Thanks to France’s Fabien Lefevre, the U.S. made it to the medal stand at the 2014 ICF Canoe Slalom World Champions in Deep Creek, Md. Now paddling for the U.S., Lefevre, in only his second season competing internationally in C-1, used his speed and boat positioning to win the gold medal in C-1. But that was it as far as podiums for the U.S.
Last to go in the final, the 32-year-old Lefevre delivered a faster run than his semifinal effort to secure gold. “It’s a strange feeling,” he says. “I did not expect that I would be able to achieve that [gold] in the C1 class so quickly. My goal was to bring gold to the U.S. and it’s done. I’m really happy for my country.”
Benjamin Savsek (SLO) took the silver, adding to his bronze from last season’s World Championships, with Germany’s Franz Anton completing the podium.
In Men’s K-1, Lefevre’s former teammates proved their prowess, with France making it a clean sweep. France’s Boris Neveu, Sebastien Combot and Mathieu Biazizzo took the top three spots. Michal Smolen finished in the highest U.S. position, taking 13th based on his semi-final results, with teammate Richard Powell finishing 16th.
“I’m really excited for the French team it was a very good day with three medals,” says gold medalist Neveu, whose time of 101.61 bested Combot’s 102.34 nearly three-quarters of a second back. “I concentrated on my run. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough to just beat Seb so I’m very happy.”
In the women’s events, it Australia’s Jessica Fox’s time to shine. Coming on the heels of her women’s K1 silver medal in the London Olympics, Fox won the gold in both the Women’s C-1 and K-1 categories, becoming a double-World Champion.
First came her win in C-1, where the 20-year-old appears to be an unstoppable force. Despite making a couple of errors, her flat line speed was enough to secure gold. “It was a really tough battle, but I was happy to cross the line in first despite a few errors,” she says. “I charged it down from the top section and kind of didn’t stop until the finish. I always feel a bit of pressure and you know being the world number one and winning a few World Cup races there’s always a little bit of expectation, but I like that.” Mallory Franklin (GBR) also repeated her efforts from the 2013 event in Prague, winning the silver for the second time at a World Championships, with Oriane Rebours (FRA) collecting the bronze.
Fox rose to the top again in Women’s K-1, finishing in 114.01 to second-place finisher Fiona Pennie of Great Britain 0.97 seconds back. Germany’s Melanie Pfeifer took the bronze at 120.01. The highest-placing U.S. female in K-1 was Dana Mann, taking 23rd.
“I saw that someone had posted a 114, so I knew that I just had to go out there and be on line,” she says. “I felt that I got into a rhythm early on and I just managed to keep the flow, and to finish in the lead is unbelievable. When you’re last and you’ve still got your run to go, everyone’s eyes turn to you, but I’ve had a bit of experience with it in C-1 so I think over the last couple of seasons I’ve managed to translate that in to the kayak. Gate fives, nine and 14 were probably the key gates that I could have improved on. I just managed to run the boat well in those ups and be a bit higher than in my semifinals, and then just running on adrenaline and hearing the crowd and my teammates cheering me on really pushed me to dig deeper.”
After finishing second in the semi-finals, in Men’s C2 Men, Luka Bozic and Saso Taljat (SLO) took the top spot, negotiating the 24-gate course clean. “Its more difficult if you go through to the final in second place. It’s better if you go through in tenth,” says Taljat. “But, we had a good feeling after the semis so it wasn’t so bad. We were just concerned about the wind but it went ok. Gate number 19 we did a good spin and I think we gained a lot of time there.”
Adds Bozic: “We don’t talk during the run, we just have to survive.”
France’s Pierre Picco and Hugo Biso gained the silver in men’s C-2, with Ladislav and Peter Skantar (SVK) winning their second World Championship bronze in as many years. For the U.S., Devin McEwan and Casey Eichfeld finished 15th.
C1 Men Team Final
Gold – Slovakia
Silver – Czech republic
Bronze – Slovenia
C1 Women Team Final
Gold – Czech Republic
Silver – Great Britain
K1 Men Team Event
Gold – France
Silver – Czech Republic
Bronze – Great Britain
K1 Women’s team Finals
Gold – France
Silver – Austria
Bronze – Slovakia
C2 Men’s Team Finals
Gold – France
Silver – Slovakia
Bronze – Czech Republic
Gold – Boris Neveu (FR)
Silver – Sebastian Combot (FR)
Bronze – Mathieu Biazizzo (FR)
Full results and event information – www.deepcreek2014.com
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