I have spent years paddling by the poor slalom boaters and always felt they were really missing out on the whole whitewater experience—spending so much of their time paddling through a series of gates like energizer bunnies. Personally speaking, my goal has always been to see how few strokes/little effort I could exert running a rapid, not how fast I could go. But this spring I had a change of heart. It started with the English Gate.
Looking for something new to use as a teaching tool I stumbled onto the English Gate. The English Gate Sequence is a series of drills done using even just one slalom gate set up on flat water. Under the tutelage of former olympic slalom racer Horace Holden, I thrashed about learning the sequence. There was a fair amount of gate swinging that went on that first practice. But I came away with a new-found awareness of how using gates can be super beneficial to whitewater kayakers.
The English Gate has become a new favorite tool for working with intermediate to advanced boaters committed to improving their technique. It also became the catalyst for expanding my own training and before long I was eying the slalom gates set up on the Nantahala River.
The Nantahala is not only a perfect setting for slalom gates, the community is full of current—and more importantly, former slalom racers. I was inspired to seek out more coaching and turned to community member and former Olympian Adam Clawson. Adam joined Leela and I at the gates one evening. In between coaching tips, Adam made fun of the fact that Leela and I were in whitewater boats. But then we returned the shots when he had to get off his knees every fifteen minutes!
From that first coaching from Horace, and every additional opportunity to work the gates I have continued to learn more….and am set on bringing in more whitewater kayakers to dodge swinging gates and show the slalom boaters that short little whitewater boats can run gates also 🙂
If this piques your interest, join us for LESSONS IN SLALOM GATES AND WHITEWATER KAYAKING.