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Saturday, February 26, 2000 -- Parkersburg, WV
Kayak Pool Slalom Competition
Story & photos by Julie Bertsch

[Coverage] [Results] Pics: [Set 1] [Set 2]

Click here to visit USA Canoe/Kayak Site
USA Canoe & Kayak
The history of the canoe/kayak whitewater slalom competition in the Olympics over the years has been interesting to say the least. In 1972, Germany spent a US $4 million to build their slalom course, and they won all four of the events. Unfortunately, many anxious spectators did not see that kind of event in the Olympics again, until 20 years later in 1992. This summer, the 2000 Olympics will be held in Sydney, Australia. This year, the return of the Olympics also means the return of the canoe/kayak slalom competition. There is a new man-made course, and some bright, new competition.

Dan Fowler
K1 Men's Senior Champion
Dan Fowler
"A key name to watch is Slovakia's, Michal Martikan. Martikan was 16 years old when he won the bronze medal in the C1 slalom at the 1995 World Championships. He followed with Olympic gold at Atlanta in 1996, then at the World Championships in 1997, and he remains a top contender." says the official web site of the Olympics, Sydney 2000.

So, how do these young athletes get to compete in such a unique Olympic sport? It's not easy to find the top slalom athletes, and many of them have yet to be discovered. This is what the National Pool Slalom is all about. On Saturday, February 26th, Adventure Pursuit held the only event of this kind in West Virginia at the Parkersburg YMCA pool.

Katherine Clancy
K1 Women's Cadet Champion
Katherine Clancy
The day was an unseasonably warm 77 degrees, and as Kim Clancy of Adventure Pursuit put it, "It's a nice day out. I bet a lot of boaters are out on the river!" Still, Parkersburg wasn't the only place in the country hosting the event. The USA Canoe/Kayak Team tells organizations how to set up, and they tally the results nationally. The purpose of this event is to expose paddlers of all skill levels to a fun slalom race in the pool of their choice. A pool slalom is also a great way to gauge the progress of developing slalom athletes over the course of several years.

Dan Brooks
K1 Men's Junior Champion
Dan Brooks
Although the sport of slalom kayaking competition is still growing in West Virginia, national events are held all over the country. Slalom is often tied in with downriver and rodeo events. The possibilities for young paddlers are endless, but you're never too old to get involved either. Many of America's top paddlers are over the age of 25 and still competing today.

Not everyone who competes in the pool slalom event has hopes of becoming an Olympic champion, some just do it to have some paddling fun.

Refer to the Slalom Course Rules to get a better understanding of the course. Special thanks goes out to Adventure Pursuit for putting on this event that's sure to keep growing every year.