BALATONFÜRED, Hungary - Over the weekend the Sprint and Technical race finals took place at the 2021 ICF SUP World Championships in Hungary and the action did not disappoint. Vets and underdogs alike showed up and made history.
Noic Garioud picked up New Caledonia’s second gold medal of the weekend and Russia’s Elena Prokhorova ended a 20-year world championship drought by winning the sprint titles at the International Canoe Federation’s stand up paddling titles in Hungary on Saturday. 19-year-old Garioud pipped reigning world champion Connor Baxter in a thrilling men’s finish to the 200 meter race, while Prokhorova worked her way through the field after a slow start to win the women’s race. Both paddlers picked up minor medals in Friday’s long distance races, with Garioud taking silver behind countryman Titouan Puyo, and Prokhorova winning bronze behind American Fiona Wylde.
Garioud said the world title came as a surprise to him. “I wasn’t expecting the gold medal, you always expect something but I wasn’t sure of the result,” Garioud said. “I did train for the sprint, I was feeling confident, I knew I was good, but Connor is super fast and you never know what can happen. I just pushed it right to the end and I got him right on the line, so I’m pretty happy with that. I wasn’t expecting the second place yesterday because I didn’t train for the distance race, so it was kind of a surprise, so I’m pretty happy with both results.”
Baxter finished one second behind for the silver, with Italy’s Claudio Nika following up his silver medal performance from the 2019 ICF world championships with the bronze.
Elena Prokhorova making Russia proud. | Photo courtesy: International Canoe Federation
33-year-old Prokhorova wondered after Friday’s bronze medal if she was destined to go through her paddling career without a world title, but on Saturday she became an ICF world champion with a slashing women’s sprint win.
“In my background as a kayak paddler, I was always third or second at a European or a world championships, and never gold in 20 years,” Prokhorova said. “Yesterday I thought maybe this was the way I will finish, I thought this was my fate. I just hope that I deserve this. I still want to fight, because I am an athlete, and of course I want to fight on the distances that I have prepared. I’m really in love with this kind of sport.”
Russian teammate Nataliia Novitskaya won the silver, with American April Zilg finished with the bronze medal.
There was more celebration for Russia in the inflatable race, with Andrey Kraitor winning the men’s gold, while two-time ICF SUP world champion Olivia Piana won the gold in the women’s her only event in Hungary this weekend.
Sprint – Women
- Prokhorova Elena (RUS) 1.02:21
- Novitskaya Nataliia (RUS) 1.02:95
- Zilg April (USA) 1.04:36
Sprint – Men
- Garioud Noic (FNC) 48:01
- Baxter Connor (USA) 49:00
- Nika Claudio (ITA) 50:79
Inflatables – Women
- Piana Olivia (FRA) 51.25:10
- Fournel Emilie (CAN) 52.36:66
- Horvath Noemi (HUN) 53.08:76
Inflatables – Men
- Kraitor Andrey (RUS) 46.49:38
- Kover Marton (HUN) 46.51:46
- Taucher Christian (AUT) 46.55:51
Fiona Wylde, full focus. | Photo courtesy: International Canoe Federation
American Fiona Wylde and New Caledonian Noic Garioud both picked up their second gold medals for the weekend as the International Canoe Federation’s Stand Up Paddling world championships came to an end in Balatonfured, Hungary, on Sunday. Wylde added the women’s technical world title to the long distance crown she won on Friday. Wylde won bronze in both events at the 2019 ICF world championships in China.
Garioud won the men’s technical race, one day after also winning the men’s sprint title. He also picked up the silver medal in the men’s distance final to make him the most successful elite athlete of the championships.
Wylde made her decisive move on the first turn, breaking away to build a lead that could not be hauled in by Spain’s Esperanza Barreras or fellow American April Zilg. “It’s incredible, I can’t believe I just won two world titles in three days,” Wylde said. “I was so nervous for this race, probably the most nervous I have ever been because it is so short. I’m still shaking.
“I really really wanted to do it. After Covid we have all gone through our difficulties, trying to figure out what we’re doing. I decided I really wanted to do this and I really wanted to win another world title – and I won two! This is complete icing on the cake.”
Noic Garioud, the champ. | Photo courtesy: International Canoe Federation
19-year-old Garioud was the star of the weekend, his blistering pace proving the difference in the sprint and the technical races. In Sunday’s final he sat behind defending world champion Connor Baxter of the USA, before making his run heading to the final turn.
“When I first started the race I was hoping for a podium, but definitely not a gold medal,” Garioud said. “And yet, here I am. I just can’t believe it. I did not ever think I could win two gold medals and one silver, not in three races on the same week. I will never follow that.
“Connor left the start line pretty fast, so I just tried to stay with him. At the sixth buoy I started to push myself and got past him. I think he was pretty tired after his start.
Baxter picked up his second silver medal of the week, while Peru’s Itzel Delgado finished third.
The ICF has announced next year’s SUP world championships will be held in Gdynia, Poland.
Technical Open Women
- Wylde Fiona (Usa) 5.34:55
- Barreras Esperanza (Esp) 5.43:66
- Zilg April (Usa) 5.49:71
Technical Open Men
- Garioud Noic (Fnc) 4.46:15
- Baxter Connor (Usa) 4.57:98
- Delgado Itzel (Per) 5.02:34
About International Canoe Federation
The International Canoe Federation is responsible for the global sport of canoeing and has 167 affiliated National Associations and 13 disciplines - Sprint, Slalom, Paracanoe, Wildwater, Marathon, Canoe Polo, Freestyle, Ocean Racing, Dragon Boat, SUP, Rafting, WaveSki and Canoe Sailing. Canoeing has two Olympic disciplines, with sprint introduced at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games and slalom at the Munich 1972 Olympic Games; Canoeing also made its debut at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games with Paracanoe. Find out more about the International Canoe Federation at canoeicf.com