Canoe Slalom Worlds Make Waves in Return to U.S.

(ATR) After 25 years, the canoe slalom world championships returned to the United States.

(ATR) After 25 years, the canoe slalom world championships returned to the United States – an event which ICF secretary general Simon Toulson deemed a success.

Elite level canoeists and kayakers from more than 40 nations took to the artificial whitewater course at Deep Creek Lake in McHenry, Maryland, Sept. 17-21.

"The event was very well run and executed. It was extremely successful and with a USA win in one category it meant a great deal to the local audiences," Toulson told Around The Rings.

Toulson added, "The reception was excellent – the United States has the largest amount of recreational canoeists in the world and support during the competition was excellent."

The highlight for the host nation was Fabien Lefèvre – a French born paddler competing in just his second season for the U.S. – racing to a gold medal in canoe singles. Lefèvre, 32, further established himself as one of the world’s top paddlers over the past two decades and a medal threat for Rio 2016.

"The environment there was very important," Lefèvre told ATR. "Ten seconds before the race I had goose bumps on my arms because of the crowd cheering for me. It was magical and I’m personally thankful to everyone for helping me to reach that zone once again in my life."

Lefèvre increased his total of world championship medals to 14, including seven gold. His victory was for the first for the U.S. at world championships in 12 years.

Regarding the organization of the event, Lefèvre said, "If I compare it with other world championships, it is on the same page. I think United States Canoe & Kayak and Team USA needed the event to help promote the sport."

Toulson also advised that the ICF hopes to expand its current world cup tour – which in 2015 will once again consist of five venues, all in Europe – to new nations and continents.

"The world cup circuit can develop either in Asia, Oceania or Americas," Toulson said. "To keep the costs down we need several venues so we can run back-to-back competitions. Discussions are ongoing with several countries including the USA."

In 2015, the canoe slalom world championships will be contested at the London 2012 Olympic venue – the Lee Valley Whitewater Center.

A Family Affair

Australian Jessica Fox won double gold in Deep Creek, swiftly paddling to both the canoe and kayak singles titles.

The 20-year-old phenom emulated the accomplishments of her parents from 25-years earlier. Fox’s father Richard – competing for Great Britain – and mother Myriam – competing for France – won kayak gold medals in 1989, the last time the championships were staged in the U.S.

Fox also has an Olympic bronze medal from the London 2012 Games and was a Youth Olympic Games champion in 2010.

The talented young Australian has quickly established herself as the ‘Queen’ of the sport cementing her status an early favorite for Rio 2016.

"I haven't really thought too much about Rio yet, I still have to qualify, but this is a real confidence boost," Fox said. "It shows I’m on the right track."

Olympic Venues Update

Plans for the troubled Rio 2016 whitewater venue in Deodoro are in the final phases prior to construction. The venue is scheduled to open in late 2015.

"Ground work has started in Deodoro. The construction for the course will start in the next few weeks and looking to be ready for athletes to be able to paddle by October 2015," Toulson advised.

"The venue is on schedule to be completed in time for the Games in Rio 2016."

"The venue modeling for the Canoe slalom course was completed in Prague earlier this year which helped the designers confirm the layout," Toulson informed. "This will save money and time for the constructors."

Regarding plans for Tokyo 2020, Toulson said a site for a venue has been chosen.

"We have moved the Canoe Slalom venue 300 meters from the original location," said the canoe federation executive.

"Everyone seems happy with this solution and the ICF will visit in November to confirm the location and suitability for the competition," he said. " Canoe sprint plans are being worked through and are progressing well."

Canoe Polo Worlds in France

The 11th edition of the Canoe Polo world championships are ongoing in Thury-Harcourt, France, a small town in Normandy about two hours west of Paris.

"The Canoe Polo world championships are going very well with major support from people in Thury-Harcourt and Caen," said Simon Toulson. "The venue is packed and the finals are going to be an amazing experience."

More than 500 men and women from 27 nations are competing in the unique team sport, Sept. 23-28.

"Following the success of this sport in the World Games it continues to grow and be popular with spectators," Toulson said.

The Netherlands and Germany are the respective men’s and women’s defending world champions.

Written by Brian Pinelli

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