Two more Kiwi paddlers through to World Cup semis
Luuka Jones has again led the New Zealand charge into the semifinals of the second canoe slalom World Cup of the season, with fellow Tauranga paddler Callum Gilbert joining her after a dazzling second run.
Jones needed only one run to qualify in both her K1 and C1 heats, with her K1 effort particularly impressive.
Germany’s Ricarda Funk showed the form that made her almost unbeatable last year when she qualified quickest in 89.07 but Jones was sixth, just 2.38secs back, with a run that included a touch and 2sec penalty on the seventh gate. Great Britain’s Mallory Franklin was second in 89.63secs, with Austria’s Corinna Kuhnle third.
Jones also picked up a touch in her C1 run, finishing in 104.17secs, 9.90secs behind Austria’s Viktoria Wolffhardt, although comfortably inside the top-20 qualifiers in 17th spot.
Gilbert, meanwhile, had to overcome a terrible opening run where he missed two gates entirely and was 79th of the 80 paddlers. Mike Dawson was 32nd, with his touch on gate 15 costing him automatic qualification, and the third Kiwi Jack Dangen was 41st.
Gilbert’s second run was near-perfect, however, clocking a clear 80.05secs to qualify third. It was the 10th-fastest time of the day overall and the first time the young Kiwi has made a World Cup semifinal since his five consecutive efforts in 2016.
Dawson was an agonising 11th in his second run, just 0.60secs off the top-10 who progressed, while Dangen had a faster raw time that his first run but clipped a gate to finish 23rd.
Olympic champion Joe Clarke (Great Britain) cruised down the course in 77.99secs, putting him 1.14 seconds ahead of last week’s World Cup winner, German Sebastian Schubert, with 2017 World Cup overall champion Vit Prindis (Czech Republic) third.
The other Kiwi in action was Courtney Williams in the women’s K1, where a missed gate in her first run left her 58th but a vastly improved second run saw her clock 103.73, good enough for 21st.
Jones will be in action again tonight for her K1 semifinal, with Gilbert racing tomorrow night in the men’s K1, Jones in the women’s C1 and Dawson chasing more silverware in the extreme slalom finals, after qualifying in fourth.