Tag Archives: Kananaskis

Whitehorse Daily Star: Yukoners improve at canoe slalom national team trials

FOCUSED – Hunter Vincent eyes the next gate during a kayak run at the national canoe slalom team trials on the Kananaskis River in Alberta last weekend. He was the first cadet in kayak over the weekend and finished second in canoe. Photo by KELLY VANDERBEEK

Yukoners improve at canoe slalom national team trials

At his first Canadian canoe slalom national team trials, Hunter Vincent improved by leaps and bounds.

By Marissa Tiel on May 15, 2017

At his first Canadian canoe slalom national team trials, Hunter Vincent improved by leaps and bounds.

“Hunter’s progression through the weekend was awesome,” said mom, Lee Vincent, from Idaho this morning.

Vincent, who at 13 is too young to qualify for the national junior team, used the weekend as race experience, rubbing shoulders with the likes of five-time Olympian David Ford.

The trials this year were held in Alberta on a lower section of the Kananaskis River slalom course, which was last used for a national competition in 2009 and last hosted team trials in the late 90s.

The course has changed a lot since both of the those competitions, even more so with the Alberta floods in 2013 and further man-made developments to the river in the years after.

“It was easier back then,” said Alberta high performance coach Michael Holroyd.

The weekend’s events were joint trials for the senior, U23 and junior national teams.

“We set fairly hard courses with tight offsets,” said Holroyd.

In slalom, paddlers navigate through poles suspended over rapids. They must complete the course in the correct order, going through both upstream and downstream gates without touching them. The paddler with the fastest time including penalties – two seconds for touching a gate and 50 seconds for missing a gate – is the winner.

The offsets are how much the gates are set apart from each other in the current.

There was a high number of missed gates over the weekend, due in part to the high-stakes competition, but also to wind gusts.

Vincent, racing in two classes – C1 and K1 – progressed over the weekend. He went from missing a number of gates during his kayak runs on day one, to touching only two gates on his final run on day two.

“I was able to get pretty much every single gate almost clean,” he said.

“It all lined up that day… it felt easy.”

Vincent has competed at nationals before and won medals. Over the winter he worked with Physio Plus to strengthen his muscles and attended slalom sessions in the pool.

Now, he and his family are travelling the states for the summer, stopping to paddle, bike and adventure.

Their next destination: a whitewater park in Idaho. Vincent’s next time in a slalom boat will be at the national championships in Ottawa this summer.

“I want to keep improving my skill in both (classes),” he said.

Joining Vincent at team trials was 15-year-old Mael Pronovost, who had also been training in the pool over the winter.

Pronovost, at his second team trials, improved to eighth overall in the junior division.

“I was really happy with some of my runs,” he said from Calgary this morning.

“Mael has been training hard,” said Holroyd. He has attended camps with the Alberta team in Oklahoma and B.C. this winter and was working to develop consistency over his racing.

Holroyd said coaches from across the country were impressed with his progression.

In the best three-of-four runs race format, Pronovost’s 7th, 14th, 6th and 8th put him in 8th place overall.

On his third run of the weekend, he even had a top 10 finish among the senior and U23 divisions.

Pronovost was also the only junior to race C1 and K1 and was only a couple seconds away from qualifying for the junior team in C1.

“He did well in C1 for how little he paddled,” said Holroyd. Pronovost had only paddled C1 in the pool over the winter and during one or two days of training in Alberta.

“C1 teaches a lot of boat control,” said Holroyd. “At his stage, where he’s learning to race, it’s beneficial to have more starts.”

Looking forward to a summer of training, Pronovost is anxious to get the training gates set up on the Yukon River at the Intake this week.

He said he’s been invited to do some trips with the Quebec team and also plans to do some training at the Chilliwack Centre of Excellence in B.C.

His next major race will be the national championships in Ottawa.

“I’m really happy,” said Pronovost. “I did a lot better than I expected.”

Like coming home again… back in Kananaskis

view up the kanOur last stop before heading north has been a week in Alberta on the Kananaskis River. We spent close to a month on this river over July and August last year culminating in the Alberta Provincials in September. By the end of the summer it felt like our “home river”, where you know it really well and are able to see progression with every run.

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We picked up 3 new play boats in Calgary (Jackson rock star’s all round) and were excited to test out the boats on a river we were comfortable with. We acted as the Canoe Meadows temporary camp hosts and traded labour for river access, which worked out well for everyone.

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Hunter was able to get some time on the river in his slalom boat with coaching, which was great to get the season kick-started.

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We were excited to test out the spin ability of the Rock Stars and were all thrilled! Lots of fun at both Thunder Bunny and Chubby’s.

A quick stop at Santa Claus on our way to Hunter’s favourite play spot…

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Surfer’s Wave was a super fun play spot, with us spending 20-30 minutes there each run.

The other big highlight was Tim nailing his loop pretty consistently at Chubby’s, even getting multiple loops on a wave ride.kananaskis walk
It’s been a pretty great week with amazing summer like weather (thank you mother nature!) and we are sad to be leaving… while also looking forward to our next visit.

A week in Kananaskis stretching ourselves

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We spent a week in early July camped at Canoe Meadows on the Kananaskis River, located between Calgary and Canmore. We caught a well needed rest in Calgary for a few days ahead of time and caught up with family and friends (plus showers, laundry and internet…).

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Hunter participated in his first weeklong kayak camp through Alberta Whitewater & Waterwerks learning how to paddle a slalom boat and continuing to progress his play boating, while also getting to hang out with a fun group of kids.

Tim and I were left to our own devices for the week (sort of – we were camped about 100 yards from all the kids so could only get so silly) and ended up paddling twice a day for five days… how do you say no when the river is right next to you and the shuttle is only a 2km walk along a nicely wooded path??? We were definitely spoiled!

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The Kananaskis River is damn controlled and you are at the mercy of the hydro company, who posts a weekly river schedule on Sunday or Monday. It truly is “empty” when the damn is closed. This is the big play boating wave called “Santa Claus” without the water flowing…

And this is Santa Claus with the river turned on!!!

In addition to play boating, river running and slalom sessions the kids also spent a half-day on river rescue skills, which ended with them swimming down the top half of the race course in their dry suits.

Overall it was a fabulous week for all of us…

  • Hunter experienced slalom boating and learned he was a natural at it. Got jazzed to participate at Nationals and met a great group of paddling kids!
  • Lee continued to push comfort zones and spent a lot of time play boating and finally got a SPIN down
  • Tim earned the chocolate bar from Coach Paul for being the only one to do 4 spins in a row on Chubbies – although he is still waiting for deliver 🙂
  • We got caught up with old friends from a lifetime ago – lots of serendipity going around…

Big thanks to all the coaches that made it so fun for the kids, while also challenging them to learn and grow. We are all looking forward to heading back to Kananaskis in August for more fun paddling and the Provincials.