Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Canoe Kayak Team Trials - Part 1

The National team trials were held at the beautiful and serene-looking Welland International Flatwater Centre this past weekend.

Don't believe for a moment that it stayed serene. This picture perfect moment was short-lived when the paddlers took to the water to give their all while their friends and family cheered them on. The wind gusts on Saturday made conditions extremely challenging. Saturday and Sunday were quite windy so the water did not stay this calm. Also breaking the serenity was the construction of the venue which is ongoing as they prepare to host the U23 and Junior World Championships at the beginning of August. The left side of the venue was closed to spectators this past weekend.

The event was a great opportunity to see Olympians (and Olympic medallists) in action as well as upcoming juniors and future Olympians.

Watching canoe/kayak in person is quite different to watching it on television where the paddlers are followed throughout the race, especially the 1000m races. I positioned myself in the last 200m so the view of the start of the longer races was not visible. During 200m races, I had a great view of the start and finish.

In order for racing to not look like this all day...

it helps to have binoculars or a zoom lens. Here is Olympic bronze medallist Mark Oldershaw who would win the C1-1000m event.

Olympian Jason McCoombs was the class of the field in the C1-200m with Mark Oldershaw finishing 2nd. You can see the difference in the conditions on Day 2.

Olympic multi-medallist and flag bearer Adam van Koeverden partnered with 2008 Olympian Brady Reardon to win the K2-1000m event.

One of the big excitements of the day was watching the K2-200m men battle for the single spot to represent Canada at the World Championships. Olympic K2 paddlers Ryan Cochrane and Hugues Fournel have been trying different combinations of partners this past spring. For these trials, Hugues partnered with Etienne Morneau while Ryan partnered with 2008 Olympian Richard Dober Jr. The pairs needed to win two races on the weekend with one race held each day. A tie-breaker would be held Sunday if needed.

No matter what the combination, they were going to be close races. The intensity of the moment increased with the only false start I witnessed on the weekend.

Here's the video for Race 1.
Lane 5 Ryan Cochrane, Richard Dober Jr
Lane 6 Hugues Fournel, Étienne Morneau
The first race was won by Cochrane and Dober Jr by 0.094 seconds.

It was super close at the half way point of the second final on Saturday with the pairs switching lanes. Morneau and Fournel are in lane 5 this time.

but in the end, Ryan and Richard won again to secure the World Championship spot.

Sunday morning, the K1-200m final was extremely close at the half way point in the race.

With most of the races won in the middle lanes and with SportCafé co-founder Etienne Morneau in lane 4, I was focused on these lanes. It looked like he had won it, but Shaun Fair in lane 8 (black t-shirt in red kayak at the top of the photo) came through with the win, 0.006 seconds ahead of Etienne.

It wasn't the only close race of the day. The K1-1000m saw Jarret Kanke in lane 9 win by 0.002 seconds over 2008 Olympian Angus Mortimer.

Here is Kanke in lane 3 during his heat.

I unfortunately didn't stay for the final that was being held after lunch.  I decided to return to Toronto for my daughter's consolation final soccer game. I missed a great kayak final but saw a great soccer one!

I can't end my first post without a photo of SportCafé co-founder Antoine Meunier who competed in the C1-200m. He unfortunately did not qualify for the A final, but comfortably won the B final by 2.5 seconds.

Stay tuned for future posts about the women and junior competitions.

Click here to view the team selection for the World Championships.

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