Prindis breaks through for first podium in Prague

Pic by Balint Vekassy

Czech paddler Vit Prindis has broken through for a canoe slalom World Cup K1 title on his home course in Prague, mastering the windy conditions to edge out his teammate and Olympic bronze medallist, Jiri Prskavec, for the title.

There were further celebrations for the capacity Czech crowd when the C2 combination of Jonas Kaspar and Marek Sindler won gold in the men’s final.

And Great Britain picked up gold and silver in the women’s C1 final, with European champion Kimberley Woods sweeping to victory ahead of Mallory Franklin.

Prindis was the fastest qualifier for the K1 final and the last athlete on the course, with Prskavec waiting at the finish having posted a sizzling 89.38, including a two-second penalty.

It meant Prindis had to be fast and clean, his perfect run of 88.55 enough to get him top spot on the podium.

“It means a lot, because I have raced here quite a few times and I have never been on the podium,” he said.

“I believe that I should be on the podium and I was hoping that one day I would be on top.

“I raced a very good qualification, semi-final and final, so I think I deserve to be on the podium.”

Germany’s Sebastian Schubert took the bronze in a time of 91.44 seconds.

The men’s C2 final was dominated by boats from France and the Czech Republic, with the host nation fielding three boats and France four.

Kaspar and Sindler, eighth in last year’s Olympics, dominated the early rounds, and were once again in top form in the final with a time of 104.66, ahead of France’s Olympic bronze medallists, Gauthier Klauss and Matthieu Peche (107.42) and another French crew, Pierre Picco and Hugo Biso (109.93)

“We had a dream run, we won all our races – qualification, semi-final and now final, it’s like a dream,” Sindler said.

“I think we really enjoyed the home atmosphere, the crowd was really loud and very nice here, so I don’t think it made us nervous.

“I think it was the advantage of the hometown. We were very well prepared and everything just clicked together today.”

The big surprise was the failure of Slovakia’s Olympic gold medallists, cousins Ladislav and Peter Skantar, to make the final.

There were also plenty of surprises in the women’s C1, with multiple world champion, Jessica Fox (Australia), fastest qualifier Nadine Weratschnig (Austria) and Nuria Vilarrubla (Spain) all missing gates and picking up 50 second penalties, ruling out them out of the final.

Kimberley Woods backed up her strong European form to win gold in 111.15, with Franklin picking up six seconds of penalties to finish second in 115.13, and Czech Monika Jancova taking bronze 117.56.

“I kept it calm, kept the boat running and glad that I came out with a clean run, which was very difficult on this course,” Woods said.

“2017 is going really well, winning Europeans and coming away with a win, I just hope I can keep the good form and move on to kayak as well.

“I was fortunate to go to Rio to have a watch, and it made me more hungry. So to start a new Olympic cycle with two wins is really good. I want to be one of the girls who moves the benchmarks for C1.”

The Czech Republic’s Amalie Hilgertova won gold in the women’s extreme canoe slalom event, while New Zealand’s Mike Dawson won the men’s gold.

The ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup 1 finishes in Prague on Sunday.

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