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Nova Scotia’s elite paddlers will face a stiff challenge to get back to the world sprint canoe-kayak championships this August.

Nova Scotia’s elite paddlers will face a stiff challenge to get back to the world sprint canoe-kayak championships this August.

After a record 11 Bluenosers were among 40 Canadians to hit the water on Lake Banook in Dartmouth for last year’s worlds, the national team will be reduced by as many as 10 for this year’s event in Poznan, Poland, from Aug. 19 to 22.

It’s more expensive to send athletes overseas, so the high-performance staff — which begins its selection process on Saturday with the first set of trials in Montreal — focuses on athletes who excel in Olympic disciplines.

“Because (worlds) was in Canada (last year), we decided to enter every single event,” said high-performance director Graham Barton. “When it’s Europe, we focus on the process based on performance. We’re looking at athletes who are performing well in Olympic events.”

This weekend’s trials will play a big part in determining who competes at two World Cup events in Europe over the next month.

Those, in turn, play a role in determining who goes to worlds.

Andrew Russell of Dartmouth is one of Nova Scotia’s best bets for success along with his C-2 partner Gabriel Beauchesne-Sevigny of Trois-Rivières, Que. They’ll look to fend off another C-2 boat featuring Andrew’s younger brother, Ben, and Halifax’s Richard Dalton.

“Training in Florida (in the pre-season) indicated that Ben and Richard have shown potential to challenge them,” Barton said. “I guess we’ll find out this weekend.”

Lake Echo native Genevieve Orton, who won bronze in the K-1 4x200 relay at last year’s worlds, will look to build on that success this year. Middle Sackville’s Jillian D’Alessio is also in the mix in women’s kayak.

Three-time Olympic kayaker Karen Furneaux, meanwhile, has moved to New York for family reasons and will sit out this weekend’s trials.

Although that hurts her chances of competing at worlds, she is expected to participate in the second set of trials in July.

“It doesn’t make it as easy for her,” Barton said. “If (in July) some of the younger athletes have come up and demonstrated (they are capable of achieving) world-class results, it’s going to make it tough.”

 
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