Articles - European Slalom Kayak Championships

GB Squad in action
GB Squad in action
Canoe and Kayak team - Posted on 11 Mar 2009

Pole Position

The 2006 European Slalom Championships were held in the sleepy alpine town of L’Argentiere, La Besse, in France from the 30th of June until the of 2nd July 2006. The sun blessed L’Argentiere with its prescience for the event and the small town put on an amazing show of hospitality, surpassing any pre conceived expectations for the championships.

A scene of warmth and good feeling among the athletes was in the air and demonstrated through the entire weekend, showing the true spirit of sportsmanship. Countries from all over Europe, lined the start list, with athletes from very professional backgrounds, the likes of Great Britain’s Campbell Walsh and Slovakia’s Kaliska. On the other end of the scale Turkey were entering two athletes that had previously only ever paddled for just two days in a slalom boat, prior to the competition! Young supporters from the Czech Republic, ran along the banks of the river shaking bottles filled with stones, cheering on their hero’s and family members as they did battle on the water.
    Friday saw the first heats of the women’s and the men’s C1 event, along with the C1 team event and the women’s team event. The women’s heats were tight with Elena Kaliska of Slovakia way out in the front of the field finishing in 1st qualifying place with a combined time of, 2246.16 seconds, leaving a big gap behind her. Qualifying in second place was Hilgertova Steanka of Czech Republic and Jana Dukatova of Slovakia in third position. In the men’s C1 qualifications 1st qualifying place was taken by the amazing and dominating paddler from Slovakia, Michal Martikan, in 2nd qualifying place was Tony Estangnet from France and 3rd position went to Jezek Stainslav of the Czech Republic.
    Saturday saw the heat runs of the men’s K1 and the C2, along with the C2 and K1 men’s team races. In the men’s K1 class Britain’s Olympic Silver Medalist Campbell Walsh sadly capsized leaving a breakout and didn’t make it through the heats, Britain’s Richard Hounslow finished in 17th position with a time of (108.83), along with Great Britain’s Andy Hadfield placing 35th with a time of (115.48). Qualifying in 1st place in the men’s K1 was Peter Kaulzer from Slovakia with a combined time of (216.52), 2nd qualifier was Alexandre Grimm of Germany with a time of (219.25 and 3rd qualifying place going to Darlusz Popiela of Poland. In the C2 class (canoe doubles), Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott of Great Britain finished with a respectable 10th place. Sadly their final run didn't match their morning's performance of seventh placing. 1st qualifiers in the C2 crews were the Slovakian brothers Hochschorner, with a combined time of (236.51), 2nd qualifying boat was Germany’s Simon brothers with a time of (243.14) and 3rd qualifying boat was from France.     Saturday night saw a lively losers party in the town of L’Argantiere, in true French style, the football world cup played on a large screen and fire works were set off to celebrate and give recognition to the athletes efforts of the previous two days racing.
    Sunday morning and the heat was on, today would see the semi finals and final runs of the competitors, across the board. In the women’s K1 semis, Jennifier Bongardt from Germany took 1st spot with a time of (119. 16) followed closely by Mathilde Pichery of France with a time of (119.35) and Marie Rihoskova of the Czech Republic following in third place.
    The men’s KI semis were tight as well, Fabian Doerfher of Germany convincingly taking 1st spot with over a second in front of the 2nd and 3rd placed boats; Italy’s Diego Paolini took 2nd place and Michal Kurt of Switzerland taking third.
    In the C2 semi finals the Hochschorner brothers of Slovakia took 1st qualifying place with Frogit and Martin of France in 2nd position and Germany’s Simon brothers in 3rd place. 
    In the C1 semi finals there were tight times again for 1st and 2nd qualifying place. Stefan Pfannmoeller of Germany came, qualifying in first place with a time of (111.53) and in 2nd spot close behind was Krzysztof Bieryt of Poland, with (111.64) and 3rd semi final place went to Tony Estanguet of France.
    After a long lunch break the qualifying paddlers were ready to do battle and give it their best, to decide who would become European Champion. Starting off with the men’s C2 teams an amazing display was put on by the French boat of Forgit and Braud a full two seconds ahead of the rest of the medal places, the two youngsters received huge applause for their winning result following in second place were the famous Hochschorner twins from Slovakia and the Simon brothers of Germany taking a well earned 3rd place.
    In the women’s kayak final Elena Kaliska, of Slovakia put on a super performance finishing in first place, with Jennifier Bongradt of Germany taking silver and Mathilde Pichery of France taking a bronze medal for the home country, coming close behind and just missing a medal was Great Britain’s Laura Blackman finishing overall in 4th place.
    The men’s K1 final was amazing to watch, tight times by the fist two medal places, taking the gold medal was Fabian Doerfler of Germany, with fellow countryman Eric Pfannmer just behind and Italy’s Diego Paolini taking the bronze.
    The C1 final was, again, spectacular with France taking the gold with Tony Estangnet convincingly seconds ahead of the rest of the competitors. Silver was taken by Slovakia’s world-famous racing machine Michal Martikan and Czech Republic taking the bronze by Thomas Indruch.
    Following the spectacular paddling and efforts of the participating athletes, a prize giving was held, along with a closing ceremony for the Championships.
    Big potential still remains for the GB paddlers to contend in the medal zone and the team are looking forward to a strong preparation phase, on their way to the World Championships, to be held in Prague in the Czech Republic in August.

For more information on slalom racing and details of how to get involved visit and

See what Cambell Walsh Slalom hero has to say when we catch him between training sessions


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