BLOOMINGTON, MD., JULY 8 -- The other World Cup -- the one on rumbling whitewater instead of grass -- concluded here today with a show of force by Czechoslovakia and a near miss for the U.S. team.
Czechoslovak Lubos Hilgert beat out 41 rivals from 16 nations for the gold medal in men's kayak before a crowd of about 3,000, while teammates Jiri Rohan and Miroslav Simek topped 14 other teams to take gold in two-man canoe.
The nearest the U.S. team came to a top-three finish on this final day of World Cup canoe-kayak competition on the Savage River was a fourth place for the canoe team of Jamie McEwan and Lecky Haller of Falls Village, Conn.
It was a downturn for U.S. fortunes after Americans took three of the six medals in Saturday's opening-day competition, including world champion Jon Lugbill's gold in men's solo canoe.
Hilgert, whose wife, Stepanka, was seventh in Saturday's women's kayak event, barely nosed out Italian Pierpaolo Ferrazzi by 11/100ths of a second over the 600-yard course through 25 slalom gates.
Third place went to world champion Richard Fox, the picture-perfect Briton who has dominated men's kayaking for a decade, but who fell apart with an uncharacteristically bad second run today in which he hit four gates, taking 20 seconds in penalties.
Haller and McEwan, the U.S. men's team, thought they had a medal run on their second trip down the turbulent course, but were assessed five-second penalties for hitting two gates they said they never knew they hit.
"Should we protest?" asked Mc-Ewan. But partner Haller, to whom the question was addressed, was already sprinting for a ride to Pittsburgh, where he and handful of other U.S. paddlers were to catch an 8 p.m. flight to Minneapolis for the U.S. Olympic Festival.
Whitewater slalom paddling will be in the Olympics for the first time in 20 years at the Barcelona Games in 1992, which is one reason the World Cup, which now moves to Europe for three races in August, is drawing more attention.Results
Men's kayak -- 1, Lubos Hilgert, Czechoslovakia, 180.52 seconds; 2, Pierpaolo Ferrazzi, Italy, 180.63; 3, Richard Fox, Great Britain, 180.63 (placed third because of slower second-run time than Ferrazzi's).
Two-man canoe -- 1, Jiri Rohan-Miroslav Simek, Czechoslovakia, 203.31; 2, Emmanuel Delrey-Thierry Saidi, France, 205.83; 3, Wilfred Forgues-Frank Adisson, France, 208.36.