Slovenian kayakers and canoeist are eager to start new season after winter training camps. Majority of best paddlers spent winter training in Australia. This year besides best slalomists also Slovenian sprint K2 Lovro Leban – Rok Kuk prepared for new season in the land ‘Down Under’. Competitors are satisfied with the work they did in the southern hemisphere.
Slalomists returned from their winter training camps in Australia and France in the beginning of March and now they prepare themselves for April selection races which might already give us the answer who will join Peter Kauzer in Olympic team for the games in London. In case the selection races won’t determine all the competitors for the Olympic games the final decision race will be European Championships in Augsburg. Peter Kauzer will travel to London at the end of the week, while some others among them Luka Božič and Sašo Taljat went to Augsburg. Extreme drought in Slovenia forced competitors to find other courses with better training conditions. Tacen power plant opens the dam three times weekly to ensure at least an hour of training on wild water for Slovenian slalomists, which is not enough during preparations for the new season.
Slalomists started at Australian Open and Oceania Championships during their winter training in Penrith and recorded some excellent results. “Start at Australian Open and Oceania Championships was a good test, because all the best competitors were there as well. Peter Kauzer finished second, second and fourth were Luka Božič and Sašo Taljat, Savšek was fourth, Berčič was sixth, Martin Albreht made a big improvement from last year and was fifth in the final of Oceania Championships, Eva Terčelj and Urša Kragelj were also very good. One was the best in heats while the other won in semifinal. So, all the competitors we count on in this season showed they are among the best,” Andrej Jelenc, team manager, evaluated the performances.
Peter Kauzer was very satisfied after his almost two months long training camp in Australia. “I am very satisfied with the things I did. I again trained more than I expected before the camp. The weather wasn’t as perfect as usual but for training this was better – we weren’t tired because of the heat. One race was good, the other not. My time was a second faster than of the others, but I made mistakes that were probably a consequence of lack of concentration after long and tiresome training,” Kauzer said.
World Champion will travel to London on Sunday where he’ll prepare at the Olympic course. “The weather is great, but there is no water, so I am really looking forward to training in London where I’ll be able to paddle on white water again. I’ll spent the most time in London from the Slovenian team, because I don’t need to qualify anymore, so I’m going for a week to London already now. After the selection races I’ll go back there for 14 more days and return just before the European Championships and after the EC I’ll go again to London,” Kauzer revealed his plans. He already received brand new boat with logos as IOC demands, so he’ll leave it in London until the Championships in Germany. Meanwhile he’ll train in his old boat. “I decided to start at selection races, because I want to get into competition rhythm. But I’ll miss the third World Cup race in La Seu d’Urgell, because I’d like to take some rest and train at home,” Kauzer added.
While Kauzer traditionally trains in Australia during winter, sprint kayakers Rok Kuk and Lovro Leban trained for the first time in the land ‘Down Under’. They trained in Brisbane together with Italian team. On a question if the training went as planned Lovro Leban answered: “Much better. I didn’t expect it to be that good. This was the first training camp on such a big scale for us. We usually go for 14 days and coach literally ‘kills us’ in those 14 days. Rok and I have problems many times, because we get fed up with each other and then we watch one another in the room when we’re tired, so I was afraid how we’ll manage to get by in two months, so we won’t fight or something similar, but everything was very peaceful. We trained really well, it’s almost impossible to train any harder. I am very satisfied and I feel privileged that we were able to go.”
After the race in Australia Lovro Leban counts the days until the first race which is scheduled for Saturday when Most na Soči will host national championships in 5000 metres. “I am looking forward, because I’d like to make a test to see how I improved during the winter,” added Leban. The most important race of the season for Leban and Kuk will come in May when Poznan will host European qualifications for the OG in London. Only one more space is available in men’s K2 1000 metres, so everything is connected with goal of getting an Olympic ticket. Špela Ponomarenko Janić still trains abroad. She’ll be in Portugal until the end of March and she plans to start at World Cup in Poznan and European Championships in Zagreb. Ponomarenko Janić is at this moment the only Slovenian sprinter who already has an Olympic place.