Local kayaker out early at junior worlds

Every time a basketball player goes to play, the court's length and width are the same and the net sits exactly 10 feet from the surface.

Every time a basketball player goes to play, the court’s length and width are the same and the net sits exactly 10 feet from the surface.

Freestyle kayakers don’t have the luxury of such consistent conditions.

Whitehorse’s Joel Brennan can vouch for that.

Representing Canada in the junior division of the World Freestyle Kayak Championships, the 17-year-old was eliminated in an early round on Thursday, finishing 26th out of 34 paddlers on the Isar River in Plattling, Germany.

Hurting his chances was a water level Brennan hadn’t practised on leading up to the competition.

“I just went in and messed up – I didn’t do my runs properly, like I expected to,” said Brennan. “It didn’t go as planned. I’m not sure exactly, the wave was at a strange level for me that I hadn’t paddled (before).”

With 225 of the world’s top freestyle paddlers, from 28 countries, vying for practise time on the wave, Brennan went three days without putting his boat in the river before the competition.

“I practised on the wave the week before, but the water levels having been rising and dropping,” said Brennan. “Every time you’re on the wave, it’s at a different level.”

Instead of performing a routine with an array of tricks, the Canadian junior team member was held to just a clean air-loop, “everything else just didn’t work out.”

“My training runs went well, so I was looking forward to it,” he said. “I was averaging about 400 points a run, but when I went to compete I only got 140 points between two runs.”

Brennan was selected for the team last August at the National Freestyle Kayak Team Trials in Calgary, finishing second in a field of 13, snagging one of just three spots.

Paddling in the Level Six Capital Cup in Ottawa at the end of April, Brennan dropped a spot in the standings after slipping off the wave in the final, but still came second in the junior pro category.

Competing in the Alabama Mountain Games in March, Brennan took first in freestyle for the intermediate division and also won a “boatercross” event, a slalom race with a waterfall in the course. He also came second in a “huckfest,” a trick competition off a 20-foot waterfall.

Though disappointed with his first appearance at the world championships, he is determined to return for another.

“It was amazing,” said Brennan. “It was an experience I’ll never forget. I’ll definitely be training hard this summer to compete at team trials next fall and, hopefully, I’ll make the team again, in the senior men category.”

Contact Tom Patrick at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An avalanche warning sigh along the South Klondike Highway. Local avalanche safety instructors say interest in courses has risen during the pandemic as more Yukoners explore socially distanced outdoor activities. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News file)
Backcountry busy: COVID-19 has Yukoners heading for the hills

Stable conditions for avalanches have provided a grace period for backcountry newcomers

Several people enter the COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Coast High Country Inn Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Jan. 26. The Yukon government announced on Jan. 25 that residents of Whitehorse, Ibex Valley, Marsh Lake and Mount Lorne areas 65 and older can now receive their vaccines. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Vaccine appointments available in Whitehorse for residents 65+

Yukoners 65 and older living in Whitehorse are now eligible to receive… Continue reading

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read