The 2012 Youth & Masters World Championships have come to a conclusion and Sportscene spoke to International Rafting Federation Vice President Peter Micheler post event.
This year’s Championships produced some exciting racing across all four disciplines with the sprint, head to head and slalom disciplines being contested down recently re-developed Ceske Budejovice Whitewater Stadium, while the downriver was raced down the Vltava River, from Vyssi Brod to Rozmberg in the Czech Republic.
Micheler, a former canoe slalom star who represented West Germany for two decades, is now Vice President of the International Rafting Federation and was pleased with the event as a whole.
We started the event in Ceske Budejovice on the new artificial course there and we had a very good standard of competition.
The slalom discipline provided a real challenge for the younger athletes, having to navigate a highly technical and very demanding 14 gate course.
“It was a very tough course for the youth teams, and for all the teams it was an experience they have never had before.”
While competition was predominantly dominated by the Czech and Russian teams, the future of the sport looks bright with a promising spread of young athletes from across the world getting the invaluable experience of competing at a Youth World Championships, with 2012 seeing the likes of Brazil and Japan join the European nations for competition.
A strong sign leading into next year’s World Championships in New Zealand, with Indonesia to follow in 2014.
“There is definitely future potential. The teams will mix it up with the younger ones, some will step out of the boat and new ones come in and I guess we will see some of these new at the World Championships in New Zealand or the year after in Indonesia.”
One team that caught the eye of most onlookers was the men’s youth team lead by Antonin Hales who dominated their opposition, winning all four disciplines. Hales is one of many youngsters who will take the step up and competing at the European Championships in Lipno this weekend. The competition allows each nation to enter two boats in each class and provides them a chance to race in a more challenging environment.
When asked of his opinion of the Czech team Micheler responded, “We will have to wait and see, maybe they are already competing at the European Championships this week against the other teams of the Czech Republic, which are very strong here in Lipno because they know the river very well. It is very tough to find the right line in the downriver event and we will watch them.”
2013 and 2014
Over the next two years the IRF will host two global events, with New Zealand and Indonesia to host back to back World Championships in 2013 and 2014.
New Zealand is famous for its adventure lifestyle and natural wonders and the Kaituna River in Rotorua is no exception.
“The rivers there are very tough, the Kaituna River has the largest commercial drop off of seven metres, we don’t race that, but it is the same river and we are going to see a very high standard of competition there.”
Indonesia won the battle with Brazil to host the 2014 IRF World Championships and shapes as an interesting host for the event, with a large number of nations yet to raft in the country, but provides a chance for new nations to compete.