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Tricks galore seen at Whitewater Rodeo

Since he started emceeing the event in 2004, Kalin Pallett has seen a marked improvement in young kayakers in the freestyle competition at Whitehorse's Whitewater Rodeo.

Since he started emceeing the event in 2004, Kalin Pallett has seen a marked improvement in young kayakers in the freestyle competition at Whitehorse’s Whitewater Rodeo.

“Every year the skill level with the juniors improves—these kids just get better and better,” said Pallett, general manager of Up North Adventures. “More modern designs make it a lot easier because the boats are better sized for them.

“My first summer here the kids would go out and just learn how to do a front surf or a side surf. If kid was able to do a 360—a complete rotation in the spinwave—that was pretty awesome. But now they’re doing all the tricks that the adults are doing.”

This year’s rodeo, held Wednesday just downriver from Yukon Energy, did not have adult and junior divisions in the freestyle event but intermediate and advanced categories, instead.

Taking top honours in the intermediate was Jason Zrum. However, Pallett was most impressed by second-place Joel Brennan, who was the only paddler to attempt a phonix monkey, an extremely difficult move that consists of positioning the kayak with one end in the air, spinning around (bow pirouette) and finishing with a front aerial loop.

“I just thought I’d try one,” said Brennan. “I’ve been working on the pirouette for a while, so I just have to add the loop into the combination. It’s pretty hard move.

“I didn’t have as many consecutive moves - I tried for big ones.”

Completing a couple cartwheels, a loop and finishing his final routine going hands-free without a paddle, was Kevin Daffe, who won the advanced competition.

“My parents started Tatshenshini Expediting when I was just a kid, so I’ve been paddling since I was eight years old,” said Daffe, who conducts paddling tours for Tatshenshini. “My life has been on water.”

Daffe, who represented Canada at the junior worlds in 1999, also won the downriver race in the kayak division and the kayak slalom, finishing one-up from his dad Bob in both events.

“Ever since I was a kid, he’s always seems to be a notch up on me—he’s still a really strong competitor,” said Daffe. “A lot of this is just being in the right place and a lot of luck getting the right surge at the right time.

“It’s fun to go head-to-head with the old man.”


Freestyle kayak - intermediate

1st - Jason Zrum, 156 points

2nd - Joel Brennan, 80 points

3rd - Geo Frechette, 43.2 points

4th - Dafnee Tuzlak, 36.8 points

Freestyle kayak - advanced

1st - Kevin Daffe, 153 points

2nd - Lawrence Brennan, 134.6 points

3rd - Tony Radford, 61.2 points

4th - Dean Bennett, 44.4 points

5th - Bob Daffe, 42.8 points

Freestyle canoe

1st - Mike Trelesky, 68 points

2nd - Trevor Braun, 54 points

Down river race - kayak

1st - Kevin Daffe

2nd - Bob Daffe

3rd - Yannick St. Jean

4th - Theresa Landman

5th - Tony Radford

6th - Daphnee Tuzlak

River race - tandem canoe

1st - Trevor Braun & Pelly Braun

2nd - Erin Oliver-Beebe & Kelly Bowers

Slalom kayak

1st - Kevin Daffe

2nd - Bob Daffe

3rd - Tony Radford

Slalom canoe

1st - Bob Daffe & Theresa Landman

2nd - Walter Brennan & Lawrence Brennan

3rd - Trevor Braun & Pelly Braun

Raft race

1st - Kevin Daffe, John Quinsey, Daphnee Tuzlak, Tony Radford, Kathleen Froese

2nd - Vernon Beebe, Dean Bennett, Jess Steinbach, Erin Oliver-Beebe, Yannick St. Jean

3rd - Bob Daffe, Theresa Landman, Andy Hyde, Kelly Bowers, Carson Close, Pelly Braun

Contact Tom Patrick at