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Rick Powell


Rick Powell found it hard to stop smiling Saturday morning at the 2012 International Canoe Federation Junior & U23 Canoe Slalom World Championships.

And it was understandable, considering the 23-year-old just had his best run of the week and finished third in the Men's U23 kayak single final.

"I'm pretty happy I am on the podium," said Powell, who finished the course in 107.01 seconds. "I pulled a solid run and it was all I needed."

Jiri Prskavec of the Czech Republic took home the title with a flawless run that covered the course in 102.42 seconds.

Powell was seeded fourth entering the championship race, and was in third place after his run. He then had to wait anxiously for the final three riders to see if he would remain on the podium.

It turned out, he would -- barely. Top seed Ondrej Tunka of the Czech Republic was the last to take the course, and he finished fourth with a time of 107.16.

"You're cheering for your teammates and for everyone to do well, but secretly you're hoping that your run was good enough," he said.

Powell's result was not the only good news for the United States contingent in the race. Michal Smolen, the top qualifier for the semis and the No. 2 seed entering the final, placed fifth overall.

While Powell -- who was a member of the U.S. Olympic team in 2008 on the canoe double event -- entered the semifinals nervous to make the championship, his mind was more at ease this time around, and it paid off with a bronze medal.

"I was less nervous because there's only 10 people you have to beat instead of 40 (in the semifinals),'' Powell said.

In the Women's U23 canoe single, American Micki Reeves placed sixth overall to give the USA a strong showing in the competition. Reeves completed the course in 174.78 seconds. Australia's Rosalyn Lawrence finished her domination of the weekend int he race with a victory.

U.S. Olympian Caroline Queen is the only American in the finals today as she will try to medal in the Women's U23 kayak single final. Queen is the No. 8 seed entering the championship race.

Other champions crowned were Germany's Robert Behling and Thomas Becker in the Men's U23 canoe double, Australia's Jessica Fox in the Women's Junior canoe single, Slovakia's Miroslav Urban in the Men's Junior kayak single and Russia's Pavel Kovalkov and Artem Bogdanov in the Men's Junior canoe double.

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