Junior Slalom World Championships

July 10, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)


Powell after his medal-winning final run on Saturday. Credit: USA Canoe/Kayak

WHAT: 2012 ICF Junior/U23 Slalom World Championships
WHEN: July 11-15, 2012; Opening Ceremony July 10
WHERE: Wausau, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Whitewater Park, Wausau River
WHO: 300+ young athletes from 27 nations, including three 2012 Olympians

LINKS: Results. 2012Wausau.com.

Caroline Queen (Darnestown, Md.) placed 9th in the U23 Women’s K1 Final Sunday as the 2012 ICF Junior/U23 Slalom World Championships wrapped up in Wausau, Wis.  Queen incurred one two-second touch penalty en route to a time of 135.51, which was +18.40 seconds back from the first place finisher Katerina Kudejova of Czech Republic.

Caroline Queen, Women’s Kayak: “I'm happy to have made the final and gained some good experience, the mistake on the run came as a result of taking a risk to be faster. That's racing.”

Racing concluded with the team events, where the U.S. placed 6th in Junior Men’s C1 and 9th in Junior Women’s K1.


Rick Powell (Parkesburg, Pa.) improved with each run this week to win the Bronze medal in U23 Men’s K1 Saturday in Wausau, Wis. The 2008 Olympian (in doubles canoe) ranked 26th after Wednesday’s heats and leaped to 4th place in Friday’s semifinal. His penalty-free final round time of 107.01 was +4.59 seconds behind the first place finisher, Jiri Prskavec of Czech Republic.

Richard Powell, Men’s Kayak: “I had a faster run but I didn’t feel as good. I don’t know what the difference was. I think the gates were a bit higher but I still paddled well, so I think that’s what clinched it for me.”

“I came 4th in semis, so I figured I had a good chance to medal. But you never what’s going to happen and I was still very nervous.”

“My mom and dad were here, my parents were here, which is good enough for me. Definitely my parents they have been helping me since I was a little kid.”

Michal Smolen (Gastonia, N.C.), who led the field through qualifying heats, placed 5th with a penalty-free time of 107.75. Both athletes competed for the U.S. Senior National Team on the 2012 World Cup circuit and should be Team USA fixtures for years to come. They should push each other for top billing all the way until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

In U23 Women’s C1 Final, Micki Reeves (Denver, Colo.) finished 6th with a time of 174.78, including six penalty seconds.

In U23 Women’s C1 Team Event, the Team USA placed 5th. The U.S. Junior Men’s K1 Team finished 7th, while the U23 Men’s K1 Team placed 11th.

Sunday’s racing begins 9 a.m. with 2012 Olympian Caroline Queen (Darnestown, Md.) racing in the U23 Women’s K1 Final. The U.S. will also compete in the team events for Junior Women’s K1 and Junior Men’s C1.

Joe Jacobi, USA Canoe/Kayak CEO: “Rick’s medal today is not only a story of perseverance, but also a testament to his training group’s willingness to thoroughly prepare for international competition. Today was a very good day for the program.”


Michal Smolen (Gastonia, N.C.) continued his strong paddling on Friday, ranking 2nd among U23 Men’s Kayaks in the semifinal. The 18-year-old posted a time of 106.95, which was +0.16 seconds behind the semifinal’s first place finisher from the Czech Republic. Smolen will be joined in Saturday’s final by Rick Powell (Parkesburg, Pa.), who finished 4th with a penalty-free time of 107.03.

Smolen and Powell take to the water at 5 p.m. CST with World Championship medals on the line. Click HERE for live video streams. The U.S. will also compete in Saturday’s team events for U23 Women’s C1, U23 Men’s K1 and Junior Men’s K1.

Michal Smolen, Men’s K1: “I think I’ve finally gotten my head straight this summer, the first couple races didn’t go too well, like the World Cup and my selections. But now I think there’s a little home course advantage along with some focus. I stopped thinking too much about what was going to happen during the race and just tried to think about what I need to do and do the moves the best I can. I’m feeling very confident ahead of the finals but I’m also trying to not think about too many things. [I’m] just staying positive and figuring out exactly what I need to do in order to bump up my place in the finals.”

Richard Powell, Men’s K1: “It was a good day on the course today. I liked all the moves and I think I pulled them off okay. I feel like I’m not set up for the long sprints this course has to offer. The course I train on is in Charlotte, I moved there four years ago. I like the tight sprints the Charlotte course has to offer a little more. I was hoping to get top 10 finish.”

Caroline Queen (Darnestown, Md.), a 2012 Olympian, placed 8th among U23 Women’s Kayaks with a time of 132.46 to reach Sunday’s final. Her time included one two-second gate touch penalty and was +12.91 seconds back from the first place finisher in the semifinal. Ashley Nee (Darnestown, Md.) finished 17th with a time of 136.84, including two penalty seconds.

Caroline Queen, Women’s K1: “I’m excited to represent the U.S. in the final while racing here in Wausau.”

In U23 Women’s C1, Micki Reeves (Denver, Colo.) placed 7th with a time of 166.16, marking the fourth U.S. athlete to qualify for the final round in his or her event. The final takes place on Sunday.

Casey Eichfeld (Drums, Pa.), a 2012 Olympian, finished 17th in the U23 Men’s C1 semifinal with a time of 124.45, which was +9.90 seconds back from the first place finisher. Eichfeld will now turn his sights to the 2012 Olympic Games.

Casey Eichfeld, Men’s C1: “It is always hard to end a race with results below that of which you wanted. Unfortunately, I had a small loop at the end of my semis run and cost me the finals. That being said, our athletes have been competing with a lot of strength and determination. Now I will be cheering them on and helping them to do the best they can.”

Zachary Lokken (Durango, Colo.) headed into the Men’s Junior C1 semifinal on Friday with the fastest time through qualifying heats, but slipped to 11th with a time of 129.70. Eight penalty seconds were tough to overcome and he finished +9.90 seconds behind the first place finisher. Jordan Poffenberger (Fairfax, Va.) placed 27th with a time of 146.31, including eight penalty seconds.

In Men’s Junior C2, Michael Rudnitsky (Herndon, Va.) and Elliot Bertrand (New York, N.Y.) placed 13th with a time of 161.21, while Will Coggan (Boulder, Colo.) and Gabriel Machado (Louisville, Colo.) missed two gates en route to an 18th place finish.

In Women’s Junior C1, Moriah Heaney (Bethesda, Md.), Sarah Mosier (Port Matilda, Pa.) and Chelsea Easley (Wimberly, Texas) placed 15th, 16th, and 17th, respectively. Heaney finished in 222.39, including six penalty seconds.

In Women’s Junior K1, Evelyn Van Horn (Bellefonte, Pa.) and Anna Maria Ifarraguerri (McLean, Va.) finished 23rd and 26th, respectively. Van Horn’s time of 151.90 was +27.94 seconds behind the first place finisher.

Cully Brown (Durango, Colo.), Cole Moore (Cabin John, Md.), and Rudnitsky placed 25th, 39th, and 40th, respectively. Brown’s time of 125.76 was +12.92 seconds behind the first place finisher. Moore and Rudnitsky each missed gates to knock them out of contention for the final.


For the second day in a row, a U.S. paddler leads all athletes in his class through qualifying heats. Michal Smolen (Gastonia, N.C.) finished first among Men’s U23 Kayaks on Wednesday. After Thursday’s racing, Zachary Lokken (Durango, Colo.) sits atop the standings for Men’s Junior C1. Lokken’s penalty-free 2nd run time of 115.22 was 2.16 seconds faster than the second place finisher.

Joe Jacobi, USA Canoe/Kayak CEO: “Michal [Smolen] and Zach [Lokken] have infused a lot of energy and excitement into the team and the event itself by winning their respective qualification rounds. But there’s much more racing and a lot more work to be done. We’re looking forward to a big weekend in Wausau.”

Joining Lokken in Friday’s semifinal will be Jordan Poffenberger (Fairfax, Va.), who placed 28th with a 2nd run time of 130.41. Andre Sanborn (San Marcos, Texas) finished 32nd with a 1st run time of 137.78, including six penalty seconds.

Caroline Queen (Darnestown, Md.) and Ashley Nee (Darnestown, Md.) finished three-tenths of a second apart to come in at 12th and 13th, respectively, among Women’s U23 Kayaks. Queen, a 2012 Olympian, turned in a 1st run time of 125.52, including two penalty seconds. Nee’s penalty-free 2nd run time of 125.55 was +8.34 seconds behind the first place finisher. Both kayakers advance to Friday’s semifinal.

Another 2012 Olympian, Casey Eichfeld (Drums, Pa.), placed 13th in Men’s U23 C1 to reach Friday’s semifinal. His 2nd run time of 112.95, including one two-second gate touch penalty, was +3.56 seconds behind the first place finisher.

Evelyn Van Horn (Bellefonte, Pa.) and Anna Maria Ifarraguerri (McLean, Va.) advanced to Friday’s semifinal in Women’s Junior K1 by finishing 19th and 21st, respectively. Van Horn finished her 2nd run in 134.12, which was +18.29 seconds back from the first place finisher. Ifarraguerri turned in a penalty-free 1st run time of 135.94. Three gate touches were enough to keep Chelsea Easley (Wimberly, Texas) from advancing. She placed 31st with a 2nd run time of 150.24.

Friday’s racing begins 9 a.m. with the semifinal for every event. Click HERE for live video streams.

Aaron Mann, U.S. Assistant Coach: "Wausau is a demanding course both from a mental and physical perspective. Unlike most of the major international races this season, the course designers chose to set a course which most classes would have times well over one hundred seconds. This seemed to be an issue for some of our athletes through their first runs, but happily most were able to adapt quickly and advance on to the semi-finals. That said, the semi-finals/finals course should be faster and will provide the athletes with a new series of challenges. Overall, I am encouraged and am looking forward to helping our team make it through another day of racing."


Michal Smolen (Gastonia, N.C.) leads all U23 Men’s Kayaks after the qualifying heats on Wednesday at the 2012 Junior/U23 Slalom World Championships, advancing to Friday’s semifinal. Smolen, who also competes for the U.S. Senior National Team, turned in a penalty-free 2nd run time of 102.05, 0.21 seconds ahead of the second place finisher Martin Halcin of Slovakia. Halcin was the 2008 Junior World Champion and ranked 34th in the world among senior kayaks in 2012.

Rick Powell (Parkesburg, Pa.) also advanced after finishing 26th with a time of 110.34, including four seconds of penalty time. Simon Ranagan (Bethesda, Md.) placed 43rd with a time of 123.84. The top 40 kayaks advanced.

In U23 Women’s Canoe, Micki Reeves (Denver, Colo.) advances after finishing 7th with a second run time of 153.81, +15,71 from the first place finisher.

All three Junior Women’s Canoes advanced as Chelsea Easley (Wimberly, Texas), Moriah Heaney (Bethesda, Md.) and Sarah Mosier (Port Matilda, Pa.) placed 14th, 15th, and 17th, respectively. 2012 Olympic kayaker Jessica Fox of Australia ranks first in the canoe event after heats.

All three Junior Men’s Kayaks advanced as Michael Rudnitsky (Herndon, Va.), Cole Moore (Cabin John, Md.), and Cully Brown (Durango, Colo.) finish 30th, 38th and 39th, respectively. Rudnitsky’s 1st run time of 119.98, including one gate touch penalty, was 15.24 seconds back from the first place finisher.

Both Men’s Double Canoes advanced with Rudnitsky and Elliot Bertrand (New York, N.Y.) ranking 17th and Will Coggan (Boulder, Colo.) and Gabriel Machado (Louisville, Colo.) at 19th.

U.S. Olympians Casey Eichfeld (Drums, Pa.) and Caroline Queen (Darnestown, Md.) take to the water two days after officially being announced as two of the 530 athletes named to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team. On the schedule for Thursday will be the qualifying heats for U23 Men’s Single Canoe, U23 Women’s Kayak, Junior Men’s Single Canoe and Junior Women’s Kayak.


Simon Ranagan, Men’s U23 Kayak: “It’s surprisingly difficult. It looks very easy to the racers but once you are on the water it’s very hard to compete well. It’s a lot of fun having everyone around you supporting you cheering you on; it just feels good knowing you have the crowd’s support.”

Casey Eichfeld, Men’s U23 Single Canoe: “It’s nice for us to come back to natural course now and then and get back to our roots. I am thinking about keeping my bow down keeping the boat moving. And I have tunnel vision, it’s all about the water and me.”

Caroline Queen, Women’s U23 Kayak: “It’s pretty awesome, the selection process was 9-10 months, so it took a while. But now I can focus my energy on the Olympic Games.”


Representing the United States will be...

U23 Women’s Kayak

Caroline Queen** (Darnestown, Md.)

Ashley Nee* (Darnestown, Md.)

U23 Men’s Kayak

Michal Smolen* (Gastonia, N.C.)

Rick Powell* (Parkesburg, Pa.)

Simon Ranagan (Bethesda, Md.)

U23 Women’s Single Canoe

Micki Reeves* (Denver, Colo.) 

U23 Men’s Single Canoe

Casey Eichfeld** (Drums, Pa.)

Junior Women’s Kayak

Anna Maria Ifarraguerri (McLean, Va.)

Evelyn Van Horn (Bellefonte, Pa.)

Chelsea Easley (Wimberly, Texas)

Junior Men’s Kayak

Michael Rudnitsky (Herndon, Va.)

Cole Moore (Cabin John, Md.)

Cully Brown (Durango, Colo.)

Junior Women’s Single Canoe

Chelsea Easley (Wimberly, Texas)

Sarah Mosier (Port Matilda, Pa.)

Moriah Heaney (Bethesda, Md.)

Junior Men’s Single Canoe

Zachary Lokken* (Durango, Colo.)

Jordan Poffenberger (Fairfax, Va.)

Andre Sanborn (San Marcos, Texas)

Junior Men’s Double Canoe

Elliot Bertrand (New York, N.Y.) / Rudnitsky

Will Coggan (Boulder, Colo.) / Gabriel Machado (Louisville, Colo.) 

*2012 Senior National Team Member

** 2012 Olympic Nominee

All eyes in the Olympic paddling community will be on Wausau as it hosts one of the last officially sanctioned slalom races prior to the London 2012 Games. Many of the young athletes will be looking ahead to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. But for at least three competitors, the Junior/U23 World Championships mark the final tune-up for the 2012 Olympic Games. Kayaker Jessica Fox of Australia and Americans Caroline Queen and Casey Eichfeld hope to gain valuable momentum heading into London.

Paddlers age 19 to 23 will compete in the inaugural U23 World Championships. Junior athletes are between the ages of 15 and 18. Foix, France hosted the last Junior World Championships in 2010. Wausau also hosted the 1994 Junior World Championships and the 2001 ICF World Cup Finals. Nations such as Great Britain, Czech Republic, Australia, and Canada will send over 20 athletes each. The continents of South America, Africa and Asia will also be represented.

The 250-meter whitewater course runs through downtown Wausau. The festivities kick off Tuesday evening with a Parade of Athletes through downtown Wausau. Races begin 9 a.m. each day and conclude at approximately 3 p.m. Admission to all events are free. The 2012 World Championships are presented by the International Canoe Federation, USA Canoe/Kayak and the Wausau Kayak/Canoe Corporation.

Eichfeld, 22, and Queen, 20, have spent much of the past two months training and competing in Europe. They took a break from pre-Games training at the London 2012 slalom venue to compete this week in Wausau. Both fly back to London on the 16th, 11 days before they will walk in Opening Ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Eichfeld clinched his second Olympic berth with a 6th place finish in Men’s Single Canoe at the 2012 Senior World Cup No. 1 in Cardiff, Wales on June 9. Eichfeld competed in Doubles Canoe at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Queen booked her ticket to London with a 35th place finish in Cardiff, edging out Senior and U23 National Team Member Ashley Nee for the lone women’s slalom kayak spot at the 2012 Games.

Eichfeld, Queen and Nee are joined by four other athletes who competed for the U.S. Senior National Team at international events during the 2012 season. Kayaker Michal Smolen and canoeist Zach Lokken each earned two Gold medals and one Silver medal on the 2011 Vadja Teen Cup circuit. Canoeist Micki Reeves and kayaker Rick Powell gained valuable experience racing on the 2012 Senior World Cup circuit, placing as high as 8th and 53rd, respectively.


Casey Eichfeld, U.S. Men’s Canoe: “The U23 World Championships are going to be really exciting! It is great to see so many athletes and nations here in the United States for once. This race also is going to be great in helping me prepare for the upcoming Olympics as well as my general experience.”

Aaron Mann, U.S. Slalom Assistant Coach: "It has been about eleven years since a major international competition has been held in the United States. With that said, I think everyone from the people of Wausau to the athletes of the U.S. Junior/U23 Team are extremely excited for this opportunity. After a week of preparation in temperatures reaching well over 100 degrees on the heat index, our athletes seem prepared to rise to the challenge of competing in their home country."

Joe Jacobi, USA Canoe/Kayak CEO: “Hosting a World Championships is a tremendous opportunity and responsibility. The inaugural U23 category makes this event even more special. Most of all, we are honored to welcome the international community and the leadership of the International Canoe Federation back to the United States and look forward to a great week of racing in Wausau.” 

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.