Rio 2016 Canoe Slalom Spectator Guide
It’s no secret that Canoe Slalom is often one of the most dramatic, action-packed, and exciting sports in the Olympic Games. But we know that sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what’s going on behind all of those big splashes, especially if you’re new to the world of canoe. So sit back, relax, and enjoy our short guide to Canoe Slalom in Rio, to make sure that you’ll be the most knowledgeable spectator - whether you’re watching the action from your sofa or from the stands.
What is Canoe Slalom?
Before getting into the Rio-specific stuff, here’s a quick summary of what canoe slalom actually is. In this sport, competitors take two timed runs in the heats down a whitewater course that is a maximum of 300m long, and whichever run was the fastest counts. Then, in the semifinal and final, the pressure cranks up with just a single opportunity to lay down their best time!
As if that didn’t sound tiring enough, they also have to go through a maximum of 25 coloured gates as they go. Don’t get worried if you’re having trouble spotting the gates, though – they actually look more like two poles hanging above the course. The colour of them is important, too. Green ones mean that they must be passed through while going downstream, and red ones have to be passed through upstream, against the current. That’s why the red ones are much harder, and there are a minimum of 6 of them on the courses!
There are also time penalties aplenty for not passing through the gates correctly – 2 seconds for touching the gate with their body, boat, or paddle, and 50 seconds for either not passing through a gate completely, or missing it altogether. Those penalties can make a big difference when, like we said, time is what counts.
In canoe slalom, there are two types of boat, canoe and kayak. In kayak, athletes use a double-bladed paddle in a seated position, whereas in canoe, they use a single-blade paddle in a boat where their legs are bent and tucked under their body.
All About Rio 2016
Now that we’ve filled you in on the basics, here’s what you need to know this summer. The Rio 2016 Canoe Slalom events will be held between August 7th and 11th in the Whitewater Stadium in Deodoro. The stadium is one of the most technically complex ones they have, with two different courses available - a 200m training course, and a 250m course for the competitions. To give you an idea of the size of the stadium, how’s this for a fun fact – it holds 25 million liters of water!
3 Things to Know If You’re Going to Rio
- For those of you planning to attend the competitions in person, please be aware that parking is not available, so you’ll need to use public transport.
- A RioCard will be useful to anyone attending the games, so be sure to get yours so you don’t miss out on any of the exciting competitions!
- The stadium opens 120 minutes (2 hours) before the start time written on the ticket.
There are 4 events, or ‘classes’. Men’s Canoe Single (C1M), Men’s Canoe Double (C2M), Men’s Kayak (K1M), and Women’s Kayak (K1W). Whoever wins is going to be a champion for the first time, since previous winners did not qualify to participate this year.
Canoe Slalom Lingo
To finish off, here are a few words and abbreviations used by those who really know the sport. If you want to sound like you know all there is to know about canoe, maybe try using a few! Just be careful when using them, you don’t want to “capsize” during the conversation!
- Two: A quick way to refer to those 2 second penalties we mentioned earlier.
- PFD: Personal Flotation Device – all athletes are required to wear one.
- Capsize: Whenever the boat loses to the water and gets overturned. Competitors really don’t want this to happen to them, ever.
- Eddy: The water in an eddy flows in the opposite direction to the other parts of the river, and is usually formed due to a rock, obstruction, or bend in a river. Sometimes these are considered dangerous, but sometimes they’re used as rest stops.
- Spraydeck: The cover attached to the canoeist and the canoe itself that stops water from getting into the cockpit of the canoe.