Australian Whitewater Open

11/02/2015 by Steve Knowles

A world class field of more than 150 athletes will contest the Australian Open at Penrith Whitewater Stadium from 13 to 15 February.

Racing will get underway on Friday from 9am AEST with the qualification runs for each of the five slalom disciplines to be contested on the opening day - C1M, C1W, C2M, K1M and C1W.

Local favourite and dual World Champion Jessica Fox will headline a star studded field which boasts multiple World Cup, World Championship and Olympic champions.

It is not that uncommon in slalom or other sports, where athletes get a good result somewhere they like to head back for more. Penrith fits the bill after all these years for a spot of warm weather training.

While the UAE has become a hotspot destination for many Europeans, Australia is still favoured by some of the top athletes, like Olympic Champion Daniele Molmenti of Italy and Frenchman Denis Gargaud Chanut who are here for the long haul.

For the internationals the Aus Open is a kick start to the season and chance to get a feel good measure of where they are at in a training phase ahead of their own selection which tend to follow in April.

With four of the top 10 ranked athletes in K1M, C1M and K1W here for the race and a host of other quality paddlers the finals promise to be tight.

K1 Men
The German’s will be fresh off the plane and in need of some sunscreen! However, they do look to be a formidable force with Sebastian Schubert leading the way in K1M backed up by the big guns in Hannes Aigner and Alexander Grimm.

There is more muscle in the men's kayak in the shape of Olympic champion, Daniele Molmenti and Andrea Romeo of Italy.

Closer to home Mike Dawson will be looking to defend his title against the Aussie pack led by Lucien Delfour (pictured) and Jaxon Merritt. Delfour, fifth at last year's worlds, is beginning to break through on the world circuit and will be hard to beat on the course he knows so well.

Finally, expect good form as usual from the French with worlds bronze medalist Matthieu Biazizzo likely to fire despite a lack of training following injury, and strong man Pierre Bourliaud who won silver last year.

K1 Women
As usual, we can expect the German women to be strong with Ricarda Funk, Melanie Pfeiffer and Jasmin Schornberg in the line-up.

2013 Aus Open champion Katerina Kudejova of the Czech Republic and 2014 Worlds finalist Luuka Jones of New Zealand will be other strong contenders.

Jessica Fox and Rosalyn Lawrence will lead the Australian charge, with Fox the favourite and looking to make it back to back titles.

Ana Satila of Brazil steps up into the senior ranks and along with Yuriko Takeshita of Japan helps make this a truly global affair with four continents and 11 countries in the women's kayak.

C1 Women
In the women's canoe the strong Australian contingent led by Fox and Lawrence will be joined by athletes from Slovakia, Cook Islands, Canada and Brazil with Satila doubling in the canoe event and the likeliest threat to challenge the Australians. Watch out, too, for the fast rising juniors of Kate Eckhardt and Noemie Fox.

C1 Men
In men's C1, Matej Benus and Denis Gargaud Chanut are past winners here at the AUS Open and both like training here on the Penrith course.

Watch out for Florian Breuer of Germany, last year's junior world champion in Penrith, evergreen Stan Jezek of the Czech Republic and Franz Anton of Germany. Anton won bronze at the World Championships at Deep Creek last year.

Ian Borrows, Rob Jeffery, Ethan Hodson and Christian Fabris will be chasing spots on the Australian team and looking to get to the final and a shot at the podium. Watch out for dark horse, London Olympian, Kynan Maley who is having another crack.

C2 Men
It will be the Bleu Blanc Rouge of France with three world class crews, Gauthier Klauss/Matthieu Peche, Pierre Labarelle/ Nicolas Peschier and Pierre Pico/Hugo Biso on the start.

They will be challenged by the German pair David Schroeder and Frank Henze, while the Brazilians and Italians will be in hot pursuit.

There will be no real challenge from the Aussies in this event with our best canoe paddlers focusing on the C1 class.