Canoe Slalom guide

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If you are keen to understand more about canoe slalom, here we lay out what it is, the rules and what to look out for.

What is Canoe Slalom?

Canoe Slalom is a competitive whitewater sport where athletes navigate through a series of gates on a challenging river course. The difference between a kayak and canoe is straightforward, it comes down to the number of blades on the paddle and athlete’s position in the boat.

Introduced to the Olympics in 1972, women participate in three Canoe Slalom events: 

  • WC1: Canoe Single, single-bladed paddle, kneeling 
  • WK1: Kayak Single, double-bladed paddle, seated
  • WX1: Kayak Cross, new this year, double-bladed paddle, seated

Jessica Fox will represent Australia at the Games this year in all three events.

Kayak Cross is a new event this year that features four athletes racing simultaneously and includes a mandatory kayak roll. Athletes enter the water down a ramp 2 metres above the water. 

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What to look for in Canoe Slalom events

Precision: Every move and moment counts. Microseconds of time and millimetres of movements can mean the difference between a perfect run or penalty.

Adaptability: Athletes face constantly changing whitewater conditions. Every course is different with countless new variables evolving throughout the race to negotiate.

Speed: It’s a race after all – making fast, confident judgment calls cognisant of risk is a testament to mastering the sport.

Perseverance: Recovering from set-backs – whether touching or missing a gate – to get back on track and reasserting momentum.

Jessica Fox
Jessica Fox
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