Durango canoer Zachary Lokken did enough to advance past the first day of qualifying in the canoe slalom at the Pan-American Games in Lima, Peru, after two steady runs Saturday.
Lokken, 25, who is a 2020 Olympic Games hopeful, got off to a fast start, when he finished in third and advanced to the semifinals.
Lokken’s first run was steady, when he finished 1 minute, 29.82 seconds, which was 3.47 seconds behind Argentina’s Sebastian Rossi, who finished his first run in 1:26.35, and Brazil’s Felipe Borges was second in 1:28.94, which was 2.59 seconds behind Rossi. Lokken had a two-second penalty on the final gate of the heat.
In the second run held an hour and a half later, Lokken made up for his penalty and picked up two seconds on his time and finished in 1:27.23. Borges won the second heat in 1:24.79, while Rossi was 1.11 seconds behind and took second with a run of 1:25.90.
“Yeah, the course is pretty straight forward, so it’s really tight racing,” Lokken said via text message. “So any small mistakes is costly. I had decent runs today, but a touch put me in (third-place), which safely qualified me into (the) semi-finals.”
Lokken, ranked No. 49 in the world, according to the latest International Canoe Federation’s rankings released July 3, is the second-highest ranked American in the world behind Casey Eichfeld, who sits at No. 18.
Lokken’s Pan-Am run comes after a string of strong finishes at the ICF World Cup, when he finished in 18th in Bratislava, Slovakia, and was 20th the next week in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
He is the lone American in the race, which consists of seven other canoers, and is competing against good competition. Lokken and two others, Rossi and Borges, are in the top-100 canoers in the world.
Sunday’s semifinal race is set to begin at 8:30 a.m., with the final to be held at 10:15.
“(I’m) excited to see what I can do tomorrow,” Lokken said.