Yukon paddlers won a boatload of medals on the national stage last week.
Members of the Yukon Canoe and Kayak Club collected 10 medals at the Canadian Whitewater Championships on the Chilliwack River in Chilliwack, B.C., last week.
“Its great for paddling in Yukon and it’s great to get more kids out to nationals so they can see what it’s all about,” said Yukon coach Trevor Braun. “I’m just super happy that we could get these kids participating this year and hopefully we’ll get more next year. There was one or two kids who weren’t able to make it to the nationals this year – they would have had a great time, but I’m happy just to have more kids there.”
The Yukon team – the largest-ever sent by the territory with five paddlers – competed in downriver races Thursday and slalom races over the weekend.
Whitehorse’s Pelly Vincent-Braun improved on six medals from last year’s nationals to seven this year.
The 16-year-old captured gold in C-1 in both the classic (four-kilometre) and sprint (500-metre) races in the downriver event for juniors. He then took silver in C-1 in slalom for junior men.
“I was happy with my races. I was doing so many, by the end of the week I was super tired,” said Vincent-Braun. “I was happy to do well in so many categories because I raced every single category – C-1, C-2 and K-1. The last two nationals I haven’t raced K-1 before, so this was the first year I did that. It was fun to do something different.”
Vincent-Braun has won gold multiple times in the past for C-2, but this year it was different. For the first time he got to team up with a fellow Yukoner, Mael Pronovost, and they cleaned house.
The two won gold in both the classic and sprint downriver races in junior men and then gold in the C-2 slalom for junior boys and silver in open men.
“We only practiced for 15, 20 minutes the day before,” said Vincent-Braun.
Pronovost also placed seventh in the K-1 classic and fifth in the sprint for cadet males (11-14) in the downriver races and sixth in the K-1 slalom for cadet males.
“I really liked the slalom races, they were more fun than the downriver races,” said Pronovost, who won three medals last year. “But all of them were good, were fun.”
Braun pocketed back-to-back gold for C-1 in the downriver races for masters men and then silver in the slalom for the same division.
Luanda Pronovost almost added another medal for Yukon in K-1. Despite being at the bottom of her cadet age group and using a slalom boat, the 11-year-old placed fourth out of 16 in the downriver classic. She also took fifth in the sprint.
“It was really fun. In the Yukon we don’t get to do races and that was the first one of the year,” said Luanda. “We don’t have any good river training here.
“The week before I did a flat-water canoe camp (in Whitehorse) and we did a lot of flat-water training, paddling with straight arms and that helped a lot because the water in the race was kind of flat-water.”
Also representing Yukon in his first nationals was Hunter Vincent in the cadet division. Vincent placed ninth in the classic and 10th in the sprint for K-1 downriver races and 10th in slalom.
Vincent, Vincent-Braun and Mael also made Yukon’s first-ever squad entered in a team event at the slalom, placing fourth.
Vincent-Braun became the first Yukoner to compete at the ICF Junior and U23 Canoe Slalom World Championships in Brazil this past April.
“We want to thank Lotteries Yukon, YTG sport and rec, Air North and the Yukon Canoe and Kayak Club, our supporters, for helping getting the kids to the races,” added Braun.
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