Saturday, June 25, 2011

Canoe Slalom - History

Canoe Slalom on whitewater started on 11 September 1932 in Switzerland. The sport’s inventor proclaimed “Slalom is a whitewater test” and his idea came from skiing, where the key terms change from “winter, snow and Ski Slalom” to “summer, water and Canoe Slalom.”Unfortunately World War Two began just six years after the first Canoe Slalom competition was held in Switzerland and the development of the sport was set back, especially from an Olympic point of view. Once the war was over, the first Canoe Slalom World Championships under the patronage of the ICF were organised in 1949 in Geneva, Switzerland.The first period (1949-1972) is characterised by dramatic changes. Folding and rigid canvas canoes were replaced with fibreglass reinforced plastic boats at championship events. Great Britain had its first World Champion in Paul Farrant who in 1959 won the men’s K1 World Title. The second important period (1972 – 1992)was filled with changing and simplifying slalom rules as well as with hopes and dreams of slalom becoming an Olympic sport again. This time too, brought dramatic changes in boat construction. Canoe Slalom made its debut at the Olympic Games in 1972 with the course at Augsburg in Germany still used for International competition today. Unfortunately after 1972, Canoe Slalom did not return to the Olympic programme until 1992. During the late 1970’s and 1980’s Great Britain became the dominant force in Canoe Slalom with multiple medallists and the 1983 World Championships remains Britain’s most successful Worlds in Canoe Slalom with 3 Golds, 2 Silvers and 2 Bronzes won.

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