Tauranga's Callum Gilbert aims to make the most of a fortunate twist of fate at this weekend's second Canoe Slalom World Cup of the season in Poland.
He will line-up in a six-strong New Zealand team in Krakow tomorrow night, after initially missing selection in the men's K1 ranks behind Mike Dawson, Jack Dangen and Finn Butcher.
Butcher has skipped the first two rounds to focus on the coming under-23 world championships, while Dangen is returning home after this weekend, meaning Gilbert - initially named as reserve - gets a chance to reclaim the form which saw him make all five World Cup semifinals two years ago.
"Being able to do the first four World Cups is great given the selection result - I've always enjoyed racing and I'm very grateful to be able to do the amount I am doing this year," Gilbert said.
He came agonisingly close to making the semifinals with Dawson in Slovakia last weekend, with a fast raw time in his first run marred by a missed gate and a single touch knocking him out of the repechage round, just 0.37s off the top-10 who progressed through.
Gilbert has plenty of experience in Krakow, having finished 18th at the under-23 world championships at the same venue two years ago.
"It's quite a fast-paced course with lots of things coming at you quickly and I really enjoy it. I'm looking forward to the challenge of that along with some good competition this weekend," he said.
Dawson and Luuka Jones were the only Kiwis to progress out of the heats last week, with Jones making both the C1 and K1 semifinals.
Both struggled with touches at that stage, although Dawson went all the way through to the extreme slalom final, where he picked up silver.
Racing will start Friday night, New Zealand time.