Czech kayakers Ondrej Tunka and Katerina Kudejova have proven too strong at canoe slalom's New Zealand Open, while the national selection battle heated up on the Mangahao River near Palmerston North.
Tunka, the reigning K1 men's world champion, had a clear 89.62s run in yesterday's final to take the win from young Austrian star Matthias Weger. Although Weger touched a gate and picked up a 2s penalty, he was still 2.51s behind Tunka, with Australian Lucien Delfour third another 0.14s further adrift.
Kudejova, the 2015 world champion, wasn't quite as dominant in the women's K1 final, with her 99.04s time just 0.26s ahead of France's Camille Prigent and 0.72s in front of third-placed Kiwi Luuka Jones.
Jones took out the women's C1 final, however, warming up for next weekend's Oceania Championships in style. Her 109.69s time was more than 16s in front of Hannah Thomas (Great Britain) with Australia's Demelza Wall third.
"I haven't done much race preparation so it's nice to be doing some racing again," Jones said.
"I'm happy with the weekend overall - my K1 was solid on a tricky course and I was really happy with my C1, where I paddled pretty well, so I'm looking forward to next weekend."
Jones and fellow Olympian Mike Dawson are exempt from selection battles, courtesy of their world championship results last year, but below them the battle for the two remaining K1 spots in the national team went up a notch.
Tauranga's Jack Dangen was the fastest qualifier on Saturday and followed that up with a 10th in yesterday's final, while fellow Bay of Plenty local Callum Gilbert posted a fifth and a seventh over the two days. Alexandra's Finn Butcher, meanwhile, picked up a third in qualifying and followed it up as the leading Kiwi, in sixth, in the final.
"It was a bit touch and go in the semifinal with four touches but I managed to scrape through," Butcher said.
"The first weekend of selection is always a bit stressful so it was good to get it done. The final run was pretty good really - I had nothing to lose after qualifying in 10th so decided to give it a bit more."
Patrick Washer won the men's C1 crown, meanwhile, edging another Czech paddler, Lukas Rohan, in the final by just 0.01s, after Rohan picked up a touch.
Ben Gibb was third, ahead of fellow Kiwis James Thwaite and Dawson, who missed the K1 final after a barrage of touches but showed his versatility in the canoe class.
This weekend's Oceania Championships will see a big contingent of Australian paddlers competing, including reigning K1 world champion and former C1 world champion Jess Fox.