Wildwater Canoeing – Even broken ribs did not stop Nejc Žnidarčič to win another European Champion title
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The 2019 ECA Wildwater Canoeing European Championships in Bovec, Slovenia, concluded with individual and team sprint events. Local wildwater canoeing star Nejc Žnidarčič claimed European Champion title in men’s kayak final despite the injury. Mathilde Rosa (ITA), Tony Debray (FRA), Cecilia Panato (ITA) and Tony Debray – Louis Lapointe (FRA) also won European Champion titles in sprint.
Nejc Žnidarčič is a well-known name in wildwater canoeing community. 35-year-old Slovenian kayaker has already won several European and World Champion titles in the past decade. He had high goals for this year’s European Championships on his favourite river, where he learned to paddle. But injury almost prevented him to start at the Championships. Because of broken ribs he decided not to start at classic events earlier this week, but beign the favourite in sprint, he decided to give it a try. He competed with the help of painkillers, but in Saturday’s final he produced such good run, that is looked he is in top shape.
“It was a chaotic week. I trained the whole year for this championships and a day before the race I injured myself. I was able to paddle with a help of painkillers, because the pain was not so bad as in the first two days. I had a superb run today, it would be difficult to repeat it. Everything was perfect. The best things is when you win at home, and I managed to do it on Soča River for the second time,” said newly crowned European Champion in men’s K1 Nejc Žnidarčič. He was also sprint European Champion in 2013 when Soča previously hosted the ECA European Championships.
Anže Urankar, another Slovenian favourite, picked up silver medal, being almost two seconds behind his teammate. French kayaker Hugues Moret was third to prevent a total Slovenian celebration. Namely, another two Slovenian finalists in this event, Tim Novak and Simon Oven, finished the race in fourth and fifth place.
Italian team won two European Champion titles in individual sprint events. Kayaker Mathilde Rosa, who was second in classic race (only 0.02 seconds behind the winner) turned the clock in her favour this time to win the race 0.04 seconds ahead of Swiss paddler Melanie Mathys, who beat her in the classic race. Martina Satkova from Czech Republic was third in women’s kayak final.
The second win of the day came in women’s canoe final where Cecilia Panato won her second European Champion title of the Championships. After classic race she produced the best time in sprint as well. Marie Nemcova from Czech Republic picked up silver medal and Elsa Gaubert from France was third.
It was an excellent day in the Soča Valley for French canoeists Tony Debray and Louis Lapointe. First they occupied first and second place in men’s canoe final and later won the European Champion title in men’s C2 event. Vladimir Slanina from Czech Republic finished third in C1, while Stephane Santamaria – Quentin Dazeur (FRA) and Daniel Suchanek – Ondrej Rolenc (CZE) joined Debray and Lapointe on the winner’s podium in men’s C2 event.
After the individual events competitors started in sprint team events. Czech Republic with Martina Satkova, Anežka Paloudova and Barbora Dimovovoa won the European Champion title ahead of Italian and French team in women’s kayak race. French representatives Tony Debray, Louis Lapointe and Stephane Santamaria were the fastest team in men’s C1 race. Czech Republic was second and Croatia third in this event. In the final team event of the championships – men’s kayak race – Italian team with Francesco Ciotoli, Andrea Bernardi and Leonardo Pontarollo celebrated the European Champion title ahead of Czech Republic and France.
Video is available on www.youtube.com/CanoeEurope
European Canoe Association
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