New Zealand scored two top-10 placings on the opening day of the ICF canoe slalom under-23 and junior world championships in Italy overnight, including an impressive ninth from the under-23 men’s K1 team.
Jack Dangen, Callum Gilbert and Finn Butcher combined for a 100.04sec run in the rapids of Ivrea, leaving them 11.83secs off the pace set by winners France, in what was comfortably the most competitive event of the day.
The notable feature was the teams the Kiwi trio beat; the might of the Czech Republic were 10th, while Australia, Great Britain and Slovakia all missed gates in the tough 27-team field.
The other top-10 New Zealand performance saw River Mutton, Casey Hales and Lotte Rayner finish eighth of 13 teams in the K1 under-18 teams event with a 134.22sec run, which included two 2sec touches.
The C1 under-23 men’s team were 12th, the C1 under-18 men’s team were 13th and the K1 under-18 men’s team were 14th in another stacked field.
French teams continued a stellar sporting week for the European nation, days after winning football’s Word Cup, picking up three gold medals in total.
There were a total of eight team gold medals up for grabs in the steamy conditions in Italy, with the Czech Republic picking up two, and single gold medals for Germany, Slovakia and Spain.
New Zealand under-23 C1 paddlers James Thwaite and Patrick Washer are the first individuals in action tonight, followed by Courtney Williams in the women’s under-23 K1, while Dangen, Butcher and Gilbert will also have their first runs in the men’s under-23 K1.