Canoe Slalom (Olympic Sport)

The objective of Canoe Slalom competition is to negotiate a rapid river course, defined by gates, without fault, in the shortest possible time.


Canoe Slalom is an exciting adrenaline-fuelled sport, where paddlers have to negotiate their way down a 300m white water rapid. A course should be between 250 and 400 m long, at least 40 cm deep and have a stream velocity of at least 2m/sec (=7.2 km/h). Usually these conditions are not taken so seriously, so there are also competitions on nearly still standing waters or even in swimming pools.

History Of Canoe Slalom

Modelled on slalom skiing, the first Canoe Slalom competition was held in Switzerland in 1932. The sport was staged on flat water during its early days, but was later switched to white water rapids. Since becoming a permanent part of the Olympic programme in 1992 in Barcelona, the sport has thrilled spectators at the Games with spectacular, non-stop action on the powerful water.

How To Play Canoe Slalom

Paddlers are awarded time penalties if they touch the gate, which is added to their running time. The combined score of time and penalties determines the finish order. There are two kinds of penalties. If you hit a gate in any way, 2 seconds get added per touch. If you miss a gate or get through it upside-down or in the wrong order then you receive a 50 second penalty.

In a competition there are two runs. The time of a run consists of the time for passing the course and eventually made penalties. Up till 2008 both runs got added to detect the winner, but since 2009 just the best run is counted. In international and national championships there are also different competitions modes than the described one.

There are three different disciplines:
1) Kayak Single (mens and womens category)
2) Canoe Single (mens and womens category)
3) Canoe Double (mens category)

In addition, there are team competitions (except in the Olympics), where three boats of the same discipline run the course at the same time.


Related Videos

Men’s K1 Obstacle Canoe Slalom Final – Singapore 2010 Youth Games

Women’s Obstacle Canoe Slalom Final – Singapore 2010 Youth Games

What is Flatwater Canoe Slalom?

Currently, Canoe Slalom is the newest developing kayaking sport in Singapore. The game is played the same as in whitewater. However, the objective is to negotiate a course on flat water without fault, in the shortest possible time. The course is defined by gates that are suspended over the water.