate the 20 year milestone since the Games. The spirit of Barcelona ‘92 was seemingly channeled through the speeches and the ceremonial performances, paving the way for what has been a great first day of competition on the famed Parc del Segre Olympic course.
The ICF 2nd Vice President Richard Fox’s competed for Great Britain at the Barcelona Games and reflected on what it means to return to La Seu d’Urgell 20 years later and be a part of the 20 year celebrations.
“It feels the same in many ways,” said Fox. “I see familiar faces; people that were around here back then as organizers, athletes and officials, also people that were running the hotels and restaurants. It’s just great to see all these people recognized for their work and to see that the venue is still in great shape.”
tony estanguet" "la seu d'urgell" "world cup" spain 2012 france icf sportscene c1" src="/files/news/2012/Tony_Estanguet_1.jpg" style="margin-left: 0px; margin-right: 10px; float: left; width: 310px; height: 207px; " title="Tony Estanguet" />Spain’s Ander Elosegi and Jordi Domenjo post fastest times in Men’s C1
On the first day paddlers from the host country set the bar high with Men’s C1 Ander Elosegi delivering a blistering run that placed him at the top of the timesheet even with a 4 second penalty awarded. His second run was even faster and he completed it without picking up any penalties. His teammate Jordi Domenjo finished in 2nd place after two fast and clean runs. The best of the rest included France’s Tony Estanguet (3rd place) whose first run was enough to keep him in third place even after deciding against a second run.
Estanguet told the ICF, “I have been ill the last few days and confined to my room so I am happy to get one good run in that takes me through to the semi-final tomorrow.”
One of this season’s most consistent paddlers Alexander Slafkovsky (SVK) posted the fourth best time and Great Britain’s David Florence looks to have regained his form after delivering two runs with not a trace of the mistakes that cost him a place in the final last week in Pau.
The unpredictability of the Men’s K1 event this season continues into the third and final World Cup before the Olympic Games. Australia’s William Forsythe had the best result after two runs followed by Vivien Colober (FRA) and Vavrinec Hradilek (CZE), who as the highest ranked of the forty paddlers qualified for tomorrow’s semi-final, is still chasing a World Cup medal this season.
Also qualified are Spain’s Samuel Hernanz (7th) and Juan Crespo (18th). Current European Champion Daniele Molmenti (ITA) qualified in 10th place. Etienne Daille (FRA), last weekend’s gold medallist in Pau sat out the second run and was bumped down into 21st place but will be in the semi-final as well.
Boukpeti ready to make amends ahead of Olympic Games
Benjamin Boukpeti (TOG) who had been hoping for a mistake free weekend also made tomorrow’s semi final. The Toulouse based Togolese said the course in La Seu d’Urgell was one that he was very familiar with and likes because he lives only 2 ½ hours away and often trains here. Acknowledging that the little mistakes he made at the Cardiff and Pau World Cup cost him a place in the final said:
“I made some mistakes that cost me a better result, but in general I am happy with how I am doing. I am happy with my technique, practice runs and the training process has been going well and I believe I am getting close to my best level.”
“The strategy I am following is good and if I can correct all the little mistakes before the Games then the good result will follow. “
Asked whether he felt any more pressure at these upcoming Olympic Games than the previous two he competed in, the Beijing bronze medallist replied:
“At World Cups and World Championships there may be 100 boats in the lineup and at the Olympic Games there are only 25. This means that every little mistake costs you a place on the podium so the Games are all about precision, plus you can feel the crowd, you feel the cameras on you, and you feel the ambiance and the pressure.”
Nico Bettge tips Teammate Sideris Tasiadis, Estanguet and Martikan to medal at Games
Similarly Germany’s Nico Bettge who had been blindsided by penalties but this time managed to qualify for the semi-final in 11th place said:
“My season so far has been okay, 5th place in Cardiff and 18th place in Pau. Both results were as a result of some small mistakes that cost me big and my aim at this World Cup is to first make the final and hopefully get on the podium.”
Asked what his plans are after he concludes this first half of the Slalom World Cup season, and who he tips to medal in the C1 competition in London, the 12th Ranked paddler in the 2011 ICF Ranking said:
“After this World Cup I go home and rest a bit for the next 2 ½ months. I will also be in front of the TV cheering on my teammate Sideris Tasiadis who I hope will medal at the Games.”
“The biggest challengers for C1 gold will be Tony Estanguet (FRA) and of course Michal Martikan (SVK). Martikan has not been consistent in his performance in the past few years but you cannot discount him; everyone knows that he can be better at the Games. “
It was a 1 and 2 finish for last year’s Women’s C1 gold and silver medallist at the Bratislava World Championships. Current World Champion Katerina Huskova (CZE) and Bratislava silver medallist Nanqin Cen (CHN) both had clean first runs but such was Huskova’s dominance that even after acquiring a 50 second penalty in her second round she still managed to hold on to 1st place and qualify for tomorrow’s semi-final. Spain’s Nuria Vilarrubla finished in 3rd place. Also in tomorrow’s semi-final will be Rosalyn Lawrence (AUS) in 7th place and last weekend’s winner France’s Caroline Loir (9th place).
Paddlers face a hectic day of racing today with races beginning at 09h00 and finishing at 18h42 (CET). The competition will begin with C1M, K1M, C1W semi-finals.
The programme can be accessed here. For more information on the La Seu d’Urgell World Cup visit: http://laseudurgell2012.worldcup.events.slalom.canoeicf.com/.
Results can be accessed here.
The competition will be broadcast LIVE on Sport Plus, ESPN 3 (USA), SPORTSNET (Canada), Sportel and other networks. Please note that you can also watch the event live on the ICF video website: http://eurovision.digotel.com/icf/index.html.