Solkan will host 2013 ICF Wildwater Canoeing Sprint World Championships.

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The emerald Soča River will host another big Wildwater Canoeing competition of the season 2013 this weekend. After the European Championships in Bovec paddlers now await the start of the ICF Wildwater Canoeing Sprint World Championships in Solkan. Slovenian team expects great results on the home course, especially reigning world champion Nejc Žnidarčič who will fight for his third consecutive world title in sprint.

The ICF Wildwater Canoeing Sprint World Championships will be the second of three major canoeing events this year in Slovenia. The first one – European Wildwater Canoeing Championships in Bovec – was very successful for Slovenian team, the second peak of the season comes this weekend, while third canoeing fest will take place in August in Ljubljana, when world’s best slalomists will compete at World Cup race.

As always Slovenian competitors are among the favourites for medals and they will also have a bit of advantage on a home course. “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 have upgraded this form. 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,” said Slovenian team leader Srečko Masle, himself also World Champion years ago, before the Championships.

The main favourite in men’s kayak race will be undoubtedly Nejc Žnidarčič who won two World Champion titles in 2011 and 2012. The goal for Slovenian paddler is clear – third consecutive title. “This was the goals since we’ve found out that the World Championships will take place in Solkan. I am very motivated, especially because we will compete on a course where I learned how to paddle. It will be a special feeling to compete on a home course. I am sure 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 during the training of pull-ups, when the bar broke and he fell on his knees. He suffered kissing spine which made everything, even walking, very hard and painful. “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 fitness. 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 Europeans,” added Žnidarčič.

Žnidarčič will be the one to watch on Soča River, but many other excellent paddlers already came to Solkan to prepare for the Championships. Besides always great French, German and Czech paddlers, there are also others who will be tough opponents. Italian team came to Solkan with Slovenian born Italian paddler Jaka Jazbec who already has many medals from Wildwater Canoeing Championships, in canoe excellent Slovakian slalomist Matej Benuš, who won a medal at recently finished European Canoe Slalom Championships, will start etc. French team for sure expects 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 medal).

The Championships in front of a home crowd also lured Luka Božič and Sašo Taljat, Slovenian Olympians in Canoe Slalom, who were two-times World Champions in Wildwater Canoeing in 2010, but then focused only on slalom. “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 a flatwater, but that is all the training we did,” said Sašo Taljat and Luka Božič added: “The competition has changed since then, so we don’t know what to expect.”

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 and also special recognition for our club and federation. This is a nice promotion and the biggest sporting event that will be organized 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.”

Organizers 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’s night finals. Besides the competition programme organizers prepared also other 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/

Competition programme:

Thursday, 13. 6.

20.00 Opening ceremony

Friday, 14. 6.

10.00 Heats 1st run: C1w, C2m, K1w

13.00 Heats 2nd run: C1w, C2m, K1w

21.00 Finals: C1w, C2m, K1w

Saturday, 15. 6.

10.00 Heats 1st run: C1m, K1m

12.30 Heats 2nd run: C1m, K1m

16.00 Finals: C1m, K1m

Sunday, 16. 6.

12.00 Team race 1st run

14.00 Team race 2nd run