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Casey Eichfeld Wins Bronze in World Cup Final

Casey Eichfeld took home his first career medal in a major race in C1 slalom canoe, when he took home the bronze in the World Cup Final in Ljubljanna, Slovenia, Saturday afternoon.
Eichfeld (Drums, PA) came into the day looking as strong as he ever has. In qualifying on Friday, he took home the second fastest time in the field, only behind Matej Benus of Slovakia, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist in the event. Eichfeld was right on his heels, finishing only .85 seconds behind, with no penalties.
His semifinal run was even better earlier Saturday, posting the best overall time, again with no penalties, shaving more than a second off of his qualifying time. He looked ready to attack right from the beginning, and he rolled through the entire course. With the top time going into the finals, Eichfeld looked set to not only win his first career medal in a major event, but perhaps to win a gold.
However, in the final, Eichfeld wasn’t able to out muscle impressive runs by Benjamin Savsek of the host nation Slovenia, and Alexander Slafkovsky of Slovakia, who finished first and second respectively. Eichfeld finished 2.45 seconds out of first, but his impressive run, which again was without penalties, was enough to win the bronze. He let out an emphatic yell after his run, knowing full well that he had done enough to win a medal.
It was the culmination of many encouraging signs from the 26-year old Eichfeld. Even before his solid seventh place showing in Rio, he had finished fourth at the World Championships a year ago, only missing out on a medal because of a penalty. He has only improved throughout the past few seasons, and this medal has shown that he can take home medals against the stiffest of competitors.
While competition is normally weaker immediately after the Olympics, it was still a big victory for Eichfeld. It was the first medal for an American male in C1 in over a decade in a World Cup race.
Eichfeld and the United States will have another opportunity to medal before the Canoe Slalom World Cup packs up, as he will be pairing with Devin McEwan in the men’s C2 competition on Sunday. The duo qualified for the semifinals on Friday, shortly after Eichfeld posted his blistering time in the individual event. The semis and finals will both be run on Sunday. Eichfeld and McEwan finished 14th in qualifying, after finishing 10th in the event in Rio just a month ago.
The United States also received a promising finish by Michael Smolen in the K1 event on Saturday, as he finished ninth in the final race. While the overall result was promising for the program as a whole, Smolen seemed poised for better, after qualifying with the fastest time, and finishing third overall in the semis. He was bogged down by two penalties, causing him to finish over 14 seconds behind first place.

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Dan is a Staff Writer here at with a focus on Team USA and the Rio Olympics
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