Canadian eyes will be on the water this weekend as the country’s top paddlers head to the World Cup in Szeged, Hungary on Friday. Although this is the second of three sprint World Cups, it marks the international season debut for the Canadians.
In what can be considered a turnover year for Team Canada, there are some unfamiliar faces in the lineup as most of the Rio 2016 team is not competing for one reason or another – whether that be retirement, pregnancy or just taking a break. World Cup team members were selected following the national team trials in Montreal in mid-May.
The men’s kayak team is without Adam van Koeverden and Mark de Jonge. Instead, keep an eye on Jarret Kenke who opened the trials with a win in what had been van Koeverden’s event, the K-1 1000m. Kenke broke onto the Canadian kayaking scene in 2009 when he won his first national title as a junior. Since then his accomplishments include two gold, one silver, and two bronze at the 2013 Canada Games as well as two bronze medals at the 2013 Pan American Championships.
Finishing second to Kenke was Marshall Hughes, who took home a gold medal in the non-Olympic K-1 5000m at the 2014 Pan Am Championships in Mexico. He was the winner at trials of another non-Olympic event, the K-1 500m.
In Senior Men’s C1 1000m, Craig Spence (Dartmouth, NS) led the field to beat out Mark Oldershaw (Burlington, ON), who finished second, and Roland Varga (Richmond Hill, ON) who finished third. “It was pretty amazing. I knew that I had the strength to win it but when you’re going up against people like Mark Oldershaw … you know it’s never going to be an easy race,” said Spence. “I think the big step is learning to race against top notch paddlers. Coming into the last half, that feeling at the end of the race is a learning experience every time you go out there.” Au C1 1000m masculin senior, Craig Spence (Dartmouth, N.-É.) a dominé le peloton pour battre Mark Oldershaw (Burlington, ON), qui a terminé deuxième, et Roland Varga (Richmond Hill, ON), troisième. « C’était pas mal fantastique. Je savais que j’avais la force pour gagner, mais quand vous affrontez des gens comme Mark Oldershaw … vous savez que ce ne sera pas une course facile, a dit Spence. Je pense que le grand pas est d’apprendre à affronter les meilleurs pagayeurs. Dans la dernière moitié, cette sensation à la fin de la course est une expérience d’apprentissage chaque fois que vous courez. »
In the short sprint K-1 200m – which has been de Jonge’s specialty – keep your eyes peeled for Alex Scott, who placed first, and two-time Olympian Ryan Cochrane, who placed second, at the trials.
London 2012 bronze medallist Mark Oldershaw is back in his canoe, but was beaten in the C-1 1000m at trials by Craig Spence. In 2013, Spence raced for Canada at the junior world championships and Pan Am Championships and also represented Nova Scotia at the Canada Games.
As for the women, Michelle Russell, a former U23 world champion and two-time silver medallist at the 2015 Pan Am Games, edged out Rio Olympian Andréanne Langlois for first place in the K-1 200m. Russell followed that up with a win in the K-1 500m.
With women’s canoeing being added to the Olympic program for the first time at Tokyo 2020, the world’s best female canoeist – Laurence Vincent Lapointe – came out strong at trials, taking first place in the C-1 200m and second in the C-1 500m. Internationally, she has taken home a multitude of world championship and World Cup gold medals.
One of her biggest challengers is teammate Katie Vincent, who beat her in the C-1 500m at trials. Vincent made her international breakthrough at last year’s World Cup in Duisberg, Germany when she set a world record in the C-1 200m with a time of 46.2 seconds.
After this weekend, the Canoe/Kayak Canada contingent will head to Belgrade, Serbia for the ICF Sprint World Cup 3 on June 2.
Check out the complete list of paddlers who will be representing Canada at the World Cups:
Rowan Hardy Kavanagh