Oklahoma City is a hot spot for trying your hand at some Olympic sports, as well as being a prime location for training Olympic-caliber athletes. We're sure you're as taken with these impressive water sports as we are. Here's a little info (thanks to our pals over at Oklahoma City RIVERSPORT) to help you understand the ins and outs of canoe / kayak events you'll witness during your Olympic watch parties.
Sprint racing is a fast-paced sport that includes both canoe and kayak events. Athletes race in separate lanes on a straight course with calm water. Sprint kayaking focuses on 200m, 500m and 1000m racing. In kayak events, paddlers are seated in their boats and use a double-blade paddle. In canoe events, paddlers kneel and use a single-blade paddle.
As an Olympic sport, whitewater slalom made its debut during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, but did not reappear until the 1992 Games in Barcelona, Spain. Today, it is fast growing in popularity as one of the more exciting Olympic sports.
Whitewater slalom athletes navigate their canoe or kayak through gates as they work their way through whitewater rapids in the fastest time possible. Hitting one of the hanging gates or missing one completely results in penalties which are added to the paddler's time at the end of his or her run. A two-second penalty is given for a touched gate, and if the gate is missed completely there is a 50-second penalty.
Each course has approximately 18-24 hanging gates that are color-coded to indicate which direction the paddler must pass through. Green gates are negotiated heading downstream while red gates require the paddler to reverse direction and pass through them heading upstream.