Mexico has hosted its first national canoe slalom and kayak cross event on an artificial river that it is hoped will be able to host more events in the future.

Mexico joins a select group of countries on the American continent that now has an artificial structure which can be used for canoe slalom and kayak cross events. The new venue is thanks to a partnership with the Xavage Park in the tourist city of Cancun.

The venue hosted this month’s  Mexican canoe slalom and kayak cross national championships. This was the first time that a competition was held on a fully artificial river.

The Mexican Canoeing Federation had an approach to the Xavage Park in 2022, involving the President of the Slalom Canoeing Commission, Adriana Valderrama, with the support of Martha Hernandez, president of the Mexican Canoeing Federation (FMC) and continental representative of North America to the International Canoeing Federation (ICF). Actions were followed up with several visits to the park in order to organise a first national event and to test the track.

According to the Park's Director of Operations, Marco Hernandez, the partnership has worked out well and stressed that Grupo Xcaret is more than ready to continue hosting this type of event.

"We are very happy to have for the first time a sporting event of national stature here at Parque Xavage with our category 3 artificial river, the best in Latin America,” he said.

“Everything went very well because in addition to having the competition, we continue with the daily attractions without interrupting the stay of the visitors, and we hope that this is the beginning of a positive alliance for the benefit of sportsmen and women."

In total, 25 athletes from three associations - Veracruz, Quintana Roo and Yucatan - participated in the event that also served as selection for international events, including the Pan American Games in Santiago 2023, in view of the Olympic Games in Paris 2024.

For athlete Santiago Morfin, the experience of the championships in the Xavage Park was unique.

"It was a very good experience, because an artificial river behaves very differently from a natural river, which made it very interesting and helped me to improve my rhythm a lot,” she said.

“These new challenges make us more excited to train more every day."

The Mexican structure was inaugurated in 2019, has 1,000 meters, of which 600 are rapids, reaching an average speed of 8.9m³/s. It was built for commercial rafting, but also meets all the requirements and standards for slalom, kayak cross and freestyle competitions. It adds to the select group of countries that have an artificial channel in the continent, such as the United States and Brazil.

Pic by Mario Agustin Rivera

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