Canoe slalom: Tacen to host the 2024 European Championships nine months after devastation. ECA

Last August, the Slovenian canoeing community saw its most famous kayak centre, Tacen, washed away by the devastating floods that hit Slovenia. Now, just nine months later, the venue awaits the 2024 ICF I Feel Slovenia Canoe Slalom European Championships from 15-19 May.

A new gate system, a new metal bridge, a new large LED screen, redesigned grandstands and temporary containers are some of the things visitors to the Tacen Kayak Centre will see at first glance. The venue is taking its final shape in preparation for the 2024 European Canoe Association (ECA) I Feel Slovenia Canoe Slalom European Championships in Ljubljana - Tacen, but nine months ago it looked very different. 

"Last year, after the World Cup, where we got a bit of media attention saying that nothing had changed in Tacen for 30 years, we planned to renovate the upper part of the competition course. We were supposed to start in September, but everything went down the drain in August, because practically everything we had already prepared was washed away," said Jakob Marusic, General Secretary of the Organising Committee. 

"It would be easier to list what was left than what was destroyed and flushed away. So, unfortunately, we had to give up the renovation of the upper part of the course in order to renovate the area around the course so that it would be possible to host the Championships," he added.

Jakob Marusic is the General Secretary of the Organising Committee. ECA
Jakob Marusic is the General Secretary of the Organising Committee. ECA

During the floods, one of the track's landmarks, a small greenhouse at the top of the grandstand, collapsed and everything was swept away by the Sava River. The electrical and optical cables were destroyed, the hole was several metres deep, the containers with the lost forever equipment were damaged. The wooden bridge and the big LED screen were washed away. All proceeds from ticket sales will go towards rebuilding the damaged venue. 

"The clean-up started the very next day and we did it according to our financial possibilities. The Sports Foundation helped us so much that we used the funds earmarked for something else to rebuild the track. We started with the containers that house the timekeepers, judges and other services, completely renovating the floor, walls and wiring. In February, we started the main construction work, renovating the stands and rebuilding the lower part of the track," said Marusic. 

"Due to a lack of time, we couldn't rebuild the stands with stacked stone as we had done before, so we covered them with concrete instead. However, we expect the concrete to be grey to match the colour of the original stands. Our plan to turn the first 50 metres of the competition course into a series of small waterfalls, along the lines of modern canoe courses, also fell through," he continued.

The massive floods destroyed the competition course less than a year ago. ECA
The massive floods destroyed the competition course less than a year ago. ECA

The cost of the renovation was enormous. "We knew immediately that the damage would run into millions. So far we have spent around €350,000, but I must say that a number of companies have helped us a lot. Some of them gave us big discounts, others did projects for us for free, if we had paid them all, the amount would have been at least twice as much by now," stressed the General Secretary of the Organising Committee

"The work is not finished yet. We are waiting for help from the government, and we have asked the banks for guarantees so that we can at least take out a loan, but we haven't even talked about the amounts. Ljubljana is a bit more receptive. If we end up having to pay for everything from our budget, it would mean that we would have to cut into the funds for the competitions, which would not be fair to them," Marusic concluded.