Sunday, 11 November 2012

Tomas Slovak and Manuela Stöberl are the new ICF Classic Marathon World Series 2012 winners

Tomas Slovak winning the Adige Marathon, in Italy
The ICF Marathon Classic World Series are completed this year with the dispute in a tight October of Cesky Krumlov (CZE) and Adige Marathon (ITA), whose winners have become the winners of the series, replacing Spaniard Kiko Vega and South African Hilary Pitchford, 2011 title holders.  Slovakian Tomas Slovak and German Manuela Stöberl, both specialists in white water descent, got enough points to be the new champions in 2012. Anyway, Tomas Slovak got two victories on a surfski from his sponsor Vajda. With the ICF Marathon Series still in their childhood, they may need some review of the criteria. In South Africa, many years ago, surfskis were banned at river descents, since being longer and watertight, buoyancy in waves and the speed they were getting was an unfairness against the traditional K1. 
The series started in early April with the Devizes to Westminster, terrific English race of 125 miles (about 180 km.) and 77 portages, raced in a single day by K2s, while K1s do it in four stages.
Belgian Jan Laenen started here with a win, which added to his appearences in four other races, including Waterland Marathon (Netherlands), the Dansland Marathon (Sweden) and the Tour of Gudeena (Denmark), have led him to take the second position in the series, while the third was to Danish veteran René Olsen, who has completed an excellent season at 37 years, becoming winner in the Dansland Marathon and also scoring points in the Waterland Marathon and the Sella Descent.

Regarding the Women, German National Team member Manuela Stöberl got the necessary points in Cesky Krumlov and the Adige to overcome a good friend of Elite Kayak, Birgit Pontoppidan (DEN), which had  led the series until that moment with her fourth place at Sella Descent and her victory a week later at the Swedish Dansland Marathon. The third final place went to Yvonne Glynn (IRL).

In C1, domain of whitewater paddlers, who participated at the Liffey, Cesky Krumlov and Adige to get enough points to get on the podium, which was composed by Antonin Hales (CZE) as winner, Tomislav Lepin (CRO) in second place and David Jirka (CZE) in third.

Manuela Stöberl (GER)
ICF World Series A largely untapped good idea?
 Looking ahead, regardless of participation of surfskis in the scoring categories, we should also be thinking about some professional way (always very complicated, of course) that enables the most serious candidates to participate in at least half of the races, so two wins in the month of October, without having participated in any of the other 10 races throughout the year, will allow to get the title. And watch out, we are not having anything against Tomas Slovak and the other winners, extraordinary paddlers of proven quality. But if ICF wants to create a world series like those made in other sports such as surfing, mountain biking and beach volleyball (or even other canoeing disciplines like surfski), they should take a step in that direction perhaps by the hand of a common sponsor to all races and to low down the likely fee they pay to be included (I don't know, but it looks like it works like that) and allow that money going to support the participation of big names. If not, these series risk to slowly die of exhaustion and lack of interest.

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