Whitehorse paddlers race to national titles

Pelly Vincent-Braun, Mael Pronovost and Luanda Pronovost paddled to gold at the 2016 Canoe Kayak Whitewater Championships in Jonquiere, Que., over the last week.

Whitehorse is now home to three national whitewater champions.

Pelly Vincent-Braun, Mael Pronovost and Luanda Pronovost paddled to gold at the 2016 Canoe Kayak Whitewater Championships in Jonquiere, Que., over the last week.

The three paddlers faced fast competition and a challenging river — the Riviere aux Sables — that tested the best around at the world championship in 1979.

“I did 14 out of the 21 gates, I didn’t do all the gates, but I guess that’s fine because the river is one of the hardest slalom courses in Canada,” said Luanda.

“The river was definitely challenging because it was Class 3-plus and I didn’t train much this summer. But I had five days of training before the race and that helped a lot.”

Luanda captured the first national title for the small three-paddler Yukon team in Quebec.

The 12-year-old won gold in K-1 (solo kayak) in a downriver sprint for cadet division women last week. She then took silver in K-1 slalom in the same division Saturday.

“It’s pretty cool. It was a really fun week and I’m proud,” said Luanda. “Last year I only did the downriver sprints. This was the first year of me doing the actually big (slalom) competitions.”

Mael and Vincent-Braun teamed up for gold, just like they did last year at nationals.

They started out with bronze in the in downriver sprint last week and then sped to gold in the slalom — both for junior men C-2 (tandem canoe).

Vincent-Braun, who raced for Canada at the ICF Junior and U23 Canoe Slalom World Championships last month in Poland, also claimed silver in the C-1 downriver sprint, gold in the C-1 downriver classic last week, and silver in C-1 slalom over the weekend.

Mael — Luanda’s older brother — paddled in both kayak and canoe at nationals. He posted ninth in both downriver events (in fields of 18 and 21 paddlers) and 11th out of 22 in slalom over the weekend.

He also surprised himself with fifth in the downriver sprint and fourth in the slalom C-1 events for junior men.

“It was pretty challenging for a slalom course, especially the last section of it — it was a quick moving-water drop,” said Mael.

“I was really surprised since I did so good in C-1 since it was my first year ever being in one. It was like my fifth time ever sitting in one.”

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com

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