Slalom Women's K1
semi-final and final report and photographs1.Elena Kaliska SVK 192.64
Beijing - On a day
when some of the finest female K1 slalom paddlers were cut down to size by
the merciless Shunyi white water course, Slovakia's Elena Kaliska grabbed
her second Olympic gold medal in succession with a staggering performance
that proved she was peerless on this course.
Kaliska blitzed the
churning channel with a clear run that was a full two seconds faster than
the clear run she posted in the semi-finals, making her not only the
fastest woman on the water, but also the only woman not to incur a penalty
on either run.
She shrieked with delight as she crossed the line,
earning Slovakia it's third gold medal of the Games.
Silver went to
the 26 year old Australian Jacqui Lawrence, who was the only other athlete
to post a clear run in the final, earning her a medal on her Olympic
debut. Austria's Violetta Oblinger Peters won the bronze medal.
treacherous course was merciless on many of the women, few more so that
the iconic two times gold medallist Stepanka Hilgertova of the Czech
Republic. After being slow into the testing upstream gate three, she was
thrashed in the hole above gate five, capsizing and struggling to Eskimo
roll her boat upright in the turbulent water.
She was underwater
as she passed through gate five, and the resultant fifty second penalty
changed the entire face of the final. The disconsolate Hilgertova picked
up two more fifties for missing subsequent gates as she digested the
disaster that had befallen her, before gallantly completing the rest of
the course at her normally high standard of clinical
Classy French athlete Emilie Fer paid for a lapse in
concentration as she missed gate seven, after battling with the strong
lateral above gate five. That fifty second penalty together with two
further touches shackled what seemed to be a genuine medal prospect for
That threw the final wide open, and suddenly Lawrence and
Oblinger Peters were in the medals. Lawrence's medal is particularly
notable given the cool-headed manner in which she responded to a
potentially serious problem early on in her final.
Her boat spun
out of a stopper sideways, and she tailwalked out of the hole and onto the
side of the concrete canal. She kept her wits about her, and back paddled
the kayak back into the current, successfully negotiating an unsighted
Seasoned Italian paddler Maria Cristina Giai Pron
was another of the tough courses female victims as she picked up
back-to-back fifty second penalties on the tough sequence through the
upstream gate three and four, and the gate five below a nasty wave, and
then added a further fifty to her score when she was catapulted sideways
at "The Vortex" drop above gate fifteen.
Former British paddler
Heather Corrie, racing for the USA was another casualty on this section of
the course, and ended the final in eighth position after missing gate five
Kaliska said afterwards that she had been oblivious to
the drama that had played itself out before her final run. "This was all
bout the head, the mind and mental strength. I was just concentrating on
my own race."
Oblinger Peters said that the support from her
husband Helmut Oblinger, who had raced earlier in the week for Austria in
the men's K1 competition had helped her. "You have to be ready to
improvise on a course like this," she said. "Everything he told me was
useful to me."
Earlier in the day the semi-final result was
revised following a protest by Kaliska at a two second penalty that was
upheld, edging her into the top seeding for the final ahead of the French
women Emilie Fer.
The semi-finals were dominated by the dramatic
demise of world champion Jennifer Bongardt of Germany. She was mauled by
the big hole called "the Dragon's Mouth" at gate 3 and 4, resulting in her
losing time and then incurring a fifty second penalty.
desperate bid to try and salvage a place in the final she picked up
another two second penalty, and then in the bottom part of the course, a
further fifty second penalty as she realised that her chance at an Olympic
medal had disappeared.
"The disappointment is huge," said Bongardt,
before adding "but it means that someone else is going through to the
final, which is kinda cool, so I am happy for them."
She was joined
on the list of casualties in the semi-finals by Ariane Herde of the
Netherlands, Maria Ferekidi of Greece, Kazakhstan's Yekaterina Lukicheva
and Brazils Poliana De Paula.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
2.Jacqueline Lawrance AUS
3.Violetta Oblinger Peters AUT 214.77
4.Yuriko Takeshita JPN
5.Agnieszka Stanuch POL 221.08
6.Ariane Herde NED
7.Emilie Fer FRA 251.96
8.Heather Corrie USA 270.88
9.Stepanka Hilgertova CZE 344.41
10.Maria Cristina Giai Pron ITA
1.Elena Kaliska SVK 97.13
3.Stepanka Hilgertova CZE 101.78
5.Maria Cristina Giai Pron ITA 104.52
JPN 107.86 5
7.Violetta Oblinger Peters AUT 110.6
9.Agnieszka Stanuch POL 116.46
10.Ariane Herde NED
11.Maria Ferekidi GRE 118.99 DNQ
12.Yekaterina Lukicheva KAZ
13.Jingjing Li CHN 161.79
14.Poliana De Paula BRA 168.29
15.Jennifer Bongardt GER 203.29 DNQ