There were surprises aplenty at the 2021 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in Bratislava with Elena Apel winning women’s C1 gold on Sunday (26 September).
Just 24 hours after her K1 silver, 23-year-old Apel claimed her first international win by 0.31s from Britain’s Olympic silver medallist Mallory Franklin with Czech teenager Gabriela Satkova taking bronze.
Apel incurred a two-second penalty for hitting a gate, but her speed on the course meant that did not alter the result.
Tokyo 2020 gold medallist Jess Fox failed the make the final after missing a gate in her semi-final, just as she had done in the K1 on Saturday, although there was some consolation for the Australian as she won the extreme slalom title.
Apel's German team-mate, defending world champion and Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist Andrea Herzog, also missed out on the C1 final.
In the men’s event, Vaclav Chaloupka of the Czech Republic denied home favourite Alexander Slafkovsky a glorious swansong by just 0.15s.
The 38-year-old Slovak posted the quickest time in what could be his last international competition, but a two-second penalty meant the veteran had to settle for silver with Germany’s Franz Anton completing the podium.
Fox toils as Funk makes history in K1
With six individual titles at previous World Championships, and Olympic gold in Tokyo, Australia hero Fox was fully expected to add to her win count in the Slovakian capital.
But her form deserted her in Saturday's K1 semi-finals - the event in which she won bronze in Japan - as she missed a gate which resulted in a 50-second penalty and an early exit.
The same fate befell Slovenia's reigning world champion Eva Tercelj.
In her absence, Ricarda Funk underlined her dominance in the discipline by adding the world crown to her Olympic title.
The German became the first canoe slalom athletes to win both golds in the same year, claiming her first world title ahead of team-mate Apel.
Funk finished on 94.80, including a two-second penalty, ahead of Apel's clean run of 97.31.
Britain's Kimberley Woods - who was left unable to walk after a car crash a week ago - took bronze with a two-second penalty costing her the silver.
There were shocks in the men's K1 semi-finals too with the local hopes all failing to reach the final.
Reigning world and Olympic champion Jiri Prskavec was just 0.05s outside the qualification spots, with Olympic silver medallist Vavrinec Hradilek and Vit Prindis both missing gates,.
Boris Neveu regained the men's title seven years after his first triumph with a scintillating run on a tough course.
Four days after helping France to K1 team gold, the 35-year-old was one of just two paddlers to post clean performances in the final.
His time of 83.92 was enough for victory from Italy's Marcello Beda (87.75) with Joan Crespo of Spain in third on 87.90 after incurring a two-second penalty.
With his mind already on a home Olympic Games in 2024, Neveu told the ICF, "It was very important for me to finish this season with a medal after a big mistake in the Olympics.
"It's always important to have a good start in an Olympic cycle, I hope it will continue like this until Paris."