Kylie Zirk off to Represent Canada

Our very talented team member Kylie Zirk boarded her flight last night to join the rest of Team Canada in Australia to compete at the Junior/U23 World Championships. Kylie will be competing in both the K1 junior women and the C1 junior women competitions as the first woman to make the junior team in two separate categories.

Live results for the competition April 23-27 will be available at http://canoeliveresults.com/

Other information regarding the event can be found at http://penrith2014.worldchampionships.events.slalom.canoeicf.com/

Make sure to check out Kylie’s athlete Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/kyliezirkwhitewater

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Year Recap!!!!

One word to describe this year…SUCCESSFUL!!!!! Another word to describe this year…BUSY!!!!!!!

The year started off as usual with competitive and family pool sessions throughout the winter. Thanks to one of our parents, Parker Zirk, the competitive group finally had a full gate setup in the swimming pool which made a huge difference in their training. Our family paddle nights were well attended and everyone had a blast learning and perfecting new skills. One of our youngest members, Emmett (3yrs), learned to wet exit and roll in the double with his dad while 10yr old Justin became a rolling machine!!!!!

Club member Ben Lapointe started competing at a higher level in Canoe Polo competing at various competitions with the UofS Canoe Polo Team as well as being invited to participate in National Team Development camps throughout the winter. Kylie Zirk and Maksym Kryworuchko also did additional training with the UofS Polo Team as crosstraining for the slalom season.

In May, Kylie Zirk, Maksym Kryworuchko, and Jakob Kryworuchko attended Slalom National Team Selections with their coach Brendan Curson and team mom Jen Kryworuchko. They hopped in a van in Saskatoon on Friday morning and arrived in Minden, ON Saturday afternoon!!! Midway through a week of training the rains came and water levels jumped increasing the flow rate from 23cms (regular race flow) to 35 cms (World Cup level) and finally peaking at 40cms which made it the highest water level a race had ever been held at in Minden. The site is very difficult at regular flow so at twice the regular flow the course became monstrous and fast. The race went off without a hitch, though for many of the younger paddlers it was more about survival than racing!! At the end of the weekend, Kylie Zirk had qualified for a spot on the National Junior Team in K1 junior women and Maksym Kryworuchko had to settle for a 5th place finish in the highly competitive K1 junior men.

Throughout June we watched with the rest of Canada at the horror that overcame Alberta. We were glued to our computer screens watching the flow rate guages explode one after the other as many of our favorite paddling spots were engulffed in flood.

By the time the July long weekend rolled around we were unsure if we would be able to hold our yearly family paddling weekend at our regular spot in central Alberta. With the weekend fast approching we watched as the floodwaters slowly receded and with great joy we headed out to catch the last remnents of high water playspots!! It was a great weekend with lots of surfing, scouting new river channels, and birthday celebrations!!!

In July, Kylie Zirk travelled to Liptovsky, Slovakia to compete in the ICF Junior/U23 World Slalom Championships as a member of the Canadian Team. Kylie spent three weeks in Europe training with the best junior age slalom athletes in the world and learned a tremendous amount. Kylie showed her true potential with one of the best runs of the weekend for Canada leaving her in 40th after first runs. Kylie finished off the race in 50th place out of 86 competitors and considering she was the youngest competitor in the competition she proved she is a force to be reckoned with in years to come.

Closer to home, the Kryworuchko family took off to Kananaskis for the month of July to prepare for the National Championships and 2014 Junior/U23 National Team selections. The course at Kananaskis was destroyed by the June floods and had to be completely rebuilt. Between sessions the Kryworuchko family worked with the Alberta athletes to completely rebuild the course in time for National Championships.

July also saw Ben Lapointe travel to Welland, ON to take part in the National Canoe Polo Championships.

At the end of July all our athletes travelled to Kananaskis for National Championships and Junior/U23 National Team Selections. The event was well run and well attended with athletes from France, Australia, USA, and Canada. This was also the first Nationals with participation from 7 different provinces/territories including BC, YK, AB, SK, MB, ON, and QC. OUr athletes competed extremely well with medal performances from Kylie Zirk in K1W Jr and C1W Jr as well as from Ben Lapointe in C2M Jr. Other notable performances came from Maksym Kryworuchko who earned himself a 4th in K1M Jr in an extremely competitive class. Justin Beckstrand and Jakob Kryworuchko also had extremely positive performances. By the end of the weekend Kylie Zirk had earned a spot on the National Junior Team in both K1W and C1W to compete at World Championships in April 2014 in Australia and Maksym Kryworuchko had earned a spot as the first alternate in K1M.

With the summer finally coming in August our athletes once again travelled back to Kananaskis for Alberta provincial championships. This is always a really fun event with activities and events for the whole family. with tremendous performances from all our athletes almost everyone hit the podium at least once!!

Once again, congrats to all our paddlers on a tremendous year and Many thanks to all the parents and families who make our dreams a reality!!!!

New session dates!!!

INTRO TO COMP/HP:

Session 1:  Oct 13 – Dec 1

Session 2:  Dec 8 – Feb 9 (no class Dec 29 or Jan 5)

Session 3: Mar 2 – May 4 (no class Mar 30 or Apr 6)

(each session consists of 8 classes for $110/participant)

FAMILY:

Session 1: Oct 13 – Jan 12 (no class Dec 29 or Jan 5)

Session 2: Jan 19 – May 4 (no class Feb 16, Feb 23, Mar 30, Apr 6)

(each session consists of 12 classes for $200/family)

Stay Safe Out There

Stay Safe Out There

Thoughts from Brendan Curson, Head Coach and Program Director, Saskatoon Whitewater Kayak Club

As a coach we do everything we can to prepare our athletes and paddlers to reach their goals. We encourage our athletes to strive for their best and sometimes even give a gentle nudge when required to push them through that comfort zone in order to expand their tool bag of skills. As coaches we also drill into our athletes the importance of safety and ensure they are prepared for any situation they encounter.  Our goal as coaches is to make our athletes shine in the spotlight and quietly sit on the side of the river watching them as they reach for greatness. Just like a family, our athletes eventually leave the protection of the nest and reach out into new and more exciting directions. At this point all we can do is sit back, encourage, and allow them to find their own way.

This weekend, our small community lost one of our shining stars. Peter Thompson was one of those one-in-a-million individuals who had the ability to make your world seem just a little brighter. Not only was Peter a tremendous paddler, skier, and outdoor enthusiast, he was also one of the most enthusiastic and caring people you could meet. At the young age of 19 Peter had compiled an incredible list of accomplishments and was only just beginning to find his path in this world.

When I first found out about Peter’s passing on Friday, I was hit with shock and sadness. Now that I have had an opportunity to digest the sad news I am now frustrated and angered by the loss of someone who had not yet reached their full potential in life. As a coach, I can’t help but ask all the usual questions:

  • What was the situation?
  • Were the boys being safe?
  • Were they putting themselves or the camera first?
  • Could this have been avoided?

The unfortunate part is that I already know the answer to these questions because coaches like myself and others had spent endless amounts of time helping prepare Peter and paddlers just like him to have the skills to be able to succeed in the paddling realm.

I also can’t help wondering if we as coaches played a part in Peter’s death. We understand that if we don’t teach our athletes the proper skills to succeed that they will seek them elsewhere and not necessarily from the best sources. Probably the most influential and positive source of skill development for Peter was World Class Kayaking School. This program is just that, world class. They have provided opportunities to youth to succeed in every part of their lives for many years and are leaders in developing well rounded and tremendously successful paddlers. But just as I encourage my athletes to reach for their goals, World Class encourage their paddlers to push their limits in order to build their tool bag of skills. In providing Peter with the opportunity to hone his skills on rivers and creeks and encouraging him to always search for something more, did we in some way contribute to him leaving us too early?

The other part of this that I can’t help question is how technology has played into the multiple paddling deaths our small community has endured this past year. Today every athlete in every sport has a video camera and a computer. As coaches, we spend a lot of time watching unbelievable video of our athletes performing tremendous feats of athleticism. Not only do these videos provide amazing entertainment but they show what is possible in the world of sport. At what point though does it all go too far? I have watched some pretty scary footage over the past year of paddlers pushing their limits to what I would consider the extreme in order to capture the best video available. Not only are these videos viewed by thousands online, but they are praised and even awarded for progressing the sport. I can’t help but wonder what the balance of positive and negative influence this technology has on the youth who are also deciding what’s possible.

When it comes down to it, there are always more questions than answers and we do our best to move forward in a positive direction. I will personally miss my friend Peter and choose to be comforted by what he was able to contribute to this world in the short time he was with us. For all the paddlers out there, young and old, I encourage you to BE SAFE out there. Always put yourself first and always listen to the little voice in your head. Remember that you, and only you, know your limits and know when you are capable of pushing those limits or staying within them.

(Peter Thompson instructing at the SWKC Whitewater Camp)

Nationals Results

Here are the Full results from National Championships in Valleyfield, QC:

Sprint DR
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0Bw_BLM7FVcUoOHBycTU2TGJ6U2s
Classic DR
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0Bw_BLM7FVcUoZXdFMjJqejhHaUU
Age Group Slalom Saturday
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0Bw_BLM7FVcUoa0JPN0dCSk9TYm8
Sunday Slalom
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0Bw_BLM7FVcUoVDhXaHF4U2dseE0
Team Runs
https://docs.google.com/open?id=0Bw_BLM7FVcUoNGxXV3dEUGJNdDg