The world’s best whitewater paddlers will kick off the Olympic Canoe Slalom qualifying season at the 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival at Penrith Whitewater Stadium this weekend with 526 days to go to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (15-17 February 2019).
The event will be the largest international whitewater event in the Asia Pacific since the 2000 Olympic Games celebrating the 20-year Olympic anniversary of the course following its opening in 1999. The 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival will run over the two weekends 15-17 and 22-24 February 2019 and for the first time will combine the three whitewater disciplines of canoe slalom, wildwater and freestyle.
Over 300 of the world’s greatest paddlers from over 30 countries, including all three Rio 2016 individual class Olympic champions as well as several Olympic and World Championships medallists, will compete against Australia’s best.
Jessica Fox, Australia’s dual Olympic medallist and seven-time World Champion and greatest individual slalom paddler of all time will spearhead Australia’s highly successful team when they take on the rest of the world in front of a home crowd with less than 1.5 years to go to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
All three Rio 2016 women’s K1 Olympic podium finishers will be at the start line, giving Jessica Fox the opportunity for a re-match against Olympic champion Maialen Chourraut from Spain and New Zealand’s Olympic silver medallist Luuka Jones.
The event is also an Australian national team selection event to decide the national team canoe slalom athletes to contest the 2019 Olympic qualifying season as well as the 2019 U23 and Junior National Teams.
“We’ve had a lot of internationals training here and getting ready for these races since December and it’s super exciting for us Aussies to get out there and compare ourselves to them on our home course here in Penrith. We don’t have many competitions at home and it’s amazing to have the world come to Sydney to paddle down under. There will be plenty of action with also our freestyle and wildwater paddlers on show and I hope we will get a big home crowd to come and cheer us on,” Jessica Fox said.
“It really will be a World Championship level event and it will be a great benchmark for us Aussies heading into the Olympic qualifying season. Both weekends are our selection trials for this year’s World Champs and that kick-starts the selection process for Tokyo.”
“I’s really exciting to get to take on the rest of the world so it’s all happening now. I remember getting off that plane from Rio in 2016 and thinking that we would need to wait four years for the next one but it’s come around so quickly and we are all super pumped to get out there and race and train really hard this year. It’s just over 500 days to go, it’s all very exciting and I’m looking forward to it,” Jess added about the built-up to Tokyo 2020.
The who is who in Olympic canoe slalom will be competing at the 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival including all three individual Rio 2016 Olympic champions: men’s K1 Rio 2016 gold medallist Joe Clarke (GBR), Olympic champion in the men’s C1 Denis Gargaud Chanut from France as well as Spain’s Rio 2016 Olympic champion and London 2012 bronze medallist in the women’s K1 Maialen Chourraut (ESP).
The stellar international line-up also includes all Rio 2016 Olympic medallists Jiří Prskavec (CZE), Peter Kauzer (SLO), Luuka Jones (NZL), Jessica Fox (AUS) as well as Hannes Aigner (GER), Jessica Fox (AUS) and Maialen Chourraut (ESP).
With Jessica Fox (women’s K1 and C1), Germany’s Hannes Aigner (K1) and Franz Anton (C1), also all current World Champions will be at the start line in the Olympic events.
The canoe slalom competition will start on Friday, 15 February with heats. Semi-finals and finals in the men’s C1 and women’s K1 are scheduled for Saturday, before Sunday will see the women’s C1, mixed C2 and men’s K1 semifinals and finals.
The world’s best whitewater paddlers will also be represented in the exciting Freestyle and Wildwater disciplines with the freestyle events spearheaded by three-time world cup champion and Guinness World record holder Jez Jezz (NSW).
“It is going to be one of the biggest freestyle competitions that Australia has had since the World Championships in Penrith back in 2004 and it will be a great action spectacle to watch. For us to be able to showcase what these freestyle athletes are doing is huge and we can’t wait to see the most exciting action that freestyle draws. Slalom, wildwater and freestyle all within the same festival is the best festival on whitewater that Australia has ever had. We can’t wait,” Jez Jezz said about the event.
The freestyle competition will see some of the world’s best in action, with Japan’s World Cup Champion Suematso Yoshiko spearheading the women’s competition. She will be challenged by American former Junior World Champion and US Women’s Freestyle and K1 and C1 National Champion Sage Donelly.
The freestyle competition will start on Saturday, 16 February with heats and with finals to follow on Sunday.
The two-weekend festival will also see a number of the recently selected wildwater national team paddlers enjoy a hit-out on homewaters before the international season with the Wildwater Grand Prix 1 and 2 also an ICF ranking event as well as the final selection opportunity for remaining spots on the national wildwater team.
All of last year’s national representatives Alex and Rob McIntyre (NSW), Kaylen and Lachlan Bassett (VIC) and Dita Pahl (VIC) will be aiming to showcase the best wildwater paddling has to offer after making it back on to the provisional senior national team and securing ICF ranking points in the process.
Racing at the 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival starts tomorrow, Friday, 15 February 2019 with the Australian Open, the Freestyle National Championships as well as the Wildwater GP1 part of the first weekend.
The 2019 Sydney International Whitewater Festival includes a series of events to crown the 2019 Australian Open and Oceania Canoe Slalom Champions as well as the Australian and Oceania Freestyle Champions. It also includes the Wildwater Grand Prix 1 and 2.
The Australian Open Canoe Slalom as well as the Wildwater events are also ICF World Ranking events.
- 15-17 Feb:
- Australian Open Canoe Slalom (ICF Ranking Event)
- Wildwater GP1 (ICF Ranking Event)
- Freestyle Nationals
- 22-24 Feb:
- Oceania Championships Slalom
- Oceania Championships Freestyle
- Wildwater GP2 (ICF Ranking Event)
Entry to the event is free.
Check out the event merchandise here: https://www.theregattashop.com.au/collections/sydney-international-whitewater-festival