While Great Britain’s David Florence made history at this weekend’s Cardiff World Cup in Switzerland, winning his second gold medal of the weekend in C2, for the U.S. all eyes were on who would make the final cut for the five-spot Olympic team heading to London. In the end, it was Scott Parsons (K1), Caroline Queen (WK1), Eric Hurd/Jeff Larimer (C2) and Casey Eichfeld (C1)...
Knowing that an Olympic spot was on the line, the U.S. had several paddlers vying for London, with the event serving as the final phase of the team’s selection process. In the end, Eric Hurd and Jeff Larimer sealed the deal in the Men’s C2 semi-final. The duo had been sitting in pole position for what seemed like months but finally won the place ahead of Devin McEwan and Casey Eichfeld, with a 10th place in the C2 semi-final..
“We have just been in this zone for so long, that having qualified it doesn’t feel different, but I am sure it will hit us a bit later,” says Hurd.
For the women’s K-1, despite a solid showing by world freestyle champion Emily Jackson and others, it was Caroline Queen nabbing the Olympic spot; with Scott Parsons winning the Men’s K1 spot and Casey Eichfeld switching from C-2 to earn the Men’s C1 position for London, narrowly besting Benn Fraker, who earned the spot in Beijing.
“We're proud of the quality of racing we've seen from our athletes,” says Joe Jacobi, CEO of USA Canoe/Kayak. “Scott and Casey earned every bit for their Olympic spots overcoming tough conditions, changing schedules and outstanding performances from their teammates. With Scott, you can see all the improvement of the past four years since Beijing -- experience, leadership, perspective and process - the kind of attributes you associate with a three-time Olympian.
For Casey, coming over to the C-1 category after racing C-2 in Beijing was a huge challenge. He never doubted he could make the jump and really hit his form last year on the World Cup circuit. His work ethic, forward thinking and confidence will serve him and our program well. We could not ask for better Olympians than Scott and Casey to anchor this team heading into London.”
As for C-2, where Hurd and Larimer eventually finished 9th in the final with David Florence and Richard Hounslow (GBR) winning gold, the category close to Jacobi’s heart, with his gold medal performance in 1992. And he’s equally excited about this year’s U.S. propects. "To win the Olympic C-2 spot by making the Final is a great exclamation point on the selection process for Jeff and Eric,” he adds. “The journey to becoming an Olympian has been long for both athletes but we’re thrilled to see them achieve this goal. Not only will they represent the U.S. well in London, their experience and teamwork will add an exciting dynamic to our team environment."
He sings equal praise for Queen in women’s K1. “I coached both her and Ashley, the their depth is beyond words. As intense as competition can be among lifelong friends, they handle it as well as anyone I've ever seen. I know Caroline will embrace the best of the Olympic movement and will drive to the best her paddling of her young career in London.”
The Cardiff World Cup was the first of the ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup series. The athletes will now head south to the Pyrenees, where the Pau World Cup (FRA) takes place.
Full results can be accessed HERE
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