Yukon canoeist to make historic run at nationals

Yukon is soon to have representation where it hasn't before.

Yukon is soon to have representation where it hasn’t before.

Whitehorse’s Pelly Vincent-Braun is about to become the first Yukon canoeist to compete at the national level at the 2013 CanoeKayak Canada Whitewater National Championships on the Kananaskis River in Alberta, an hour west of Calgary, next week.

“I’m really excited,” said Vincent-Braun. “It should be lots of fun … I can’t wait.”

The 14-year-old received an invite to the national championships after he attended a training camp with Alberta’s provincial team in April.

“My dad was talking to Michael Howard, he’s the national coach for Alberta, and he said they don’t have anyone from the Yukon down there. I went down to the training camp down there and I liked it,” he said.

Vincent-Braun will paddle in four events in his age group at the nationals. He will compete in downriver racing, C1 slalom racing and two freestyle whitewater events for open- and closed-body canoes.

The slalom and closed-body freestyle are his stronger events, he said.

The F.H. Collins student has paddled on rivers in Yukon, Quebec and Ontario. His father, Trevor Braun, is the owner of the Whitehorse-based paddling instruction outfit, Yukan Canoe.

“I’ve been in a boat all my life,” said Vincent-Braun. “I’ve been paddling pretty much every day this summer, so that helps.”

While the first canoeist from the territory, he’s not the first Yukon paddler to compete at nationals. Three kayakers have competed at the championships over the last two decades.

Most recently Whitehorse’s Joel Brennan competed in 2010 and went on to compete in the junior division of the World Freestyle Kayak Championships the next year in Germany.

Vincent-Braun, who is a member of the Yukon Canoe and Kayak Club, was the runner-up in the canoe division of the 2011 Whitewater Rodeo. (He missed last year’s rodeo.)

He has even made films about canoeing, including one called Paddling with Pelly that was shown at the Ain’t Louie Fest this past April in Tennessee.

The championship will be used in the selection process for U18 and U23 national teams.

Vincent-Braun, who is a biathlete during the winter season, hopes to push beyond the national level in the future.

“(C1 slalom) is in the Olympics, so that would be super awesome some day,” said Vincent-Braun.

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