World Cup #2 in Marrkleeberg, Germany, was a memorable one for Team USA. Three athletes progressed in both kayak and canoe events (with Evy Leibfarth progressing in WK-1 and WC-1) to the semifinal and Michal Smolen to the kayak final. However, due to a COVID-19 related incident, these athletes were unable to perform in canoe events on the final day of competition.
The Markkleeberg Word Cup was the last major senior international competition before the Tokyo Olympic Games next month, which begin on July 23.
Tokyo bound athletes,Leibfarth and Smolen, progressed in their first runs of the women’s and men’s K-1. Leibfarth finished 9th out of the top 20 to qualify for the semifinal in the first run (another 10 qualify after run 2. This system is the same for the men’s event). Smolen finished 16th out of the top 20 to qualify. Joshua Joseph advancedto the semifinal after finishing third in his second run.
In the women’s kayak semifinal on Day 2 of the competition, Leibfarth finished in 11th place with only the top 10 athletes progressing to the final. Smolen finished 7th in the men’s semifinal and 7th in the final.
The afternoon sessions on Day 1 featured the canoe events. Evy Leibfarthfinished 8th in her first run, once again qualifying for the semifinal without a second run. On the men’s side, Casey Eichfeld and Zach (Bug) Lokken did much the same, earning 17th and 18th place, respectively, after their first runs to automatically earn semifinal qualification.
Due to the COVID-19 incident, Leibfarth, Eichfeld and Lokken did not compete in the semifinals or finals of the canoe events.
The weekend prior at World Cup 1 in Prague, Czech Republic, Smolen and Lokken were chosen to represent Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics in their respective events. With that, three U.S. slalom athletes will head to the Games this summer, including Evy Leibfarth, who will compete in both WK-1 and WC-1.
Up next for slalom athletes is the ICF Junior & U23 World Championships in Ljubljana-Tacen, Slovenia on July 6 – 11, 2021.