Dana Chladek's Guide to Watching Canoe Slalom

Dana Chladek's Guide to Watching Canoe Slalom

(Courtesy of Dana Chladek)
Introducing the Expert

Name: Dana Chladek
Location: Bethesda, Maryland
Games and Medals: Barcelona 1992 (Bronze, K-1); Atlanta 1996 (Silver, K-1)
Key Quote: “Canoe slalom is a blend of precision and grace combined with a high level of strength and conditioning.”
Favorite Olympic Moment: “The hardest move of my second run at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics was a right to left cross at the edge of a huge hole, through a big drop called “Humongous.” I heard the roar of the crowd and then paddled perfectly through the drop and the last few gates. I still remember the exhilarating feeling.”


Kayak: 11.5 feet long and 19 pounds, a kayak is paddled seated and with a paddle with a blade on both ends. Both men and women paddle kayak.

Single Canoe: Also 11.5 feet long and 20 pounds, a single canoe is paddled kneeling and with a single-bladed paddle. Only men paddle canoe in the Olympics, but women’s canoe is expanding and is working towards inclusion.

Double canoe: A men’s double canoe is over 12 feet long and weighs 24 pounds.

[Pro Tip: Slalom kayaks and canoes look very similar. To identify which is which, look at the paddle the athlete is using: one blade=canoe, two blades=kayak.]

Gate: Two striped poles, dangling from a wire that crosses over the course, that a competitor must pass through


1. Clean Run - a race run with no pole touches

2. Stopper - In British English, this refers to a hole. A hole is water flowing steeply over an obstacle; the water flows back over itself and creates an exciting, white, frothing feature.

3. Boof - “lifting” the bow up and over a hole with a well-timed stroke to keep the boat gliding smoothly instead of getting stopped by the white of the hole


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