Slovenian and Italian canoe slalom paddlers were highly motivated in Saturday’s heats of the 2023 ECA Open Canoe Slalom European Cup race in Ljubljana – Tacen, Slovenia, as this is part of the selection process for national teams of both nations. The fastest paddlers of the day were Eva Alina Hočevar in women’s canoe, Giovanni De Gennaro in men’s kayak, Stefanie Horn in women’s kayak and Benjamin Savšek in men’s canoe.
Olympic Champion Benjamin Savšek (SLO) showed why he is one of the best canoeists of all times and easily won in Saturday’s heats of the ECA Cup on his home course in Ljubljana – Tacen. With a penalty free run he was two seconds faster than his teammate from Slovenian national team Luka Božič. Savšek and Božič are currently ranked first and second at the ICF World Ranking list. The third place was won by Italian Paolo Ceccon, who also had a penalty free run and was 4.16 seconds behind Savšek.
In women’s canoe two Slovenian paddlers occupied first and second position and made the first step towards qualifying to the national team and having the right to participate at the biggest international competitions of the season, including the European Games and World Championships. It was Eva Alina Hočevar who celebrated a win ahead of Alja Kozorog, who was 3.81 seconds behind. Italian Elena Borghi was third in the heats.
Italian Giovanni De Gennaro again paddled really well on the Sava River. He was the winner of the ECA Cup in 2021 and 2022 and is looking strong to prolong the winning streak at this course at the European Cups. He had a touch, but was 0.38 seconds faster than Slovenian Peter Kauzer, who also picked up two penalty seconds. Young Italian paddler Xabier Ferrazi, son of a 1992 Olympic Champion Pierpaolo Ferrazi and former Spanish canoe slalom paddler Maria Eizmendi Perez, finished third in the heats.
Stefanie Horn, German-born Italian paddler, who is the reigning European Champion, was the best in women’s kayak heats. Horn who also won a silver medal at European Championships in 2017 at this course in Ljubljana – Tacen was 1.16 seconds faster than Eva Terčelj. Both Horn and Terčelj, the 2019 World Champion, had a touch in the last part of the course which earned them two seconds penalty. Ajda Novak was faultless on the course, but slower than the top two athletes in this event, so she finished third.
On Sunday, the semi-final of the 2023 ECA Open Canoe Slalom European Cup in Slovenia will start at 10.30 and final at 14.30.