ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ Former Olympic champion canoe racer Joe Jacobi and partner Matt Taylor easily clinched a se

mifinal berth Thursday in the whitewater slalom event. Single American kayakers Brett Heyl and Scott Parsons also advanced to Friday, when semifinals and finals will be held.

Heyl, of Norwich, Vt., was fifth after both preliminary runs and Parsons, of Sylvania, Ohio, was 14th after a rough second run in which he took a 2-second penalty for touching a gate. Where they finished in the standings don't matter in the semis as all 20 competitors start with a clean slate.

Michael Kurt of Switzerland had the best combined time in the single kayak preliminary at 186.79 seconds. Heyl was 5.5 seconds behind.

Jacobi and Taylor got off to a shaky start in their first preliminary run, taking a pair of 2-second penalties. They were ninth in the stands, leaving them in danger of missing the 10-boat cut.

They had only one penalty on their next try and carried better speed through most of the 20-gate course to handily keep alive their medal hopes.

Brothers Pavel and Peter Hochschorner of Slovakia, who won gold in Sydney and have dominated World Cup pairs canoe since, turned in the top combined time of 201.04. Jacobi and Taylor were 22.39 seconds behind.

Jacobi, of Ducktown, Tenn., won gold in the canoe pairs slalom at the 1992 Barcelona Games but hasn't been in an Olympics since.

Taylor, of Atlanta, raced the same event in Sydney but did not emerge from the preliminaries.