October 3, 2005 Penrith, Australia
by Larry Dieker
The Slalom World Championships in Penrith, Australia wrapped up on Monday with the team competition. In the team competition, sets of 3 paddlers from each country paddle down the course at the same time. Timing begins when the first paddler passes through the start gate and stops when the last paddler crosses the finish line.
The US men's canoe team of Benn Fraker (Peachtree City, Ga.), Austin Crane (Marietta, Ga.) and Jeff Larimer (Marietta, Ga.) finished the day in eighth place. They had a solid set of runs but were 39 seconds off of the winning time posted by the French team. The French team included the two time Olympic gold-medalist Tony Estanguet, Pierre Labarelle and Olivier Lalliet.
The US men's kayak team of Brett Heyl (Bethesda, Md.), Scott Parsons (Bethesda, Md.) and Scott Mann (Bryson City, N.C.) had two very strong runs, but were only good enough to finish in ninth place. Winning the event was the French team which included 2004 Athens gold medalist Benoit Peschier, 2004 Athens bronze medalist and defending World Champion Fabian Lefevre and Julien Billaut.
The US did not field a team in the women's kayak or men's double canoe team competitions.
Brett Heyl (Bethesda, Md.) was the top finisher in the men's kayak class for the United States.
Friday's qualifying heats for men's kayaks had narrowed the field so that only the top 40 competitors were eligible for Sunday morning's semi-finals. From there, only the top 10 advanced to the afternoon finals.
Brett Heyl (Bethesda, Md.) was the top finisher in the men's kayak class for the United States, finishing a respectable 16th place in the world. Heyl had a smooth run, but finished a mere four seconds off of the leader in the semi-final. The competition was extremely tight, with the top 20 competitors separated by only 5 seconds.
Scott Parsons (Bethesda, Md.) was the next best finishing US boat, coming in 26th. Parsons said he went into the first gate a little off of his preferred line and never felt in his groove the rest of the way. Scott Mann (Bryson City, N.C.) had an extremely fast semi-final run until he got to the bottom portion of the course, where he approached a gate from the wrong angle and ended up having to loop around back to make it. Mann finished in 35th.
Sunday was a very interesting final in the kayak class, where a few of the biggest names in the sport failed to even make the final. In the end, Fabian Doerfler of Germany pulled out the win by nearly three seconds over the defending champion Fabien Lefevre of France. Peter Cibak of Slovakia won the silver.
Men's double canoe was also contested on Sunday--a class in which the US did not field an entry. The German boat of Bahmann and Senft were the class of the field, winning by more than four and a half seconds. The Slovakian boat of Kuban and Olejnik was second, and the German boat of Becker and Henze was third.
For more information and to keep track of results, please visit the USA Canoe/Kayakwebsite. There you will find links to live results, more information about each US team member, event information, photos and more.