Published on September 9th, 2022 | by Paddleworld
Connor Baxter reclaimed his world title and April Zilg celebrated her birthday with her first world crown as the Americans took two of the gold medals on offer at the International Canoe Federation Stand Up Paddling World Championships in Gdynia, Poland, on Thursday.
Baxter won sprint gold at the inaugural ICF SUP World Championships in China in 2019, but lost his crown to Frenchman Noic Garioud in Hungary last year. On Thursday he took the lead early in the 180 metre race and defied chasing down from Garioud, who has recently recovered from a knee injury.
“Losing this title in Hungary after winning in China, there was much fire in me that was burning,” Baxter said.
“To go out there and out on a show, it was exactly what I had planned, it was exactly what I was training for, so I’m really stoked. I’ve just been trying to hold on to that number one for 15 years now, there’s still fire when I want it.
“All the sacrifices, it puts a little mental wear and tear on you, but when you’re on that start line it all goes out the window, tunnel vision goes into effect and you only have one thing on your mind.”
Garioud took the silver, while Italian Claudio Nika added another bronze to the silver and bronze he has won at the past two ICF world championships.
April Zilg finished third in the sprint at last year’s ICF world championships and had to survive an intense tussle with France’s Melanie Lafenetre to take her first world crown.
Zilg, who only confirmed her entry to the world championships with an ICF world cup gold in Oklahoma last month, took the title on her 35th birthday.
“It’s a good day, it’s been a great birthday,” Zilg said.
“Every single heat today was a great challenge, and a long day of having all the heats crammed into one day. It always comes down to recovery strategies between the heats.
“I got into this 11 years ago to improve upon myself, I’m always pushing and striving to improve on my previous best. I don’t like to compare myself to other people, but this is icing on my birthday cake.”
France’s Amandine Chazot took the bronze medal.
Cameron Tripney from South Africa was a surprise gold medalist in the men’s junior race, while Italy’s Cecilia Pampinella took the women’s junior crown.
The ICF SUP world championships will continue on Friday with the long distance races.