Former champs regain titles at Whitewater Rodeo

Two former national team paddlers, a Paralympic medalist and plenty of past winners hit the water for the annual event hosted by the Yukon Canoe and Kayak Club by the Rotary Centennial Bridge in Whitehorse.

Waves were big and competition steep at the Whitewater Rodeo on Wednesday.

Two former national team paddlers, a Paralympic medalist and plenty of past winners hit the water for the annual event hosted by the Yukon Canoe and Kayak Club by the Rotary Centennial Bridge in Whitehorse. As usual, Yukon Energy helped out by letting more water through its dam to boost the waves for the competition on the Yukon River.

“It was great. It was super well organized, it was great to see everybody out, I had a lot of fun,” said Whitehorse’s Kevin Daffe. “I don’t have a lot of time to boat for fun, so it was great to have everybody out and paddle with my friends.

“I was surprised by the results, but it happened.”

A first place finish in the advanced freestyle kayak division shouldn’t be too surprising to Daffe. Not only has he won the division numerous times before, Daffe represented Canada at the junior world championships in 1999.

Daffe took first ahead of 2013 champ Olivier Roy-Jauvin in second. Defending champ Joel Brennan, who paddled for Canada at the 2011 junior worlds, tied Brendan Zrum for third.

Daffe last won the advanced title in 2012.

“My first ride I washed out and came back early and threw my paddle away, so I think that was a good crowd-pleaser,” said the 35-year-old. “In my last ride I stayed in the hole for a full 30 seconds, which is harder than it looks. I think I was able to rack up points that way.”

Daffe took two titles on Wednesday. He traded his stubby freestyle kayak for a sleeker model and produced the fastest time on the slalom course.

“The Yukon Canoe and Kayak Club has slalom boats now, which for a bunch of us was our first time in them,” said Daffe. “It was really fast, really fun. I think you’ll see the sport progress a bit.”

Four divisions saw former champs regain crowns.

Dean Bennett reclaimed his 2013 title in the intermediate freestyle kayak.

Trevor Braun took first in the freestyle canoe division, which he won in 1997 and 1999.

Luanda Pronovost, 12, topped the boogie board division, which was added to the event in 2010. She won the division in 2014 and placed second last year.

“It was fun. I finally stood up on my board,” said Pronovost. “I came once this summer (to practice), that’s it. I used to come a lot, but I don’t anymore.”

Pronovost was also in the winning boat in the raft-flip race, which requires crews to flip their raft before crossing the finish line. She was joined in the raft by her father Marc, Adam Robinson, Andrew Crist and Dave Swinson.

Though he didn’t place in the advanced freestyle kayak division, just being there was a treat for Terrace, B.C.’s Caleb Brousseau, who won bronze in para-alpine skiing at the 2014 Paralympic Games.

Brousseau, who lived in Haines Junction about 15 years ago, was in town to visit friends.

“It’s kind of nostalgic for me to come back and check it all out again,” said Brousseau. “It turned out it worked out with when the event was happening.

“It was my first time in the Whitewater Rodeo — I’ve been wanting to do it for years.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

Results

Boogie board

1st Luanda Pronovost

2nd Hayley Taylor

3rd Logan Kruse

3rd Victor Thib

Beginner freestyle kayak

1st Logan Kruse

2nd Luanda Pronovost

Intermediate freestyle kayak

1st Dean Bennett

2nd Jeff Cousins

3rd Hunter Vincent

Advanced freestyle kayak

1st Kevin Daffe

2nd Olivier Roy-Jauvin

3rd Joel Brennan

3rd Brendan Zrum

Freestyle canoe

1st Trevor Braun

2nd Hunter Vincent

3rd Daniel Jalwoski

Slalom kayak

1st Kevin Daffe

2nd Olivier Roy-Jauvin

3rd Brendan Zrum

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