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Jones sharp in canoe slalom World Cup

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/06/2017

Luuka Jones showed her pursuit of a Tokyo Olympic double is no pipedream after a storming opening to the second World Cup canoe slalom in Germany.

The Rio Olympic silver medallist qualified for the semi-finals in both the C1 and K1 classes for the first time in her career.

She looked solid in qualifying 14th in the K1 division, then shocked herself by qualifying fourth-fastest in the C1 class in her first season of competition.

"I was stoked to finish fourth mostly because it was a good time and really competitive," Jones said.

"Because I haven't been paddling it for very long, I didn't know what to expect so I guess I was a bit surprised to finish so high up."

The C1 women's class was recently added to the 2020 Olympic programme.

Competitors kneel in their canoe boats with a single-bladed paddle, as opposed to sitting in K1 kayaks with a double-blade.

Jones hit two gates on the way down the Augsburg course in her C1 run, picking up four seconds' worth of time penalties, but her 120.81sec time was just 5.59sec behind top qualifier Kimberly Woods (Britain).

Double world champion Australian Jess Fox was second-fastest in 118.02, ahead of Spain's Nuria Vilarrubla (118.89).

Jones also picked up two touches in her opening K1 run but held it together to post a 108.39sec time, 5.20secs behind leader Mallory Franklin (Britain).

"I had a massive touch on gate two and the poles were swinging and it wasn't a really good start to the run but overall it was solid," Jones said.

"I guess I had a pretty fast time considering that it felt a bit off the whole way down."

Meanwhile, Alexandra's Finn Butcher was the only New Zealand man to progress to the semi-finals, although he needed to break a second-run drought to do it.

Mike Dawson was the fastest Kiwi in the first run of the K1 in 37th, with Callum Gilbert 41st, but Butcher picked up a 50sec penalty for missing a gate.

For the first time at World Cup level, however, Butcher qualified through the repechage second run, with his 98.84sec time good enough for ninth.

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