The sprint events for canoeists are also called ‘flat water canoeing’. They differ from the more daunting slalom events which require maneuvering through gates on fast moving ‘white water’. The canoes for each event are also different; the sprint canoe is an open boat – a ‘Canadian Canoe’, whereas the slalom canoe is ‘decked’ with a partial front covering. There are no rudders under the hull of a canoe. Hence, the canoeist is responsible for steering the craft with the single blade paddle. The paddler provides stability and power.
Hidden from view, what role do feet play?
Slalom: “Balance the Knees; Balance the Boat”
In slalom canoes, canoeists must kneel on both knees while they paddle. No sitting. In this upright position, they have a higher centre of gravity and get a better reading of the river.
On the forward stroke, the canoeist ‘gets a grip on the water’ pulling his body up to it. As the blade goes in the water, the canoeist’s knees lightly bear his evenly distributed body weight. He pushes from his hips. His pelvis tilts backward with pressure on the buttocks. He pushes forward from the iliac bones (“sit bones”). His final push with his knees finishes with a straight upper arm. These coordinated moves keep the boat running as straight as possible.
Sprint: “Triangle Position for Stability”
In sprint events, the canoeist kneels on one knee and maintains a ‘high posture’. Her other foot is out in front for balance. The ‘triangle’ or three points of contact is formed by her knee, back foot and front foot. The wider her triangle is, the more stability she has.
In the paddling motion, she transfers weight through the kneeling knee. Her front foot helps counteract movement and helps steer the canoe. Changing the pressure of her front foot helps tilt the canoe and assist with steering. Her back foot stabilizes the transmission of power through her shoulders, back and arms. Her paddle enters the water in line with her front foot, is buried to give her stroke full power and exits near her hip. Over-reaching her toes would slow the canoe.
Thanks also to the Ontario Whitewater Association, Port Perry ON
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:25 (NIV)
TRAINING – COMPETITION – PODIUM