ICF Slalom World Cup, Pau France, Nov. 7-9th 2020 – Reports, Results, Videos
Tokyo-bound athletes show class in Pau. Marie-Zelia Lafont of France and Martin Dougoud of Switzerland tamed an unforgiving Pau canoe slalom course to win kayak world cup gold on the first day of finals action on Saturday, while Jegou makes history for Ireland as Satila again shows her class in the C1 classes.
By Ross Solly Photos: ©ICF
Lafont and Dougoud were able to hold their nerve on a day when most athletes struggled. Only one athlete completed a clean final in the women’s K1, while only the top three men completed the course without a gate touch.
Lafont had one gate touch, but her final time of 106.57 proved quick enough to head off French teammate and Tacen world cup gold medalist, Romane Prigent, who posted a time of 110.55. Prigent also had a gate touch.
Ukraine’s Viktoriia Us showed the benefit of keeping a clean sheet by posting 111.92 to take the bronze.
Lafont’s only other world cup victory came on the same Pau course back in 2016, and she said it was a good finish to a year which also saw her qualify for her second Olympics.
“It’s special, even though the best are not here the French team is very strong,” she said.“I was not too relaxed, because there are a lot of international competitors so I need to be prepared. But I am very happy with the way I am paddling.”
Dougoud, who will make his Olympic debut next year, had never won a world cup medal before this weekend. But by staying out of trouble he was able to post a time of 95.11, 0.74 seconds ahead of Czech Tomas Zima’s time of 95.85, with Argentina’s Thomas Bersinger third in 98.77.
Dougoud is based in Pau as he prepares for Tokyo, and said the home course advantage is important.
“I made some mistakes, but it was a good run,” he said.“Last year I was a little bit stressed and made a lot of mistakes because of the Olympic selection. It’s really strange and really special, so maybe today I was more relaxed.”
Jegou makes history for Ireland as Satila again shows her class
The national anthem of Ireland rang out for the first time at an ICF canoe slalom world cup C1 event on Sunday after Liam Jegou won the men’s final in Pau, France.
Brazil’s Ana Satila celebrated back-to-back gold medals in the women’s C1, after narrowly squeezing into the 10-person final.
The last time Ireland won a medal in the men’s C1 came back in 1993, when Mike Corcoran took a silver medal in La Seu. Since then Ireland has won a handful of medals in non-world cup events, including a bronze and a silver medal for Jegou in U23 and junior world championships.
There are no whitewater training facilities in Ireland, so Jegou, who has already qualified for next year’s Tokyo Olympics, bases himself at the Pau course. It gave him confidence going into his first senior world cup final on Sunday.
“I’m really over the moon,” the Irishman said.“I’ve been pushing myself really hard now for several years, and all summer, preparing for events like this. So I’m absolutely thrilled to put down a big run like this in the seniors, it means a lot.“I’m trying not to think about Tokyo, I’m trying to just get better as an athlete and a paddler, and whatever happens, happens.”
Jegou was one of only three athletes in the men’s final to escape a penalty, his time of 100.35 putting him safely ahead of Czech Vaclav Chaloupka, who won his first world cup medal, in 101.08, with Switzerland’s Thomas Koechlin finishing third in 101.96.
Brazil’s Satila broke through for her first C1 world cup gold medal in Slovenia last month, and followed up with an even more convincing win on Sunday. The two-time Olympian posted a time of 115.39, which included a two-second penalty, to finish more than six seconds ahead of Ukraine’s Viktoriia Us.
Satila, who nearly missed the final after picking up six seconds in penalties in the semi-finals, threw her paddle away in delight after crossing the finish line.“I was really happy, it had been a hard week for me, with so many things to fix and solve,” she said.“I tried to just focus on my run and do my best in this race, and I was happy because I really enjoy racing, and I really enjoyed this final, so when I finished the race and saw the time, that was a big relief.”
Satila will return to Brazil next week for a short break, before beginning preparations for her third Olympic Games, where she feels confident she will finally be able to show her best.
“Everything is so different,” Satila said.“In London I was so young and I couldn’t even enjoy everything that was happening to me, and Rio was a really hard result.“I tried to learn a lot from all the mistakes that I did, and now for the first time I really feel ready and excited to race and to represent my country again.”
Silver represented a first-ever C1 world cup medal for Us, in a time of 121.64, and a second medal for the weekend for the 27-year-old Ukranian after her bronze in Saturday’s K1 final.
17-year-old Czech Tereza Kneblova also made her first world cup podium, finishing third in 122.15.
None of the female finalists were able to complete the challenging Pau course cleanly, with only four of the ten avoiding a 50-second penalty for missing a gate. The three Spanish finalists, Miren Lazkano, Nuria Vilarrubla and Klara Olazabal, each missed one gate, which robbed them of a clean sweep of the medals.
The ICF canoe and extreme slalom world cup brings to a close a shorted international season, with only two world cups held due to Covid-19. The 2021 program currently includes four senior world cups and a senior and junior/U23 world championships.
Marie-Zelia LAFONT (FRA) 106.57 (2 seconds penalty)
Romane PRIGENT (FRA) 110.55 (2)
Viktoriia US (UKR) 111.92 (0)
Martin DOUGOUD (SUI) 95.11 (0)
Tomas ZIMA (CZE) 95.95 (0)
Thomas BERSINGER (ARG) 98.77 (0)
Ana SATILA (BRA) 115.39 (2 seconds penalties)
Viktoriia US (UKR) 121.64 (2)
Tereza KNEBLOVA (CZE) 122.15 (2)
Liam JEGOU (IRL) 100.35 (0)
Vaclav CHALOUPKA (CZE) 101.08 (0)
Thomas KOECHLIN (SUI) 101.96 (0)