Precision and Speed on Whitewater

Canoe Slalom is an exciting, adrenaline fueled sport, where the paddlers have to negotiate their way down a 300m whitewater rapid. Paddlers race through a series of up to 25 gates, which are made up of red and green poles. The colored poles determine the direction that the paddlers must past through each gate. Competitors are challenged to race as fast as they can through the course of gates whilst battling with the challenging whitewater rapids of waves, stoppers and eddies to accomplish the quickest time. Paddlers are awarded time penalties of 2 seconds if they touch a gate and 50 seconds if they miss a gate altogether, which is added to their running time. The combined score of time and penalties determines the finish order. There are five categories that slalom paddlers compete in. Both women and men race in Kayak single (K1) and the canoe single (C1) event, men can also race in the canoe double (C2) event. In their categories the paddlers also compete in team events. Teams consist of three boats, who work together weaving in and out of gates on the course, keeping as close to one another possible. Slalom is truly dynamic sport that sees its athletes take on some of nature’s most challenging whitewater. The athletes are in amongst the elements as they battle through the challenging rapids, demonstrating immense skill and physical strength in order to chance victory.
Photo by RFort
A Short 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 International Canoe Federation (ICF) were organized in 1949 in Geneva, Switzerland. From this date it is possible to divide the history of Canoe Slalom into three periods: From 1949 - 1972, from 1972 - 1992 and from 1992 to the present day.

The first period is characterized by dramatic changes. Folding and rigid canvas canoes were replaced with fiberglass reinforced plastic boats at championship events. The second important period 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. The third period began with the reintroduction of Canoe Slalom at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. This was another period of new changes to the slalom rules: the penalty for a touch and the two run system were changed. It was around this time that Canoe Slalom saw a massive increase of interest outside of its traditional home of Europe and North America to all other continents.

The most recent development in the sport has come with the introduction of the women's canoe (C1W) to the the 2010 World Championship program, demonstrating real progression towards gender equity. C1W should make its Olympic debut at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Photo by RFort

The Appeal of Canoe Slalom

What makes Canoe Slalom so exciting? In brief, the fact that an athlete battles the force of pure nature is what makes the sport so enthralling. The image of him, or her, struggling against powerful roaring waters, eddies, swirls, stoppers, etc. is a distinctive one and because of this, Canoe Slalom translates to the screen bringing spectators close to the river.

This intrinsic link to nature brings another dimension to the sport and with that comes a feeling of well-being. Whitewater sport and especially Canoe Slalom play an important role in protecting nature and in protecting our environment, which today is a very specific problem.

Canoe Slalom E-Book

A quarter century ago, former National Team Coach Bill Endicott wrote three books on whitewater slalom, "The River Masters" (1977), "To Win The Worlds" (1979), and "The Ultimate Run" (1981). Ever since, athletes from around the world have read and been inspired by these books to get into the sport. Others have used them to learn about serious training. Time has moved on and these books are now out of date, so this Canoe Slalom E-Book has been produced to combine the information from those three books. The project was undertaken with the hope and understanding that readers will provide their input and feedback. In fact the author, Mr. Endicott invites anyone to contact him directly at
  • Table of contents
  • Introduction
  • Ch 1 History
  • Ch 3 Technique
  • Ch 6 case study Intro
  • Ch 6a case study RGiddens
  • Ch 6b case study OFix
  • Ch 6c case study Three in a row
  • Ch 6d case study BPeschier
  • Ch 6e case study FLefevre
  • Ch 6f case study PRatcliffe