Slalom Cross is new this season so we've put together a little explainer so you know exactly what to expect from the exciting new event.

ICF Canoe Slalom Cross (CSLX)

Athletes are ranked by time trials and then compete in heats of 4 competitors who will battle it out through the rapids and the gates to advance to the next round. The top two will move on until only four are left to compete in the final.

Slalom Cross racing generally accommodates 32 kayakers but it could also be done with only 24, 16 or 8.

Ranking the Athletes is necessary in order to create the heats in a fair way. The ranking is done with a simple Time Trial. The time trial may be held on a different (for example longer) course than the slalom cross. Whilst not preferable, it may be held with no gates.

Maximum of 32 K1M paddlers and 16 K1W will then qualify for the slalom cross and they will have a ranking from 1st qualified to 32nd. Then the heats can be organised following the format below. For the next phase everything is simple, you take the first two finishers from the first and second heat to create a new heat, and so on.

The Start

The four boats start at the same time. The start is very important and has to be as fair as possible. All positions should be ideally equivalent. The competitor with the best ranking position in time trial can choose his place in the start and so on until all positions have been decided. This system makes the time trial very important since the rank from this trial allows you to pick the better start position.

Athletes will be supplied with a coloured bib on the start ramp. This colour will relate to their time in time trial – red = the fastest then green, blue and yellow.

The start could be from a ramp or from a zone with quiet water where the paddlers could wait for the start signal. Where the ramp is equipped with an automatic starting mechanism the competitor will start with both hands on the paddle. Where there is no start mechanism then the competitor may start with one hand on the ramp and one hand on the paddle in a vertical position.

When all kayakers are ready, the start judge will say: “READY” and then the acoustic signal is suddenly given during the next 10 seconds to avoid false starts. Any competitor who starts before the signal will be disqualified. In the case of a false start the race will be restarted.

The Course

The best courses are about 45 to 60 seconds long. The course must consist of a maximum of 6 downstream gates and 2 upstream gates. The downstream gate is marked with single green inflatable buoy, the upstream gates are red. The upstream gates must be symmetrically set allowing the athlete to choose either up right or left.

The course must contain a kayak roll zone  is marked with two lines of flags above the water, the competitor must roll between these two lines.

The roll zone and all gates are judged. The whole head of the competitor and part of the boat at the same instant must cross the gate line in accordance with the correct side of the gate to be considered as correctly negotiated. Incorrect negotiation will lead to disqualification. At every gate, and at the kayak roll zone, the judge will display a disc for an incorrect negotiation of a competitor. This disc will be the colour of the disqualified competitor.


Actions which lead to disqualification of competitor for the phase include:

  •  Non negotiated gate in time trial or any phase of the competition,
  • kayak roll not executed within the zone or full kayak roll not completed,
  • capsize before the finish line or crossing the finish line upside down,
  • not following safety measures.

Safety measures

Slalom Cross is not a battle but it is all about going fast and finding the faster lines.

For safety reasons it is important to follow some safety measures:

  • Hands must remain on the paddle at all times.
  • The paddle is not permitted to have any sharp edges on the paddle blade.
  • Competitors are not permitted to push or hold back other competitors or kayaks with their hands or paddles.
  • Kayak to kayak contact is allowed and it is possible to use boat to push someone offline.
  • Competitors are not permitted to ram their boats into another competitor’s body, or to deliberately reach across another competitor’s body with their paddle and to deliberately hit or displace gates.
  • Competitor’s buoyancy jacket and helmet must comply with canoe slalom rules and only commercially available, current model creeker whitewater boats are permitted. Competitors may use their own boat or one provided by the organiser.


Only kayak men (K1M) and kayak women (K1W) will be contested.

Federation is entitled to enter two (2) boats in each category in the time trial. The fastest boat from each Federation will progress to the heats phase of the CSLX competition.

If there are fewer Federations than the places in the Heats round 1 then the places will be filled by the Federations whose second boats was the fastest in the time trial until all places are filled. Wild card entries may be invited by the Organiser.


Competitors will progress as per the progression bracket. Competitors eliminated at any phase of the competition will be given their rank based on the comparison of the time trial times of competitors eliminated at the same phase.

All 3rd ranked competitors will be ranked above all 4th ranked competitors.

Photo finish will be used to resolve a tie. If this does not resolve the tie or in the case of non-completion of a phase then the time trial time will be used to rank the competitors.

Canoe Slalom