2012 London Olympics: Canoe Slalom

The Summer Olympics as a whole is a very interesting concept. It brings the world together for 16 days every four years, with people from different cultures, speaking different languages all tuning in to witness the same event. Though they’re cheering for different countries and sports, it’s still a shared experience that everyone in the world can relate to. I have memories of watching the Olympics as a kid with my dad and even though I can’t tell you who won what, I treasure the memory of sitting there with him on the couch, cheering at the TV. Even if you’re not a sports-lover, you can’t help but get excited by the Olympics. We here at Folbot are extremely excited, especially for two events: the Canoe Slalom and the Canoe Sprint.

Photo Provided by surreynews via Flickr

At Folbot, we make awesome flatwater kayaks, which are great for lots of different types of outings. One thing they would not be great for, however, is competing in the Olympics (especially the whitewater slalom event). But just because we’re not going to see our boats competing, doesn’t mean we’re not still super pumped to watch the competition itself. Some people train their entire lives to be in the Olympics. That requires a level of dedication and commitment the likes of which I’ve never really known, but which I can admire and respect wholeheartedly. There are so many emotions, so much beauty, athleticism, passion, dedication, and sacrifice; it’s hard not to be compelled and moved when watching these athletes’ dreams come true (or not).

The Canoe Slalom, which begins July 29th with the men’s canoe single heats, and ends August 2nd with the women’s kayak finals, is celebrating its 20th year of Olympic inclusion at this year’s games, marking its official debut at the 1992 Barcelona Summer games. There are 61 men and 21 women competing in the slalom portion, each hoping to bring home the gold for their respective countries. We happen to be rooting for Team USA, Caroline Queen and Scott Parsons, but we’re excited to see how each country performs.

Photo provided by MichaelKuhn_pics via Flickr

The competition consists of “timed runs down a white water course with up to 25 gates. Red gates must be negotiated upstream, while green gates must be negotiated downstream.” There are separate events for both canoes and kayaks. In canoe events, athletes kneel in the boat and use single-bladed paddles; in the kayak event, athletes sit in the boat and use double-bladed paddles. The boats in the slalom differ from the boats used in the sprint, as they are smaller, lighter, and more agile to allow for more stability and great maneuverability through the rapids. Touching a gate ads a two-second time penalty to the run, while missing a gate entirely results in a 50-second penalty. Overall score is the time taken to run the course (in seconds) added to any penalties.

In the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Slovakia received 3 gold medals, Germany received 1 gold medal, and Australia received 1 silver and 1 bronze medal. The US didn’t place at all. But this could be our year!

So who’s tuning in for the races? What country are you rooting for? No matter the country, the Slalom is bound to be an exciting race!