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Whitehorse paddler prevails on Canada's toughest slalom course

Whitehorse's Pelly Vincent-Braun faced tough whitewater and fierce competition in Ontario last weekend.

Whitehorse’s Pelly Vincent-Braun faced tough whitewater and fierce competition in Ontario last weekend.

The 15-year-old took on some members of Canada’s national senior team in whitewater slalom at the Minden Hill Open in Minden, Ont.

Vincent-Braun sat in seventh after two runs on Saturday, missing a pair of gates on one run.

In Sunday’s final, he made all the gates and placed sixth overall and second for juniors out of nine paddlers.

“I pulled it off on the last run, which I’m pretty happy about because my first few I wasn’t completely happy with,” said Vincent-Braun. “I’m glad I figured it out on the last run.”

“I was paddling with some of the best in Canada, which was pretty neat,” he added. “I was watching them and trying to learn from their technique.”

The course at Minden Hill is a tough one, says coach and father Trevor Braun. There are 19 gates that paddlers must negotiate without touching, and they don’t see the layout of the course until the competition.

“In Minden he did really, really well because it’s the hardest course in Canada for slalom,” said Braun. “And it’s quite pushy whitewater ... its speed and it’s continuous, one feature after another.

“When they train they are on the river, but then they close the course and they rearrange all the gates, and then they have to race on those new gates. So it’s extremely challenging because they don’t get a practice run.”

Just days before Minden Hill, Vincent-Braun competed at the Montreal Eau Vive in whitewater freestyle on the Lachine Rapids. Vincent-Braun took first as the only C1 paddler in his converted kayak, with a canoe paddle in the kneeling position.

Vincent-Braun and fellow Whitehorse paddler Mael Pronovost are currently at the Whitewater National Championships underway at the Madawaska Kanu Center in Barry’s Bay, Ont.

It is Pronovost’s first appearance at the nationals and he is the first Yukoner to compete in the slalom kayak event, said Braun.

“I’m feeling pretty good about the nationals,” said Vincent-Braun. “For the freestyle, because it’s going to be on waves, instead of a (stationary wave) like we have in Whitehorse, I haven’t really figured out how to do it on a wave yet, so it’s kind of a new thing for me.”

Vincent-Braun is hoping to land a spot on Canada’s Junior National Slalom Team which will take him to the junior worlds championships in Brazil next spring. He will remain in Ontario after nationals for a Canada Cup freestyle competition with hopes of also making Canada’s national freestyle team.

Vincent-Braun captured eight medals at the 2013 Canadian National Whitewater Championships including gold in the C2 classic and sprint with Saskatchewan’s Ben Lapointe.

Contact Tom Patrick at