Aug. 19, ATHENS, Greece – All four U.S. men who competed in Thursday’s qualifying runs in whitewater slalom canoe/kayak made it through to the semifinals on Friday.
The C-2 (two-person canoe) duo of Matt Taylor (Atlanta, Ga.) and Joe Jacobi (Ducktown, Tenn.) finished sixth after two runs on the artificial whitewater course at the Helliniko Sports Complex. After the first run, the team was tied for ninth with only ten boats advancing to the semifinals. A much faster second run gave them a combined time of 223.43 with six total seconds of penalties. Two-second penalties are given for each time an athlete touches a gate.
In men’s K-1 (one-person kayak) action, Brett Heyl (Norwich, Vt.) ended the qualifying runs in the fifth position with a combined time of 192.29. Scott Parsons (Sylvania, Ohio) came in 14th with a posting of 198.21. Both had clean first runs and two-second penalties in the second. Twenty of the 25 boats advanced to the semifinals.
For athlete bios and more information, check out the official team Web site, www.usacanoekayak.org.
In C-2, Taylor and Jacobi used what they learned during their first time down the course to complete a much faster second attempt.
“The first run is what we call learning. We were very focused, but we’ve never been on this gate combination before. We had a strategy and we stuck to it, but we needed to change that strategy between runs. We changed a few moves and exits and were more patient, and it worked,” Taylor said.
“We knew so much more after the first run. It was a challenging situation, but we found out some things about ourselves. It was definitely one aspect of this Olympic journey in that second run,” Jacobi added.
Heyl is confident in his paddling as he thinks about Friday’s race.
“It was two good runs as a whole with one touch,” Heyl said. “Tomorrow, I have to push it a little more. I’m going to paddle the way I know how to paddle.”
Jacobi and Taylor will start in the C-2 semifinals Friday at 10:10 a.m. Athens time, or 3:10 a.m. Eastern time, 12:10 a.m. Pacific time. Parsons has a start time of 10:50, and Heyl will head down the course at 11:12:30. In the C-2 class, six boats will advance to the finals on Friday. Ten will advance in the K-1 race.
Quotes from Jacobi and Taylor
Jacobi on competing at the Olympics:
“How much better can life be than doing the sport you love with your best friend in front of 8,000 people?!”
Jacobi on the experience:
“We’re really having fun and are excited about this opportunity, but we’re being sure to recognize what we did well today and not focus on what we didn’t do well.”
Jacobi on his partner:
“I was ready to paddle pleasurably today, and Matt makes it easy to do that.”
Jacobi on crossing the finish line tomorrow:
“Everything here is a beginning, not an ending. Whatever that means, I’m ok with it.”
Taylor on the semifinals:
“We had a lot more information between runs. For tomorrow, we have even more information. We’ll have to work for it, and as long as we can keep learning, if we can learn right up to the run, we’ll be ok.”
Taylor on the course:
“This is the artificial course that feels most like a natural river.”
Taylor on the competition:
“This is a fun course and we have a great field of competitors. All the boats have great paddlers, and those are your favorite races.”