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Europe’s leading slalom canoeists competed at the weekend at the Kolna Sports Centre for the Krakow Mayor’s Cup. Among the women in the C-1 and K-1 competitions, Klaudia Zwolińska triumphed, while third place in the men’s K-1 was won by Dariusz Popiela.

The competition on the course, which will be the arena of the European Games Krakow – Malopolska 2023 in June, attracted stars, among them olympic champion Benjamin Savseek and olympic vice-champion Peter Kauzer, for whom the competition in Poland was a qualification for the national team. In addition to the Slovenians, some 250 athletes from 15 countries took part, including dozens from Poland. The competition lasted two days – on Saturday there were semi-finals and finals in each of the four events, and a repeat on Sunday. The sum of the results from the weekend determined the final winner.

Among the polish team, Zwolińska did best. The Start Nowy Sącz athlete was second on Saturday in K-1 (kayak) and first in C-1 (canoe). On Sunday, in turn, she won in K-1 and took fifth place in the C-1 final. This was enough for an overall triumph in both competitions. Of the remaining Poles, on Saturday Natalia Pacieprnik (Krakow Canoe Club) took fifth place in the K-1 final, and her achievement was copied in C-1 by her clubmate Aleksandra Stach. On Sunday, Katarzyna Liber from Start Nowy Sącz (ninth place) and Stach (tenth) also competed in the finals.

Among the men, Sweden’s Isak Ohrstrom (K-1) and Slovenia’s Luka Bozić (C-1) were the best in the competition. Olympic champion Savsek won in the canoeing on Saturday but did not compete again on Sunday. As a result, he was third in this competition. Of the Poles, Popiela did best. The Beijing Olympian and four-time World Championships medallist was third in the K-1 overall. He finished fifth on Saturday and third on Sunday. On the second day of competition, Krzysztof Majerczak (Pieniny Szczawnica) was fourth in the K-1 final. Saturday was successful for Polish canoeists. Grzegorz Hedwig (Start Nowy Sącz) lost only to the Olympic champion, and Kacper Sztuba (AZS AWF Kraków) was fourth. On Sunday, however, none of them qualified for the final.

For polish athletes, this was the last test before the first qualification for the national team in canoe slalom, which will take place at the weekend during the international competition in Bratislava (6-7 May). The next battle for a place in the Polish national team in slalom and kayak cross will take place a week later on the Kolna course during the Krakow Slaloms – the 2nd Stefan Kapłaniak Memorial.

Competition in slalom canoeing during the European Games Krakow – Malopolska 2023 will take place in three individual and two team competitions. A total of 280 male and female athletes will compete for 10 sets of medals. IE 2023 is also an opportunity to get closer to gaining a pass to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. The competition will be held at the European Championships.

The author of the photos is Robert Wańczyk