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Navigating the Olympic Waters in Flatwater and Slalom Racing

Aug 5, 2008
When the Olympic Games roll around every four years, people start watching sporting events that they normally would have no interest in. Sure, there are some glamor events like track and field, swimming and gymnastics but more often than not, people stay glued to the television set when these competitions are not broadcasting. Part of it is due to country pride and another part is due to the sports drama unfolding. In order to shed some light on the lesser known events, here's a sports profile of the rowing, canoeing and kayaking events at the Summer Olympics.

Rowing, canoeing and kayaking are all events that take place outdoors on open waters where the objective is to power your vessel through the appointed distance in the fastest time. The vessel, the number of crew members, and the method of human propulsion is different in each discipline.

In rowing, the athletes compete as singles, doubles, fours, or eights. They sit in the boat (shell) backward facing and use either scull oars or sweep oars. In scull rowing, the athlete has an oar in each hand. In sweep rowing, the rower has only one oar. For navigational balance, sweep rowing is paired in teams of twos, fours and eights. Olympic scull rowing also includes a coxwain in the eights event whose job is to steer and direct the crew. Moreover, the Olympics also added a lightweight event in the men and women double sculls to increase participation worldwide. There is also lightweight quad sculls but the event is restricted to men only.

Both the canoeing and kayaking events have where the athletes face forward in the boat with one oar. The canoeists paddle using a single bladed oar on both sides of the boat whereas the kayakers use double bladed paddles to cut through the water. Both disciplines have events on flatwater and also slalom courses.

On flatwater, canoeists and kayakers compete in singles, doubles and fours over distances of 500 and 1000 meters. In the canoeing events the athletes are kneeling in the boat whereas they are seated in the kayaks.

In the slalom events, the athletes go downstream and upstream navigating through gates on a man-made river. If a gate is touched, it adds 2 seconds to the time. If a gate is missed entirely, 50 seconds is added to the finish time. The events are single kayak slalom for men and women. However, for canoe slaloms, only the men compete in singles and tandems.

There you have a summary of the rowing, canoeing and kayaking events being at the Summer Olympics. Here's to cheering on your country!
About the Author
Mariam Ma is a freelance writer for Olympic Blvd where you can get Fuwa dolls and other FUWA mascots souvenirs.
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