World´s best set for Prague World Cup

                               Reigning Olympic and world champions head the strongest canoe slalom field assembled since 2019 for this weekend’s opening 2021 ICF world cup in Prague. More than 200 athletes from 34 countries have overcome tough international travel restrictions to descend on the Czech Republic for what will be one of the last major competitions before the Tokyo Olympics.

All quotas for Tokyo have been allocated, but some teams, including USA and Sweden, will only decide their final teams after this weekend’s racing.

Among those competing this weekend will be Rio 2016 gold medalists Joe Clarke of Great Britain in the men’s K1, and Denis Gargaud Chanut of France in the men’s C1. Both failed to qualify for Tokyo, and are already setting their sights on returning to the Olympics in Paris in 2024.

Spain’s Maialen Chourraut, the women’s K1 gold medalist in Rio, heads a strong field in Prague that includes reigning world champion Eva Tercelj of Slovenia, three-time world champion and two-time Olympic medalist Jessica Fox of Australia, and world cup champion Ricarda Funk of Germany.

                               Joining Clarke in the men’s K1 field will be two-time world champion and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Jiri Prskavec of the Czech Republic, 2016 Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion Peter Kauzer of Slovenia, and 2018 world champion and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, Hannes Aigner of Germany.

The men’s C1 field is also filled with Olympic and world championship medalists, headed by Gargaud Chanut, and former world champions Franz Anton of Germany, and Benjamin Savsek of Slovenia.

The silver medalists from the previous two Olympics, Matej Benus of Slovakia and Sideris Tasiadis of Germany, will also be looking to impress in the C1 ahead of Tokyo.

Women’s C1 will make its Olympic debut in Tokyo, with multiple world champion Jessica Fox of Australia likely to start favourite. In Prague she will be tested by a field which includes 2019 world champion Andrea Herzog of Germany, and 2017 world champion Mallory Franklin of Great Britain.

The growing popularity of extreme canoe slalom has been reflected by strong nominations for this weekend’s races in Prague as the sport prepares to make its Olympic debut in Paris in 2024.

Gargaud Chanut and Clarke are just two of the high profile athletes entered for the men’s event, alongside reigning world champion Stefan Hengst of Germany, and former world champions Christian de Dionigi of Italy, and Vavrinec Hradilek of the Czech Republic.

In the women’s extreme canoe slalom, former world champions Caroline Trompeter of Germany and Ana Satila of Brazil, and world championship medalists Polina Mukhgaleeva of Russia, Martina Wegman of the Netherlands, and Amalie Hilgertova of the Czech Republic.

The world cup will take place under strict Covid-19 protocols, including frequent testing, social distancing measures and the compulsory use of face masks where appropriate.

Racing begins on Friday and will continue through to Sunday. The second ICF canoe slalom and extreme slalom world cup will be held in Markkleeberg, Germany, the following weekend.