28 November 2021

London 2012: Bluffer’s guide to slalom canoeing

July 19, 2012
London 2012: Bluffer's guide to slalom canoeing

Canoe Slalom takes place on a fast-moving white water course.

London 2012: Bluffer's guide to slalom canoeing

Photo credit: Balint Vekassy

It made its debut at the Munich 1972 Olympic Games but didn’t become a permanent part of the Olympic programme until Barcelona 1992.

In Canoe Slalom there are events for both canoes and kayaks (see below) and the boats are short, light and agile with good stability, which allows for greater manoeuvrability through the rapids. This is a dynamic, fast moving sport that requires both skill and strength to excel in.

Venue: Lee Valley White Water Centre

Date:  July 29-August 2

Jargon buster

Kayak: This is the type of boat used by competitors who sit down in their boat and use a double ended paddle.

K1: This refers to the class/type of boat, K1 means a kayak for 1 person

Canoe: This is the type of boat used by competitors who kneel in their boat and use a single ended paddle.

C1 and C2: This refers to the class/type of boat, C1 means Canoe for 1 person, C2 for two people.

Paddle: Canoeists use a double or single ended paddle (sometimes referred to as a blade) Often this is mistakenly called an oar by the uninitiated.

Paddler: The common term for a canoeist or kayaker.

Spraydeck: A waterproof fabric cover that prevents water entering cockpit, it is worn around the waist of the competitor and then stretched taught around the cockpit when they are sat in the boat.

PFD: A paddler’s buoyancy aid (lifejacket); short for personal flotation device.

Eddy: An eddy is a water formation where the water is pushed round to flow back upstream in a circular movement.

Drop: A waterfall creating fast current and tough eddies.

Hole (stopper): Similar to an eddy, often found at the base of a fall where the water is forced to reverse its flow. The term stopper refers to the fact that it can literally stop your boat from progressing downstream.

Basic rules

The competitors must negotiate a set route of up to 25 gates, red gates must be negotiated upstream, while green gates must be negotiated downstream.

The event is run as a time trial and penalties for hitting (two seconds) or missing a gate (five seconds) are added to the final time. There are generally two timed runs.

One to watch

Lizzie Neave has secured the only women’s spot available on the team, she has great experience having picked up a bronze medal at the World Championships in 2009, as well as a bronze at the European Championships in 2011.

Elena Kalisha (Slovakia) has won gold at the last two Olympics and is hot favourite again.

Who to follow on twitter…




Slalom Canoe fact

Women still only compete in kayak events despite lobbying over the years to get the International Canoe Federation to change its rules and let them race in canoe events.

The Women’s Sports Magazine

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