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Old 02-10-2009   #1
Lyons, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 256

I notice that there are now a few options for buying plastic slalom boats. Is this the next step in boating?

I know slalom looks kind of lame with the current configuration of boats etc, but with rodeo waning and creeking on the rise and soon to drop off in popularity..what can be done to make slalom more fun? Here are some thoughts. Now that we have plenty of whitewater parks, and rodeo slowing down, as well as less water every years it seems, can WWPs be improved to make slalom more appealing to kayakers as they uhhhhh age. With these plastic boats can we now use them in Class IV Colorado Creeks?

I see a single pole slalom race in Class IV of water with competitors going head to head like a boatercross race--SlalomCross?? How can we make the same runs we have done over and over more exciting?

BTW, we just made some changes to the October Hole area in Lyons this year to make a pretty decent slalom course that will have water in it for a good portion of the year. I have tried slalom a few times and it is a pretty strong work I just need to find a boat I can fit my arse in!! ANy thoughts on this, while Spring is on the way!

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Old 02-10-2009   #2
B Dog
Missoula, Montana
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 8
I don't think the lack of people interested in slalom is because of the boats, its the boaters. There is no reason that you can't run a 'normal' slalom course in a creek boat, obviously you won't go as fast but its still very doable. Its seems as the new thing are these 'extreme slalom' races, like the one on the little white salmon in WA and the Green Narrows. These are great and very enjoyable to watch but a beginner, or an 'aged' boater will never attempt a course like that. A couple years ago we did a race on the Blackfoot in MT and did have a boatercross or slalom cross, whatever it may be called, where it was a group of boats racing through specific gates on the slalom course. It was very spectator friendly, as there was carnage, and was also fun to race. The problem was participation, the bro-yakers don't show up to 'low key' events without big prizes or some pro boater there. The image of paddling seems to be more important these days than the actual paddling, therein lies the problem. The paddling community has moved so much away from the technical part of paddling to the look cool part of paddling that slalom has been very overshadowed by creeking and playboating. Obviously creeking is more skill than style, well it takes skill. I would love to see more people interested in slalom also, and yeah making the courses more interesting, such as head to head races etc I believe is the next wave of slalom or at least a way to make things more interesting. Its a matter of getting people to just try it and they will usually have fun with it. My experience has been that when a newer paddler that can surf a wave and spin and do basic tricks on a wave or in a hole doesn't do very well on a slalom course because they don't have basic river running skills such as eddy turns and ferries. So they don't come back next year because they aren't good at it, so making easier courses or modified courses for beginners is a possibility also. Anyway its too bad slalom is only recognized when the olympics are on or by the hardcore slalom boaters because it is a great way to learn how read and run a river.

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Old 02-10-2009   #3
caspermike's Avatar
Bozeman, Montana
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,507
Boatercross is on the rise baby.
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Old 02-10-2009   #4
phlyingfish's Avatar
Moscow, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 269
Good topic. Many of the points you make seem to relate to the next step in competitive boating, not boating in general. The most recent version of the AW journal has a series of extremely informative essays by a number of top names in the sport addressing where the sport of whitewater paddling is going. Most seem to agree (myself included) that the sport is not going in any one direction, but rather different individuals or groups are continually pushing all aspects of the sport farther. However, they all seem to agree that river running is the foundation, the one common form of the sport that all of these different aspects stem from.

As far as competitive boating goes, I see an imminent return to our collective racing roots. Why? Because races can be held on any kind of water, they are relatively easy to organize, and the formats can be changed to make a race as accessible or as challenging as the competitors (if we're talking grass roots community events like the Cheat Race, Great Falls Race, Little White Race, etc.) or organizers (if we're talking larger scale events such as Teva Games or Gorge Games) want. This return to downriver racing is already happening, but I think we need more of it because it is a form of competitive paddling that is accessible to the weekend warrior crowd in a way that modern freestyle or slalom is not.

Arn, you might be interested to know that a series of Giant Slalom races were held on four of the premier class V runs in the country last year. Boat lengths for these races were limited to 9 ft., which means everyone who competed was paddling their creeker. It would be entirely possible to adapt the same Giant Slalom concept to easier water at, say, a whitewater park to make an event more accessible. What I found compelling about Giant Slalom was that the courses mimicked hard moves that a paddler might try while paddling downstream instead of imposing a set line that forces competitors to approach the course in a less organic way.

Where I disagree with you is the notion that interest in creeking/river running, the very core of our collective experiences on the river, is about to wane and that a return to slalom races in slalom boats should take its place. On the contrary, I think river running and creeking, which is really just advanced river running, should be the single greatest influence on competitive kayaking since that is what most paddlers spend their time doing. While conventional slalom courses and races are certainly a great workout and a great way to hone your skills, I don't see it as model for reinvigorating interest in the competitive side of the sport (something that is sorely needed if we want to see participation numbers increase again).
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Old 02-10-2009   #5
caspermike's Avatar
Bozeman, Montana
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 5,507
I agree with mark. we need more competitive races like the poudre grass roots event at the end of the year.
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Old 02-11-2009   #6
Lyons, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 256
The giant slalom idea is pretty interesting. I think that slalom still needs to go through a transition in technology and the structure of the sport to get people interested. Faster, plastic & more comfortable slalom boats will certainly help. It does not seem that comfort has been addressed so far in the plastic boats I have seen. Why don't they use the modern style of leg position that is in todays playboats and creek boats in Slalom boats?

Are there other features we can create in WWPs to make this sport more interesting? Will more boulders or stronger eddie lines or retentive holes or man made boofs or multiple drop structures help? Currently we have single drops with a pool in WWPs, which are not very technical in nature.

BTW, I don't think this will ever replace river running, that was misunderstood. I think the interest and development of boats seems to be centered on steep creeking specific boats and is about to peak much like play boating has already. Overall, Slalom will definitely help creeking skills and will probably extend our season on the water much like playboating did in the WWPs. I do think we will see faster river runners and creekers in the future, which have been lacking over the past several years.

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