YOG stars light up ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships

02 Oct 2017

Stars of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) were among the standout performers at the 2017 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships, which were held in Pau (France) from 26 September to 1 October.

Australia’s Jessica Fox has enjoyed great success on the senior stage since she won gold in the K1 slalom at the YOG Singapore 2010, and was going for a third successive C1 world title in Pau.

Her impressive run in the event came to an end on the French rapids, however, as she finished in sixth place, more than 10 seconds behind winner Mallory Franklin.

The 23-year-old – who won K1 bronze at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 – managed to put that disappointment behind her though, as she bounced back to win the K1 title in stunning fashion.

Having only scraped into the final in 10th place, Fox posted an incredible 97.14 run in the final, clinching gold by more than four seconds ahead of Slovakia’s Jana Dukátová.

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“This one is really special,” Fox said afterwards. “Yesterday was really disappointing and exhausting and draining, and I knew I had to come back today with a fresh start and try and make that final.

“Sometimes in training I’m able to do things to rival the guys, but then in racing I’m too safe. Today I’m really proud of that race because I feel like I attacked it the way I wanted to.”

Earlier in the championships, Fox had joined with her sister, Noemie, and Rosalyn Lawrence to win silver in the C1 team event, while she also won bronze in the K1 team event alongside Lawrence and Kate Eckhardt.

Today I’m really proud of that race because I feel like I attacked it the way I wanted to. Jessica Fox

Fox’s three medals made her the most decorated athlete at the World Championships, but other YOG stars also stood out, with a familiar face finishing above Fox in the K1 team standings. Austria’s Viktoria Wolffhardt had won K1 bronze behind Fox in Singapore, but in Pau she was able to finish ahead of the Australian as part of the Austrian trio that won silver.

Like Fox, fellow YOG star Jiří Prskavec, who won K1 bronze in Singapore in 2010, has also shone on the senior circuit in recent years and was looking to defend his K1 world title in Pau.

But while the 24-year-old was unable to make it past the semi-finals, he was able to take solace in winning a second successive world title in the K1 team event alongside Ondřej Tunka and Vít Přindiš.

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Prskavec’s Czech team-mate Amálie Hilgertová was another YOG alumna in medal-winning form in Pau, with the bronze medallist in the K1 slalom at the YOG Nanjing 2014 among those competing in the new extreme slalom discipline.

The action-packed event, which was being held for the first time at the World Championships, involves four athletes racing alongside each other down a modified slalom course. And Hilgertová – whose aunt is double Olympic champion Štěpánka Hilgertová – won her heat and semi-final to qualify for the medal race, where she claimed bronze behind Brazil’s Ana Sátila and inaugural world champion Caroline Trompeter, of Germany.

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