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
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
1st – Kevin Daffe
2nd – Bob Daffe
3rd – Tony Radford
1st – Bob Daffe & Theresa Landman
2nd – Walter Brennan & Lawrence Brennan
3rd – Trevor Braun & Pelly Braun
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 email@example.com