Competition / Slalom


Thanks to the Olympics, slalom’s often the first thing to pop into people’s heads when they think of canoeing. Timed runs down a section of white water, weaving through and around a course of suspended poles can test anyone’s skills, whether they’re new to the sport or competing at an international level.
What’s a competition like?

You don’t have to be an Olympian to have a go at a slalom race! Competitions run through up to 25 gates strung out across a section of river, and you’ve got to dart between them as quickly and as cleanly as you can.

The stopwatch runs from the top of the course to the finish, but you’ve also got to add in any penalties for touching poles or – worst of all – missing a gate completely. So while speed’s important, you’ve got to be precise at the same time.

There are four categories in a slalom race: men’s and ladies single kayak (K1), single canoe (C1) and two-person canoe (C2). 

How do I get started?

The best way is through your local slalom club. Check out our club finder to help you find a club near you - just tick the Slalom box to narrow your search down to clubs with a slalom section. 

You can start off with any boat you’re happy in, and lots of clubs have permanent gates set up over easy rapids or flatwater to help paddlers practice.

To try your first race, find a division 4 race and give it a go. As you get faster, you can work your way up through divisions 3, 2 and 1 – which is where you can try and earn a place in the top-level Premier division.

What are the opportunities in Wales?

There are clubs that compete all over Wales, and we’ve also got some of Britain’s best slalom courses. Famous race venues include the Dee at Llangollen, the Tryweryn at Bala, the Teifi at Llandysul and Cardiff International White Water in Cardiff Bay.

We also run a talent pathway programme for up-and-coming young slalom athletes. Athletes who have been selected for this programme receive extra coaching through our team of Talent Pathway Officers and coaches at regional Talent Pathway sessions.

What do I need?

To start with, you can enter a race in any boat you’re comfortable in. As you get into the sport, you’ll want to pick up one of the faster, more nimble fibreglass or carbon-fibre competition boats to give yourself a fighting chance.
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