A windy, partly cloudy day in Rio set the stage on Thursday afternoon for the men’s canoe double (C2) and the women’s kayak single (K1) slalom events at Whitewater Stadium.
Smiles came from the Skantar cousins as IOC member Ung Chang approached the medal podium with two golds in his hand.
Ladislav and Peter Skantar of Slovakia are now Olympic champions in the men’s C2 event at the Rio Games.
The Slovakian cousins finished first overall in the heats on Monday and were the men to beat from the get-go. They dropped in fifth to the slalom course in the final and threw down the gauntlet, finishing in 101.58 seconds – which painted a target on their backs.
Great Britain’s David Florence, who missed out on a medal in the canoe singles final, and teammate Richard Hounslow won silver, the same result they achieved at the London Games. They were slightly slower than the gold medalists and finished in 102.01.
World number one pair Gauthier Klauss and Matthieu Peche of France were also no match for the speed of the Slovakian duo. Their time of 103.24 awarded them the bronze medal.
The biggest shocker of the day came courtesy of the gold medal favorites, Czech Republic’s Jonas Kaspar and Marek Sindler, who had a commanding lead and were in pole position for the gold medal. The crowd was silenced, however, when the world number two team flipped over and cost themselves a medal.
After the races were completed, Slovakia took home its second whitewater medal of the Rio Games (Matej Benus, C1 silver). The gold medal today for Ladislav and Peter Skantar makes five-straight C2 medals for Slovakia. Slovakian twins Peter and Pavol Hochschorner had won C2 medals in the last four Olympics.
Americans Casey Eichfeld and Devin McEwan, bronze medal contenders, sneaked into the final and were the first to drop, but couldn’t improve their run. Four costly two-second penalties finished them in 10th.
When Maialen Chourraut crossed the finish line and looked up at her time, screams of joy echoed in Whitewater Stadium.
Chourraut, the silver medal favorite behind Australia’s Jessica Fox, exceeded everyone’s expectations and won Spain its first Olympic gold medal in women’s K1.
Australia’s Jessica Fox, who won silver at the 2012 London Games, originally finished in 100.49, but after careful video examination from the judges, she indeed grazed a gate and accrued a two-second penalty. If it wasn’t for the penalty, Fox would have won silver; instead, the world number one women’s slalom kayaker took home bronze.
Luuka Jones, however, won New Zealand their first-ever whitewater medal. She remained a consistent threat throughout the Games and finished the final in 101.82.
At the conclusion of the women’s final, Chourraut stepped out of the water and kissed and embraced her young daughter after achieving her second Olympic medal. The 33-year-old won bronze at the 2012 London Games.
Team USA’s Ashley Nee did not advance to the final.
The women will add a slalom event at the 2020 Tokyo Games, where the women’s canoe single event will be introduced.