The German youth team coming to Youth and Euro Champs 2012 has one change in the team since their success at the 2010 Youth WRC. The team consists of Leonhard Anzinger, René Raschka, Merlin and Gabriel Holzapfel.
They train at the 1972 Olympic canoe slalom course in Augsburg (the first one in the world) four times per week, sometimes with help from their coaches: Peter Mcheler and Reiner Simanowski. They will go a couple of days early to the Czech Republic for preparation.
Don’t worry if you think you’re seeing double when you are watching them, they have twins in their team, which is certainly unique in the rafting world. We interview one of the twins – Gabriel Holzapfel.
This year you took part in the “EKSTREMSPORTVEKO” Euro Cup R4 competition in Norway, which is one of the most technically demanding courses in Europe and this is a compliment for such a young team like yours. Was this part of the preparation for Youth WRC, and what was your impression of it?
“Yes we did, it’s really very demanding and treacherous! It was also our very first time we paddled in R4, as the complete team!! So, we had one and a half trainings on the river and then we immediately started the competition. But that’s what we wanted, a perfect competition before the Youth WRC and it was the only possibility. We immediately got our result – where to work more and what we are good at, what it means to be concentrated and what it means to be treated as the favourites (again!!!) …so we made big and perfect progress as we wanted.”
In the competition in Austria on the Salza River this year you can see the fantastic progress of the Brazilian team; the Czech team is on home ground; the Turkish team were good in the Netherlands; plus there are other teams willing to prove them selves, and so your competition is not easy at all, what do you think of others?
“Because we didn’t take part in the last world champs, so we are more or less the “newcomers” again, but of course we know about our strengths – we think that others like Brazil, train a lot more, because they have a sponsor and don’t study … so we don’t have the chance to fully concentrate on our sport and the result.”
You started with a 5th place in the Sprint and the H2H Youth WRC 2010, do you need a little extra time to get used to the track?
“Maybe we were too sure that all will work, because Sprint doesn’t seem too difficult at a first glance, it just looks like going down straight!! But you need full concentration, also it is the first race and with the less points BUT it gives you the start position for H2H, and that was why H2H was similarly bad! Basically we had to win everything!! Because Slalom and Downriver we won confidently!!!”
“For sure Slalom is “ours” but also Sprint – we trained a lot of Sprint, to get the basics and this is also the base for the next parts of the competition. Secondly, three of us are slalom canoeists, so we are used to the gates and have or should have the perfect feeling for the water and should be able to read it (on every course, after enough trainings …) – we are also strong in fighting, learned it … and if we don’t have bad luck in the Sprint, we will have a good position and will also do well in the H2H.
In the photographs you can see how the artificial course in Czech looks, what do you think about it?
“The course seems much longer, and much more broad!! So we’ll have more to paddle from A to B … in the middle is the stream and the eddies are big, so we will have to paddle deep into the eddies … also it’s possible because of the obstacles to give us difficult gates!!”
And what about the Downriver course?
“Well, I think this is a perfect course for the Youth Worlds, to show that you have good endurance!! There are enough places to have a good start fight, and to overtake other boats everywhere. So it’s more paddling (intelligently) the distance and to arrange the power to the full length of the course.”
What is it that you expect from Youth WRC?
“A satisfying result as medalists, first 3 minimum!”
Yes, they are very sure of themselves, and looking at previous results, with good reason. Competition in the male Youth WRC at this level, will be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the quality in the Euro Champs. It will be enjoyable to watch them knowing that there are good teams coming up in the next generation.