Slovenian selection races are getting more and more intense. Urša Kragelj won in women’s kayak event of the third selection race in Tacen and Dejan Kralj – Simon Hočevar topped the men’s C2 event. Benjamin Savšek won for a third time in men’s C1 and Peter Kauzer was again the fastest in K1m. Kauzer is preselected for the team based on his successes in previous season.
The heats of the ICF ranking race in Tacen were very important for Slovenian slalom paddlers because they counted as the third selection race for Olympic team and slalom team that will compete at European Championships in Germany and World Cup series. Luka Božič – Sašo Taljat and canoeist Benjamin Savšek were still undefeated after the first two races, but with Božič and Taljat finishing behind Kralj and Hočevar, things got much more stressful before the last two selection races on Sunday when semi-final and final run will count. Kralj and Hočevar finished the heats in second place, while Božič and Taljat finished fourth. The fastest duo in heats was Masoero – Benetti (ITA), while Camporesi – Ferrari (ITA) finished third. This was the first win for Kralj and Hočevar in selection race series, so the Sunday’s semi-final and final run might bring some surprising developments. In case Kralj and Hočevar finish in semi-final or final run in front of Božič and Taljat, the better placed boat at European Championships in Augsburg will go to Olympic Games, but if Božič and Taljat finish the semi-final and final run as the best Slovenian boat they will directly qualify for London (at least four wins at selection races are required for direct Olympic spot). “We are very satisfied, but we’ll need to paddle well also tomorrow. We’ve done something, but there’s still a lot to do. We hope for the best,” said Dejan Kralj. Simon Hočevar has more worries, because he injured himself during the second run, so he went to the therapy right after the race, but the start of the duo Kralj – Hočevar at Sunday’s selection races isn’t endangered.
Even more complicated is the situation in women’s K1 event, where three selection races brought three different winners, which means that the best two girls from the selection races held in Solkan and Tacen will fight for Olympic spot at EC in Augsburg. The highest ranked competitor in Germany will go to the Olympics. Nina Mozetič won the first selection race in Solkan, Eva Terčelj was the best at the second race in Tacen, while Urša Kragelj won in heats of ICF ranking race in Tacen. She was more than two seconds faster than Eva Terčelj who finished second. Nina Mozetič was third.
Things were tense until the last stroke also in men’s canoe race. Benjamin Savšek set a great time already in the first run and was undefeated until Anže Berčič beat him for 73 hundredths of a second in the second run, but Savšek still had to finish his second run at the time, so it was obvious that the best second run will count at the end. The winner of the first two selection races improved his time and won with advantage of 58 hundredths of a second. Savšek continues his winning streak at selection races, so now he must only win one more time to directly qualify for London: “I’m satisfied with selection races, because I paddle really well. Tomorrow there is another important day and I have to admit it’s hard to maintain this level of form for so long,” said Savšek, who heard during his second run that Berčič took the lead: “At the middle of the course I heard that Berčič took the lead, so I paddled faster in the lower part of the course, luckily I managed to improve my time.” Matija Marinić (CRO) was third, Luka Božič 4th, Blaž Cof 5th and Jure Lenarčič 7th.
Peter Kauzer was the fastest in men’s kayak heats, Jure Meglič was 0.09 seconds behind him and Daniele Molmenti (ITA) was third. Since Kauzer is pre-qualified for the Olympics, the selection races only decide who will join him in team that will compete at European Championships and World Cup races. After the injury Jure Meglič slowly returns to his old form: “Firstly I had to accept that things aren’t the same as in previous years. The head is still the same, but my body misses few months of training, especially the one in Australia, where you paddle a lot. I really lack training, because I feel tired already in the upper part of the course, so I need to fight until the end. I reconciled with the fact that I need to start with my current capabilities, so things are improving now and I also enjoy more in my runs. I hope I’ll paddle well tomorrow, so I’ll get into the team. After that it should be easier, because I’ll have some more training and I’ll be able to get the necessary feelings.” Janoš Petelin was 10th, Martin Albreht 13th, Simon Brus 18th and Matej Poljanec 19th.
The Sunday’s semi-final will start at 10.00 and the finals will follow at 14.30.