Penalties Knock Eichfeld, Parsons Out of Semis

July 28, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

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What: Day 1 of Slalom Racing at the London 2012 Olympic Games
When: Sunday, July 29
Where: Lee Valley White Water Centre in Waltham Cross, just north of London
Who: qualifying heats forboth Casey Eichfeld (Drums, Pa.) in Men’s Canoe Single (C1) and Scott Parsons (Bethesda, Md.) in Men’s Kayak (K1)

How can I watch? Taped highlights will be shown Sunday night on NBC’s Olympic Late Night Show starting at 1:05 am ET Monday morning. Click HERE for local listings.

CASEY EICHFELD, Men’s C1

Place: 14th out of 17 boats
Advance: No, Top 12 C1 boats advance to Tuesday’s Semifinal
Best Time: 97.04 seconds (first run)
Penalty Seconds (included in Best Time): 2 seconds due to one touch on Gate 13
Behind Leader: +6.48 seconds behind Michal Martikan of Slovakia

SCOTT PARSONS, Men’s K1

Place: 16th out of 22 boats
Advance: No, Top 15 K1 boats advance to Wednesday’s Semifinal
Best Time: 94.16 seconds
Penalty Seconds (included in Total Time): 2 seconds due to 1 gate touch
Behind Leader: +10.67 seconds behind Hannes Aigner of Germany

One penalty was enough to prevent both three-time Olympian Scott Parsons (Bethesda, Md.) and two-time Olympian Casey Eichfeld (Drums, Pa.) from reaching the Semifinals Sunday on a chilly, windy day in Waltham Cross.

(see below for QUOTES)

Both finished the first heat ranked within the necessary range to advance. Both were unable to improve upon their times in the second run. Both incurred close penalties that added enough time to knock them out of contention.

Eichfeld, 22, finished 14th with a first run time of 97.04 on Day 1 of slalom racing at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The time includes one very close two-second touch penalty on Gate 13. His first run time was 10th best in the heat. Without the penalty, his time would have been good for 5th in the heat and 10th overall. Eichfeld's time was 0.97 seconds behind 12th place and a spot in the Semifinal.

Eichfeld finished his second run in 102.02, including four seconds worth of penalties. He had some trouble with the first upstream gate and four other paddlers passed him up with improved second run times. The fastest of the two runs for each athlete counts and the top 12 Men’s C1 boats advanced to Tuesday’s Semifinal. 

Parsons, 33, placed 16th with a first run time of 94.16 on Day 1 of slalom racing at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The time was good for 13th best in the heat, but he was unable to improve upon it in the second run and three paddlers passed him up. The top 15 Men’s K1 boats advanced to Wednesday’s Semifinal.

Parsons finished his second run in 141.72, including 52 seconds worth of penalty time (50 seconds for missing one gate and 2 seconds for touching another). Without the penalty for narrowly missing Gate 8, he would have finished 15th overall. Parsons' time was 1.61 seconds behind 15th place and a spot in the Semifinal.

Women’s K1 Caroline Queen (Darnestown, Md.) and the Men’s Double Canoe tandem of Eric Hurd (Woodstock, Ga.) and Jeff Larimer (Marietta, Ga.) begin racing Monday afternoon. Click HERE for a full Day 2 preview.


QUOTES:

Parsons on his first run:

“The first run had a lot of good bits. I had two kind of slow sections that made the run as a whole not very competitive, which is too bad. I was happy with about 90 percent of the first run, it was just that 10 percent that really sort of pushed the time up.”

Parsons on his second run:

“For the most part, a lot of the run was really good and the atmosphere here is incredible, so I had a great time actually.”

Parsons on missing Gate 8:

“It was a downstream on the left part of the current that I was a little late for and I had to do a little maneuvering to make sure I was in.”

Parsons on his Olympic experience:

“It’s been so much fun, just a really good relaxed atmosphere. The village has been really cool, the venue is incredible, the crowd has been fantastic today. The whole experience so far has been really, really good, and I’m actually looking forward to the next week or so of hopefully watching some other events and having some more good times.”

Eichfeld on his first run:

“For the most part, it went right. The speed just wasn’t really there, so I kept pulling and trying to get there as fast as I can to the finish. It wasn’t my best work. ... The second run, I had a really good start, the first three gates. But I came into the first [upstream] left [gate] and dropped a lot of edge and so I started to pick it up a little bit. The lines just weren’t there.”

Eichfeld on his performance overall:

“I don’t think that it was my best paddling, but I went out there with a plan in mind and raced my hardest. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted ... but I don’t have any regrets. I went out there and paddled as hard as I could.”

USA Canoe/Kayak National Teams Director William Irving on Eichfeld’s first run:

“He definitely was going through the middle of the gates. He was very clean, very fast and just got into one gate and that was enough to barely keep him out of the semis for tomorrow. He tried to do everything he could to be as close to the gate as possible, to get as fast to the gate as possible. But the call was that he got into the gate.”

Irving on Eichfeld’s growth:

“This is really Casey’s first Olympic Games as an individual. Before, he had another athlete in the boat with him. So this is almost like his first experience. He’s certainly getting better and better as time progresses. We’re seeing dramatic increases in his overall results. The kid is fast. On his first run, there was at least four to six seconds of time that he could have made up by cutting the lines tighter and those types of the things. So there’s a whole lot of room for improvement, which is really what you want to see. You don’t want to see an athlete having a perfect run and them being back in tenth. So for Casey’s there’s a lot of room for improvement, even though he’s already at a really high level now.”

Irving on Parson’s performance:

“Scott had a decent first run, needed to clean it up and just get fast. But I definitely thought that second run would be good enough in order to make it in. He still had some room for improvement on that run, it’s just a shame that he did not make the gate. It would have been fast enough to make it into the semis. It wasn’t a great run, but it would have been enough to make it in.”

...

Three-time Olympian Scott Parsons (Bethesda, Md.) and two-time Olympian Casey Eichfeld (Drums, Pa.) kick things off Sunday afternoon for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Canoe/Kayak Team.

Eichfeld, a 2008 Olympian in Men’s Double Canoe (C2) takes to the water for the first of two Men’s C1 qualifying heats at 1:30 pm GMT. The fastest of the two runs for each athlete will count and the top 12 Men’s C1 boats advance to Tuesday’s Semifinal. Sixteen boats are competing.

“Looking towards tomorrow, I’m excited and I’m ready,” Eichfeld said. “I’ve been waiting for this for four years and after a long, but well worthwhile team selection process, I have managed to return back to the Olympic Games. I can’t wait to be racing again.”

Eichfeld, 22, finished 11th in C2 at the 2008 Games and booked his ticket to London with a 6th place finish at the 2012 World Cup No. 1 in Cardiff, Wales. He most recently finished 17th at the Under-23 World Championships in Wausau, Wis., July 11-15. This time, he’ll be alone at the startgate, rather than sharing a boat with a C2 partner.

“The only difference is going to that I don’t have somebody over there that’s depending on me,” Eichfeld said. “I’m in this one by myself. I don’t know which one I really prefer, but I’m just glad to be back and I’m ready to race as a C1.”

Eichfeld must contend with World No. 1 and Beijing 2008 Silver medalist David Florence of Great Britain. World No. 2 Tony Estanguet of France will be looking to return to the podium after winning Olympic Gold in 2000 and 2004. Slovakia’s Michal Martikan won Olympic Gold in 1996 and 2008. 

Parsons, 33 hopes that the third time’s the charm for an Olympic medal. The fastest of the two runs for each athlete will count and Parsons must finish among the top 15 kayakers after heats to reach Wednesday’s Semifinal. The field is comprised of 21 boats. The feeling of representing his country is one that never gets old. 

"It's a hefty responsibility, but it's a welcome one,” Parsons said. “We are kind of a sport of individuals. The Olympics is a cool event because it's a departure from that and it's pretty fun to be a part of something bigger than yourself. It's an honor and privilege to be a part of Team USA."

Parsons placed 6th in 2004 and 20th in 2008. He clinched his third Olympic berth with an 11th place finish at the 2012 World Cup No. 1. He finished 15th at the 2011 World Championships and as high as 8th on the 2011 World Cup circuit.

“With it being qualification day, Scott’s been in this position many times before,” said William Irving, U.S. Olympic Team Leader. “He’s looking to lay down a good first run to give himself a little bit of room for the second run. If he lays down a good first run, then I expect him to just let it all out in the second run and really, really just try to hammer it down as if it’s his Final. He’s very relaxed right now, he’s paddling really well on the course. So all indication is he’s definitely ready for whatever course they lay out to us today.”

Parsons will face stiff competition from World No. 1 Peter Kauzer of Slovakia, who won the World Championships in 2009 and 2011. Daniele Molmenti of Italy won the 2010 World Championships and the previous two European Championships. Beijing 2008 Bronze medalist Benjamin Boukpeti of Togo is the lone returning Olympic medalist in the field.

Women’s K1 Caroline Queen (Darnestown, Md.) and the Men’s Double Canoe tandem of Eric Hurd (Woodstock, Ga.) and Jeff Larimer (Marietta, Ga.) begin racing Monday afternoon. 

USA Canoe/Kayak is a non-profit membership organization based in Oklahoma City, OK, promoting canoe and kayak racing in the United States. A member of the United States Olympic Committee, USA Canoe/Kayak is the national governing body for the Olympic sports of Flatwater Sprint and Whitewater Slalom and the official U.S. federation of the International Canoe Federation. Other paddling sports sanctioned by USACanoe/Kayak include Marathon, Freestyle, Wildwater, Stand Up Paddleboard, Canoe Polo, Canoe Sailing, Outrigger, and Dragon Boat. For more information about USA Canoe/Kayak, please visit us on the web at www.usack.orgon Twitter at @usacanoekayak and Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/USACanoeKayak.

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