Published on mars 18th, 2024 | by Kayak Session https://www.kayaksession.com/img-current-issue/upload-your-video.png

Champion Race 2024 | Race Report

The two qualifying heats in the traditional format saw victories from Spain’s Nuria VILARRUBLA and Markel IMAZ in the canoe category, while France’s Romane PRIGENT and Poland’s Mateuz POLACZYK triumphed in the kayak races. The heats yielded surprises, with some top seeds failing to advance and unexpected paddlers showcasing exceptional performance.

Spectators gather at Parc Aquaparc in Pau, France for Champions Race 2024 (Photo by Romain Perchicot)

Before delving into the finals, let’s examine the course, crafted by Antoine Roux, the esteemed coach of the International Slalom Academy. Consisting of 12 gates, including 4 stop-gates, the course featured a dynamic mix of staggered sections, demanding rotations, and challenging roller crossings, compelling athletes to make precise technical decisions. Paddlers were tasked with pushing the boundaries, navigating tight trajectories, executing precise stop-gates, and maintaining proximity to the poles in pursuit of victory. True to its promise, the course delivered thrilling action, punctuated by numerous manoeuvres and a captivating spectacle.

C1 Women putting out their best time possible out on course in Pau.(Photo by Romain Perchicot)

C1 Women Final:

18 paddlers competed in this intense final, facing a challenging course that demanded risk-taking to succeed. With only four athletes achieving clean runs (0 passes) and seven incurring 50-second penalties, the competition was fierce from the start.

Senior Category:

England’s Mallory FRANKLIN emerged as the dominant force in the final, securing a commanding victory with a lead of more than three seconds.
Ukraine’s Victoria US claimed the second position, showcasing a strong performance.
Poland’s Klaudia ZWOLINSKA rounded up the podium, finishing five seconds behind the leader.

Junior Category:

In the junior category, Czech Republic celebrated a hat-trick of victories with Valentyna KORCIROVA clinching the top spot.
Natalie ERLOVA and Andrea MOTTLOVA, also representing Czech Republic, secured the second and third positions respectively, completing the podium sweep.

This final showcased exceptional talent and determination, with athletes pushing their limits to conquer the challenging course.

C1 Men putting down the fastest time for finals in Pau. (Photo by Romain Perchicot)

C1 Men Final:

The final featured 19 determined paddlers facing a challenging course that tested their skills to the limit. With only five athletes managing clean runs (0 passes) and nine receiving 50-second penalties, the competition was intense and unforgiving.

Senior Category:

Spaniard Miquel TRAVE asserted his dominance once again, securing his third consecutive victory in spectacular fashion.
France’s Adrien FISHER claimed the second position, showcasing a strong performance.
Ireland’s Liam JEGOU rounded up the top three, standing out from the competition.

Junior Category:

In the junior category, Czech Republic’s Jonas HEGGER emerged victorious, showcasing exceptional talent.
Frenchman Felix CHEVALLIER and Spaniard Oeir DIAS secured the second and third positions respectively, displaying remarkable skill and determination.

Racers on the side watching fellow athletes cruise down the course. (Photo by Romain Perchicot)

The final witnessed outstanding performances from top contenders, with Miquel TRAVE reaffirming his status as the greatest of all time in the sport. Meanwhile, the junior category provided a glimpse of future talent, with young paddlers demonstrating their potential on the challenging course.

Spains Leire Goni staying focused and taking victory. (Photo by Romain Perchicot)

K1 Women Final:

Nineteen skilled paddlers navigated the challenging course, facing tough conditions that resulted in only six clean runs (0 penalties) among the competitors. With additional challenges including five 50-second penalties, the competition was intense and tightly contested.

Senior Category:

Spain’s Leire GONI emerged victorious, delivering a stellar performance to claim the top spot.
France’s Romane PRIGENT secured the second position, closely followed by her compatriot Emma VUITTON, highlighting their strong showing in the final.

Junior Category:

In the junior category, Czech Republic’s Klara VOJTIKOVA showcased her talent and determination, securing the top position.
French paddler Camille VUITTON claimed the second position, with her compatriot Bara GALUSKOVA rounding up the podium, demonstrating their promising skills in the sport.

The final witnessed fierce competition and impressive displays of skill from both senior and junior competitors, with Leire GONI emerging as the standout performer in the senior category. Meanwhile, the junior category showcased the depth of talent among young paddlers, setting the stage for exciting prospects in the future of the sport.

Michal Pasiut of Poland taking the win in the K1 Mens Final. (Photo by Romain Perchicot)

K1 Men Final:

The men’s K1 final unfolded in an atmosphere of intense competition, with 19 paddlers vying for victory on the challenging course. The top 15 contenders were remarkably close, separated by a mere five-second margin, while penalties plagued those who deviated off course.

Out of 19 participants, the top 15 paddlers remained tightly packed, showcasing the fierce competitiveness of the event. Deviations off course resulted in a 50-point penalty for some competitors, adding an element of challenge and risk to the competition. The intense competition and constant shifts in leadership kept the suspense at its peak, creating an electric atmosphere reminiscent of a high-stakes penalty shoot-out in the final of a World Cup.

Amidst the intense battles and nail-biting moments, the men’s K1 final provided a thrilling showcase of skill, determination, and fuelled excitement.

In a thrilling finish, Poland’s Michal PASIUT clinched victory by a mere 11 hundredths of a second, narrowly edging out France’s Benjamin RENIA, who had secured the second position in 2023, and Anatole DELASSUS, who finished 0.87 seconds behind.

Titouan ESTANGUET delivered an impressive performance, securing the fifth position overall, trailing the winner by just one second. Notably, he outpaced many of Europe’s top paddlers. Joining him on the podium were Jonah HANRAHAN from the UK and Unai OTEIZA from the Basque Country, both colleagues from the Pôle Espoir in Pau.

Champions Race 2024 course lit up in the night for racers! (Photo by Romain Perchicot)
K1 Women’s Prize Giving. (Photo by Romain Perchicot)
K1 Men’s Prize Giving. (Photo by Romain Perchicot)
C1 Men’s Prize Giving. (Photo by Romain Perchicot)
C1 Women’s Prize Giving. (Photo by Romain Perchicot)

Following each event, a grand podium ceremony was held, adorned with pomp and ceremony. The winners were bestowed with prizes such as Predator helmets, ZuluPack waterproof bags, and substantial prize money for the seniors. Additionally, the Jurançon winery graciously rewarded all finalists with a bottle of Jurançon in the race’s distinctive colours.

The conclusion of the Champion Race marked the culmination of the winter season at the Aquasports Park. The entire team extends their best wishes to all the athletes who graced the waters this winter, and eagerly anticipates an unforgettable winter in 2025, along with the fourth edition of the Champion Race!

Head over to https://parcaquasports.fr/champion-race/ to learn more about this event!

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