Caroline Queen competes in the Women’s U23 kayak single championship during the International Canoe Federation Junior & U23 Canoe Slalom World Championships on Sunday at Wausau Whitewater Park. Queen, a member of the U.S. Olympic team, finished ninth. / T'xer Zhon Kha/Wausau Daily Herald
For Caroline Queen, it was about the experience.
The finals did not end in a medal for the United States Olympic team member at the International Canoe Federation Junior & U23 Canoe Slalom World Championships.
But what the 20-year-old gained was far greater and lessons she will take with her across the ocean to London for the Olympics at the end of July.
"There was a lot of good stuff in my run and I'm happy to get any experience I can in finals," she said. "I knew that if I paddled well, I would make it to finals. I am glad on that front."
Queen had a solid run in the finals with just one penalty and finished ninth with a time of 135.51 seconds in the Women's U23 kayak single championship Sunday. Katerina Kudejova of the Czech Republic claimed the title with a flawless run of 117.11. Six of the 10 finalists did not incur a penalty on their runs.
"I had a penalty on Gate 3 that was not so great," Queen said. "The biggest thing is I took a risk on Gate 10 to go direct ... it caused me to be a little late in Gate 12 and I lost my balance."
Queen will be joined by Men's U23 canoe single semifinalist Casey Eichfeld at the Olympics, and she was one of four Americans to reach the finals.
On Saturday, Rick Powell (third) and Michal Smolen (fifth) took part in the Men's U23 kayak single, while Micki Reeves was sixth in the Women's U23 canoe single.
Queen was thankful for the test of being in the world championships, and now is looking forward to applying what she learned against the Olympic field.
"This course is a little long and takes good endurance, so I thought it would be a good test of my fitness, and I think I did well on that end," she said. "It was great to come home (to the United States) for a little bit.
"The community here has been so supportive and it's a good reminder that Americans are behind the U.S. team and I felt that a lot. That's a big thing."
Next up, London
Australia's Jessica Fox entered the junior world championships with a bull's eye on her back.
That's not surprising, considering she was the defending champion in both the canoe single and the kayak single, and is heading to London for the Olympics at the end of the month.
Perhaps not as surprising was Fox defending her titles in both events, capped with a win in the kayak single Sunday after winning the canoe single final on Saturday.
"I guess I was coming in as the favorite being the junior world champion at the last worlds, so I had a little pressure on myself," Fox said. "The level of the girls here is really high and they have all improved a lot since last time. It was a tough competition. In the final, it was quite tight between the top three, so I was really how with how it went. I'm very happy."
Fox was the last to take the course in the kayak single final, and raced down in a time of 120.23 seconds to take home her third gold of the weekend. In addition to her two individual golds, she was also a member of Australia's U23 canoe single team victory.
And while it might have looked easy to the crowd, it wasn't.
"It's tough defending your title," Fox said. "The girls are very good. I am happy I was able to defend my title and a gold medal at world championships is always nice."
The 18-year-old also is happy for the tune-up the race provided leading up to the Olympics.
"It's a confidence boost," she said. "Throughout the weekend, I was happy I had clean runs, except for this run I had one touch. It's a confidence boost leading up to the Olympics."
Bringing home the gold
Other individual champions crowned on Sunday were Italy's Roberto Colazingari in the Men's U23 canoe single and France's Cedric Joly in the Men's Junior canoe single.
Men's U23 kayak single
Jiri Prskavec, Czech Republic
Men's U23 canoe single
Roberto Colazingari, Italy
Men's U23 canoe double
Robert Behling/Thomas Becker, Germany
Men's Junior kayak single
Mirolslav Urban, Slovakia
Men's Junior canoe single
Cedric Joly, France
Men's Junior canoe double
Pavel Kovalkov/Artem Bogdanov, Russia
Women's U23 kayak single
Katerina Kudejova, Czech Republic
Women's U23 canoe single
Rosalyn Lawrence, Australia
Women's Junior kayak single
Jessica Fox, Australia
Women's Junior canoe single
Jessica Fox, Australia