Top ten canoe slalom facts. Two slalom athletes in white water.

Top ten canoe slalom facts to impress your friends

We understand that learning about canoe slalom for the first time can be a challenge. So, we have compiled our top ten facts to help you along.

By the time of the 2019 World Slalom World Cup we’ll have you talking about canoe slalom at Lee Valley like a die-hard fan.

About canoe slalom – top ten facts

  1. Canoe slalom originated in Switzerland in 1933. It was a summer alternative to slalom skiing, and racers competed on a flatwater course.
  2. Slalom comprises two types of boat: canoe (C) and kayak (K). In canoe, athletes use a single-blade paddle. They are strapped into the boat with their legs bent at the knees and tucked under their body. This is in contrast to the double-bladed paddle used in a seated position in kayak.
  3. Slalom made its Olympic debut as an introduction sport at the 1972 Games in Munich. It was a further 20 years before canoe slalom returned to the Olympic Games. But by this time it had become a core sport.
  4. Slalom is a timed event where competitors navigate a white water course by passing through a combination of upstream and downstream gates. Colour designates the type of gate. Red is for upstream and green for downstream.
  5. Slalom courses are designed so the leading athletes will complete them in a time of between 90 and 110 seconds.
  6. Each course is different but can be a maximum of 300 metres in length and contain a maximum of 25 gates, with a minimum of six upstream gates.
  7. Course designers set the gate patterns with the aim of utilising the water features – eddies, waves and stoppers – to create a competitive course. No two courses are the same.
  8. Athletes can incur time penalties with two-seconds added for a gate touch and 50-seconds for missing a gate.
  9. International competitions have a qualification round followed by a semi final and final with only 10 athletes in the final.
  10. The Olympic programme for the Tokyo 2020 Games will consist of four classes K1 men, K1 women, C1 men, and C1 Women.