Canoe Slalom performance – Jake Cochrane and Alistair McCreery

Ali at Augsburg, photo by Stefan Brending

Its been a very busy three months of racing for Ali and myself. The season started with the ECA European Championships in Liptovksy, Slovakia. We both showed some great early season form with Ali finishing 17th in the newest Olympic category of extreme slalom and myself finishing 19th in C1.

Jake at Augsburg, photo by Stefan Dietz

After the European Championships we had three consecutive weekends of ICF World Cups. This period of racing showed some excellent racing and continued form from the Europeans. Ali made his first World Cup semi-final, a great benchmark in slalom racing, at World Cup 1 in Prague and finished 39th. He followed this up with another semi-final perfomance at World Cup 3 in Ljubliana and finished one better at 38th. To make two out of three semi-finals in these first three World Cups of the season was tesimony to the hard work put in over the off season. I made my first World Cup final in Prague also and finished in 10th position after a mistake in the final, But again another fantastic benchmark to make a year out from Olympic Qualifications next year. A missed semi-final in World Cup 2 required some refocus for World Cup 3. I made the semi-finals here but a not so great performance in the semifinals lead to a finished of 26th. Benchmarks and PBs made left us full of confidence going into the ICF World Championships.                                             

After the world cups we headed on to Augsburg, Germany to train at the venue of this years ICF World Championships for a month before the race. The build up and anticipation for the world championships to be held in augsburg was huge, among the competitors, spectators and local people as it was the 50th anniversary since the Olympic Games were held here as part of the Munich 1972 Olympic Games. Each day of racing brought 7000 spectators into the event and created an atmosphere unlike anything we had experienced. It was a challenge in itself to take it all in while focusing on the race.

The event started with the team races. Ali, along with fellow K1M team mates Noel Hendrick and Sam Curtis, showed good pace but unfortunately had 6 two second penalties for their touches leaving them in 18th place. In C1M, myself, Liam Jegou and Robert Hendrick put together a great run with only a small mistake in the middle section and finished 5th place. K1M kicked off the individual racing and showed how tight the racing is on the Eiskanal. A 50 on Alis first run marred an otherwise solid performance and meant he had to try and get a top 10 in second runs to qualify through to semi-finals. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be and Ali got given a 50 second penalty in his second run and didn’t qualify through to the weekends semi-finals. He would get another chance to race in this world championships in Extreme Slalom later in the week. Ali put down a great performance in the time trial heats to make it through to the last 32 knockout stage of the competition. In a very tough heat Ali finished fourth with only the top two progressing through and finishing in a position of 28th.      

A 50 second penalty in my first run meant I had to do a second qualification run to earn my spot in the semi finals. In the same as K1, 10 go through in second runs and after a much improved second run I finished 2nd. The course designers ramped up the difficulty for semi-finals to really test the athletes. I was off to a great run and was in touch with the split on the first and second sections. Just after gate 18 a misjudged stroke caused me to spin out in the eddy costing me a lot of time and my potential place in the final, finishing 24th. A slightly disappointing outcome to a great week of racing but nonetheless a personal best at the world championships.

            Overall its been a fantasctic year of racing, one that is yet to finish. We have two more ICF World Cups this year at the end of August and start of September and also an ICF World Ranking Race in Lee Valley, the venue of next years ICF World Championships and Olympic Qualifiers.

Ali at Augsburg, extreme slalom, photo by Stefan Brending

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