Considering the amount of competing he has done this year, is would seem Whitehorse’s Pelly Vincent-Braun has spent more time in boats than he has on land this summer.
Vincent-Braun and Yukon teammate Hunter Vincent got one last competition in as the territory slides into an early autumn.
The two Yukon paddlers won multiple medals and topped their divisions at the Alberta Provincial Whitewater Championships over the weekend at Canoe Meadows on the Kananaskis River near Calgary.
“It was fun. There was a bunch of different classes to race in – I raced in a whole bunch of them,” said Vincent-Braun. “I hadn’t been back to Kananaskis in a few years and most of the Alberta people are good friends now because I’ve been paddling with them so often the last few years.
“I’m pretty happy with my races.”
This year Vincent-Braun has competed at the junior worlds, the nationals, as well as the Canada Western Summer Games in flat-water racing.
The 16-year wrapped up his whitewater season winning a variety pack – gold, silver and bronze – in his individual races to take first in the junior category. He snatched gold in the C-1 downriver race, silver in the advanced junior C-1 slalom event and bronze in junior freestyle, paddling a canoe in a kayak division.
“I was really happy with my performance in the freestyle,” said Vincent-Braun. “I was the only C-1 boat and I was competing in the kayak junior class and came third, which I was really happy about.”
Vincent collected even more hardware on his way to winning the overall cadet title.
The 12-year-old picked up gold in the beginner C-1 slalom, gold in the novice cadet C-1 slalom and silver in the C-1 downriver race. Vincent has been paddling for five years but only got into whitewater competitions this summer. The weekend was his first time competing in a C-1.
“I thought it was really fun. I got to try out lots of different things,” said Vincent. “I got to learn how to do C-1 … I won gold in it and it was definitely my first time … I was really proud of that because that was probably my best run all weekend. I didn’t touch a single thing or miss anything.”
“It’s a new thing and I’m trying to get good at it,” he added.
Vincent also won bronze in the advanced cadet K-1 slalom and in the novice cadet K-1 freestyle.
Vincent and Vincent-Braun, who are second cousins, also teamed up to win gold in the novice junior C-2 and silver in the advanced C-2 over the weekend.
In April Vincent-Braun became the first Yukoner to compete at the ICF Junior and U23 Canoe Slalom World Championships in Brazil, where he placed 37th out of 43 competitors in the C-1 junior men’s category.
He then won seven medals, including four gold, at the Canadian Whitewater Championships in July. Vincent produced three top-10 finishes at the nationals as well.
“I’ve had lots of great experiences and I’m enjoying racing – different competitions, meeting different people,” said Vincent-Braun. “I’m happy to be progressing in my sport and in many different classes of paddling. At westerns I was doing (flat-water) sprint paddling and I hadn’t done that before.”
Results like these could become more common for Yukon in the future. The Yukon Canoe and Kayak Club just acquired six new whitewater slalom boats with the help of Yukon Lotteries and the club is currently searching for a spot for a slalom course in the territory. Also, the Alberta whitewater team has offered to send a coach to Yukon next summer to help start a whitewater program.
“As part of Hunter learning the sport, we basically spent much of the summer, off and on, with the Alberta slalom team because the Yukon doesn’t have a program yet,” said parent volunteer Lee Vincent.
“The Yukon Canoe and Kayak Club is looking to build a program with coaching and things like that. That’s how they were successful in getting six new boats from Lotteries (Yukon) this summer, to help us build the program for next summer. So hopefully they’ll be more kids coming through the sport.”
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