This weekend emerald Soča River is set to host another big Wildwater Canoeing competition of the 2013 season. After the European Championships in Bovec paddlers now await the start of the ICF Wildwater Canoeing Sprint World Championships in Solkan.
On home water, the Slovenian team are expecting great results, especially reigning world champion Nejc Žnidarčič who is vying for his third consecutive world sprint title.
The ICF Wildwater Canoeing Sprint World Championship will be the second of three major canoeing events this year in Slovenia. The first one – European Wildwater Canoeing Championships in Bovec – brought success for the Slovenian team, the second opportunity comes this weekend, while third will take place in August in Ljubljana, when world’s best slalom athletes will compete at the World Cup.
Slovenian look strong
As always, Slovenian competitors are among the favourites for medals and with knowledge of the water will inevitably have a slight advantage.
“This year we have major competitions at home therefore our team is stronger than usual. Our expectations are really high. Competitors showed good form already at the European Championships and now they are even stronger. The competition is harder at World Championships, but the European teams are still the strongest and I expect the same competitors to fight for top places. I do not want to talk about the medals, but for sure we are one of the best teams,” said Slovenian team leader Srečko Masle, himself a former World Champion.
The favourite in men’s kayak race will undoubtedly be Nejc Žnidarčič, who has won the World Championhips at the last two time of asking (2011 and 2012). The goal for Slovenian paddler is clear – to take a third consecutive title.
“This was the goal since I found out that the World Championships will take place in Solkan. I am very motivated, especially because I will compete on a course where I learned how to paddle. It will be a special feeling to compete on my home course. I am sure the Slovenians will have few medals by Saturday, so it will be easier for me and I won’t be under such pressure. I hope the show will be great and that many people will come to support us,” said Žnidarčič.
He experienced health problems few weeks ago, whilst doing pull-ups in training the bar broke and he fell on his knees. He suffered a sprained back that made everything, even walking, very difficult and painful.
Injury to Žnidarčič.
“I injured my back and I had to rest for eight days. Two weeks of training followed, but it was painful. I can paddle, but I can’t do anything in the gym. It’s not ideal, but the main thing is I can paddle normally. I am quite satisfied with my form, for sure I’m on a higher level than at the Europeans,” added Žnidarčič.
Žnidarčič will be the one to watch on Soča River, but many other excellent paddlers have already arrived in Solkan to prepare for the Championships. Besides the usually strong French, German and Czech paddlers, there are also others who will be tough opponents. The Italian team arrived in Solkan with a Slovenian born, Italian paddler, Jaka Jazbec , who already has many medals from Wildwater Canoeing Championships.
In canoe excellent Slovakian slalom competitor, Matej Benuš, who won a medal at the recent European Canoe Slalom Championships, will start. French team certainly expect a lot from their paddlers, especially from Guillaume Alzingre, who was the most successful paddler of the European Championships in Bovec where he won seven medals (six gold and a silver).
The opportunity to compete in front of a home crowd also lured the Olympic and double World Champions, Luka Božič and Sašo Taljat, back to Wildwater Canoeing.
Talking about the duos previous exceptional results, Sašo Taljat said, “That was in 2010, we don’t know how it will be now. We paddled downriver for the first time in a long time yesterday, so we’ll see, how it will turn out. We paddled in C2 twice two weeks ago on flatwater, but that is all the training we done”. Luka Božič added, “The competition has changed since then, so we don’t know what to expect.”
Mayor can't wait
Not only competitors, also the Mayor of Nova Gorica Matej Arčon looks forward to the competition, “I still remember the day I went to Paris with Branko Brezigar and Jakob Marušič and the ICF chose Solkan to be the venue of the Championships. This was a special honour and joy, plus special recognition for our club and federation. This is a nice promotion and the biggest sporting event that will be organised this year in the region of Goriška. I am certain that our competitors will have great results and that Nejc will become the World Champion for the third consecutive time.”
Organisers expect 180 competitors from 23 countries and five continents. The attraction of the championships will be Friday’s finals under the flashlights (the finals will start at 21.00). Also the president of Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, is expected to attend the Friday night finals. Besides the competition programme organisers are also preparing an additional events programme with concerts and special educational programmes for schools. After the opening ceremony one of the most popular Slovenian groups, Dan D, will have a concert at the square in Solkan.
Official website: http://www.socakayak.si/
20.00 Opening ceremony
10.00 Heats 1st run: C1w, C2m, K1w
13.00 Heats 2nd run: C1w, C2m, K1w
21.00 Finals: C1w, C2m, K1w
10.00 Heats 1st run: C1m, K1m
12.30 Heats 2nd run: C1m, K1m
16.00 Finals: C1m, K1m
12.00 Team race 1st run
14.00 Team race 2nd run