Funk and Prindis thrill 8000 fans at world championship slalom finals
Germany’s Ricarda Funk thrilled a capacity home crowd by retaining her world title and Czech Vit Prindis finally broke through for his first crown on a pulsating day of action at the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in Augsburg.
Funk showed no signs of pressure as she chased down the lightning speed time set by Australian rival Jessica Fox, watched on by German IOC President Thomas Bach, and competing on the course where canoe slalom made its Olympic debut 50 years ago.
“It’s just amazing, the pressure was there, it was high, the preparation was difficult for me, and now that I was able to put down such a good run, I’m just happy,” Funk said.
“Of course it was hard, when you are the current world champion and you are on the start line, you can really feel the pressure, and then this amazing crowd. But they just helped me.
“Last year was super special, it was my dream, but this year is super special as well. Winning in front of family and friends is just the biggest thing I can imagine. I believe in myself, and I know what I am capable of, but I also know what the other girls are capable of, so I’m just so glad it worked out today.”
Fellow German Elena Lilik, a silver medalist at last year’s world titles, finished with the bronze, a two second penalty for a gate touch keeping her out of the silver medal position.
Vit Prindis thought he had his first world title in the bag last year, before a massive mistake late in his final run saw him slide down the leaderboard.
There was no repeat of that mistake on Saturday, the 33-year-old Czech finishing 0.71 seconds ahead of Italy’s Giovanni De Gennaro, with defending world champion Boris Neveu of France taking bronze.
“I was thinking how I have won eight world cups in the past few seasons, but never a world championships,” Prindis said.
“I was close once, but it couldn’t be better than doing it here in legendary Augsburg. It’s really special, everything in canoe slalom history begins here, and I’m super happy with the performance.
“My family finally arrived today, they left Prague at 4am, and I’m super happy that they could be here, to enjoy the atmosphere. I can’t wait to see them.”
Czech teammate and Tokyo Olympic champion posted the fastest raw time in the final, but two gate touches saw him drop from first to fifth.
IOC President Thomas Bach said the atmosphere at the Augsburg venue was incredible.
“All the fans coming out, cheering the athletes, this is what the sport is about,” President Bach said.
“It’s a great Olympic legacy, 50 years from ’72, and to see here everything in good shape, and the athletes enjoying it, it’s a great example of how Olympic legacy should be.”
The ICF Canoe and Extreme Slalom World Championships conclude on Sunday with the men’s and women’s canoe and extreme finals.
- FUNK Ricarda (GER) 101.14 (0 seconds in penalties)
- FOX Jessica (AUS) 102.45 (0)
- LILIK Elena (GER) 103.99 (2)
- PRINDIS Vit (CZE) 94.78 (0)
- DE GENNARO Giovanni (ITA) 95.49 (0)
- NEVEU Boris (FRA) 95.75 (0)