Germany, Slovakia, Britain and the Czech Republic secured gold medals in the team events that got the Canoe Slalom World Championships underway at Pau in south-west France.
Slovakia’s C1 team of Matej Benus, Alexander Slafkovsky and Michal Martikan retained their International Canoe Federation (ICF) world title from 2015 – the Championships having taken a break during Rio Olympic year - with a convincing win over Great Britain and France.
The Slovaks were three seconds faster than the silver medallists.
“I think it is very hard to find three canoeists like we are,” Slafkovsky said.
“We are so close to each other, everyone knows what to do on the water.
“We never train together.
“The team run is very hard to train, we just talk about how we will take the distances, and every one of us knows what to do on the water, so it’s not necessary to train.”
The German women’s K1 team earned victory with a team comprising former world champion Jasmin Schornberg, this year’s World Cup winner Ricarda Funk and Lisa Fritsche.
The Germans finished in 103.60sec, beating Austria on 103.80, with Australia more than four seconds back in the bronze medal position.
For Schornberg victory came 10 years after she won her first world gold medal in the women’s K1.
“After ten years, another gold medal is fantastic,” she said.
The Czech Republic’s outstanding performer this season in the men’s K1, Vit Prindis, teamed up with 2016 Olympian Jiri Prskavec and Ondrej Tunka to secure gold with a run of 93.06, leaving them more than a second ahead of France, with Slovenia in the bronze medal position.
“I am super happy that in one year we have won the European and World Championship titles,” said Prindis.
“It’s a great feeling, I couldn’t imagine a better start.”
Britain’s opening day gold came courtesy of Mallory Franklin, Kimberley Woods and Eilidh Gibson in the women’s C1, where they finished in 117.63, ahead of Australia in 119.28, with the Czech Republic third.
“We’ve been wanting this Championship title for a while, so to come here and start of the Championships with a really good win gives a lot of confidence to all three of us going into the individual races,” Woods said.
The afternoon’s Wildwater World Championships racing gave the hosts plenty to cheer as France won four of the five events on offer, taking gold in the men’s C1, the men’s and women’s K1, and the men’s C2 events.
The only team to defeat France were the Czech Republic in the women’s C1.
After Paul Graton, Gaetan Guyonnet and Clement Faure had retained their K1 men’s team title, Guyonnet commented:
“This is a good feeling, there’s a lot of people on the course, a lot of noise.”
The French women’s team of Claire Bren, Manon Hostens and Phenicia Dupras successfully defended their K1 women’s team title, and Ancelin Gourjault, Louis Lapointe and Quentin Dazeur won the men’s C1.
“It’s a great victory, because it’s in France, it’s in Pau, and it’s very important,” Gourjault said.
“There are a lot of people here, a lot of noise, so there was a lot of pressure.”
France also earned victory in the final event of the day, the men's C2 team event.