A day with the Brazilian Canoe Slalom Team

I have been following the Brazilian Canoe Slalom Team since 2012. In these 3 years they have made stellar progress towards their podium hopes at their home Rio Olympics.

The statistics reveal a very high historical correlation between Junior World Champions and future Olympic medallist – so you wouldn’t bet against Ana Satila being on the podium on her home course in Rio next summer! Read my latest article to find out why.

Read Breakfast with the Brazilian Canoe Slalom Team article

The article includes:

  • Wonderful photography again from Neil Proctor
  • Quotes from Lisa Micheler-Jones, Ana Satila & Guille Diez-Canedo
  • Highlights of Brazilian team results

You can also read the original 2013 “An Evening with the Brazilian Canoe Slalom Team” article here.

Prague 2013 - Brazillian Interview-12
Photo courtesy of Neil Proctor Photograpy

2015 ICF Canoe Slalom season preview

Al Ain photo courtesy of Richard Houslow
Al Ain photo courtesy of Richard Hounslow

Here is my 2015 season preview posted on Sportscene.

If you are an accomplished slalom paddler then good luck this season and alternatively if you are completely new to canoeing then I hope the above post encourages you to pick up a paddle for the first time. Happy reading.

The articles includes interviews with the Brazil team ahead of he Junior/ U23 World Championships, James Cartwright of Canoe-Kayak Canada ahead of the Pan American Games, Paul Owen, British Canoeing Chief Executive ahead of the Senior World Championships at Lee Valley as well as a variety of the top paddlers.

I will be providing live race tweets for the Pan Am Games, Lee Valley Worlds and through the World Cup races using #ICFslalom all season. Follow me @gregiej

Click here to see the 2014 reigning champions

Part 2 – Move to real time micro-blogging canoe slalom

This is the second in a series of posts describing the journey from print to digital supported by print in the world of canoe slalom. Last week’s post described the shift from copy and paste using scissors and glue to blogging. Today’s post builds on how micro-blogging is taking live race commentary on-line.

@gregiej on Twitter at the Prague Worlds 2013
@gregiej on Twitter at the Prague Worlds 2013

As outlined in last week’s post. I have been able to use blogging is a valuable mechanism to deliver content, however it is not so easy to do continuous live updates. This is where Twitter described as a micro-blogging platform has proved excellent. At the Deep Creek Worlds I posted more than 1,000 Tweets across the 5 race days. It was amusing for me to see the race commentary and media using the Tweets as a source of their facts and race information.

Twitter as well as Instagram and Facebook have opened a new world to journalism. I can obtain immediate quotes, insights, photographs, reactions from the canoe slalom community at a race; athletes, competitors, teams, officials and their family. I commented on Jess Fox’s apparent tweet as she prepared to start in C1W in Deep Creek. She alleged it was sent earlier than it appeared! Klauss & Peche (FRA) were also pictured taking and posting a selfie on the start.

I have been so excited to hear people I have never met are following live race tweets, including streaming on a screen at the gym so they can follow the race. Sportscene.tv has embedded my Twitter feed in its liveresults page. It continues to be an absolute race to find fast ways to post as the results can change so fast. Every tweet should include an agreed hastag. We used #canoeslalomworldcup through the 2014 World Cup races and agreed upon #DeepCreek2014 for the Worlds. I am pleased to see the ICF has now recommended a series of hastags with #ICFslalom for canoe slalom.

I have also developed a structure for the Tweets themselves with a consistent convention for example posting immediate unofficial results, then official results and the make-up of nations advancing in a particular class through to semi or finals.

Gull River, Minden, Ontario

I am exciting to wait for the start of the 2015 season including 5 World Cup races, Junior/ U23 and Senior Worlds as well as the Pan American Games #TO2015. I will be live tweeting.

As a closing reflection; in some respects live Twitter commentary doesn’t sound exactly new after all is that not what Teletext was 30 years ago? It has just become a little more portable.

World Paddle Awards

I am honoured to be nominated and shortlisted as Media Ambassador 2014 for the very first World Paddle Awards. You can read more about the 47 shortlisted nominees across 7 categories. You can read more about me and vote here.

Next week there will be part 3 in this series of articles includes my own top tips in using social media to generate modern day column inches across Paddlesport.

Photo credits Neil Proctor http://www.neilproctorphotography.co.uk @ProctorPhotos & Sarah Quart @gogolittlered

Part 1 – From canoe slalom column inches to blog followers

This is the first in a series of posts describing the journey from print to digital supported by print in the world of canoe slalom.

The Deep Creek official programme first page spread of feature
The Deep Creek official programme first page spread of feature

I have been writing about international canoe slalom since 1989. In those early days I wrote on an electric typewriter, copy and pasted (with scissors and paper glue) to make up a one page press release and then went off in pursuit of a hotel who would agree to a fee to fax the page to the national newspapers. I remember chasing down results with Jennifer Munroe on the bank of the river Dee for the ICF Llangollen class C international race. We have come a long way. In 1991 this was an especially popular international race prior to the Nottingham ’92 World Cup and Barcelona Olympics. That summer Gareth Marriott had won the pre-Olympics.

Working on Sportscene articles in the Prague media centre
Working on Sportscene articles in the Prague media centre

Some eighteen years later I agreed to write a daily blog for the SportFeed.com for the London Olympics. It proved a bigger undertaking than I could have imagined, particularly given that I was also working full time in the four weeks prior to the Olympic canoe slalom race at Lee Valley. On the race days the daily blog then became two posts, then three and then four. Exhausting. An incredible insight was that this linked content pushed me top of the Google ranking for searches on canoe slalom during the Olympics.

I have always been an early adopter on social media tools and now make a living do so. Out of shear natural curiosity, powered by ADD, I wanted to really understand how they could work for sport, the not-for-profit sector and business.  The daily blog for the London Olympics proved to me that it really is about content. I was honoured to receive permission to include photographs from many of the best photographers in the business, including World Paddle Awards co-nominee Antony Edmonds.  Fortunately, I was also sufficiently connected to obtain quotes from the legends in the sport of canoe slalom.

As a follow-up I produced an article published in the 2013 Planet Canoe print edition on the use of social media in the Olympics; @London2012 The impact of Social Media in 2012. Here is a link to the original article from which it was based. I now understand even better how blogging can drive SEO ranking and how with tools such as HubSpot we can help to integrate digital with followers and access to additional content.

The blogging has continued and evolved. I have posted 40+ articles since the London Olympics primarily through the fabulous Sportscene.tv platform. I think Rob van Bommel deserves enormous credit for a self-less passion to elevate Paddlesports. I have come up with something of a formula for these articles, including a standardized format for the race analytics. This has been made possible by using extensive spreadsheets collating all the race results for each paddler, class and race. These articles have included a preview of the year and end of season review as well as individual preview and review of each World Cup and World Championship races over the last two seasons. These have again been supported by stunning photography and insights from paddlers.

Going back to the start of today’s post it was a dream standing above Town Falls that one day we may be able to propel canoe slalom to a level to attract main stream TV coverage and sponsorship. Now, however, we have control of the distribution channel and can avoid the disappointment of toiling for hours to find the print media decided only to list the results and not the story behind them.

World Paddle Awards

I am honoured to be nominated and shortlisted as Media Ambassador 2014 for the very first World Paddle Awards. You can read more about the 47 shortlisted nominees across 7 categories. You can read more about me and vote here.

Part 2 in this series of articles next week will look specifically at micro-blogging. Follow me @gregiej 

A day of surprise exits – Praha Worlds Day 2 review

John Gregory – @gregiej – Who would have thought? Today we saw the unexpected exits of such big names as Kuhnle, Martikan, Molmenti, Kauzer and Schubert. Astonishing really! The competition is hotting up as the qualification heats concluded and we progressed onto a very tough tight new course for the semi-finals on the Troja course in picturesque Prague.

In the second day of heats competition has again been tight as expected.

Lizzie Neave K1W heat winner (photo courtesy of Neil Proctor)

In K1W overall heat winner was Lizzie Neave (GBR) with a faultless 2nd run of 98.09 seconds to lead 1.92 ahead of Olympic champion Émilie Fer (FRA). Fer had set the pace in the 1st runs with her time of 100.01 seconds. 26 year old Neave had also been the heat winner this season at both the Cardiff and Seu World Cup races. In both cases she finished on the podium in the final. The enormous shock was the exit of Austria’s 26 year-old Corinna Kühnle who came to Prague as reigning World Champion and one of the favourites. She posted a 98.66 second time but incurred a 50 second penalty on the downstream gate 21. She then put down a 100.95 quick second run but again was awarded a 50 second penalty for downstream gate 16. It will be the first time we have not seen her in a semi-final or final for some time and opens the field up to other athletes. She quickly left the venue. 15 nations placed boats in the 30 places which qualify for the semi-final on Saturday. These include Great Britain, Australia, Slovakia, Germany, Australia and Germany who all secured all three boats in the semi-final. Sadly, Ana Satila (BRA) was placed in 32nd just outside qualification. Japan’s 21 year old Aki Yazawa did qualify for the semi-final out-performing her team mate Yuriko Takeshita who had been 4th at the Beijing Olympics.

In C2 overall heat winner was Jarolsav Volf & Ondřej Štěpánek with 102.37 seconds clear. They led a Czech team lock out occupying first, second and third in the first runs and holding onto first and second with Ladislav & Peter Skantar (SVK) stealing third place at the conclusion to second runs. Impressive. Notable too, that Volf & Štěpánek have announced their retirement following these Worlds. Good way to go out. The semi-final comprises 9 nations, all European, with Czech Republic, Slovakia, France, Germany and Poland all qualifying three boats for the semi-final tomorrow. Charles Correa & Anderson Oliveira (BRA) placed 22nd and failed to make the cut.

This afternoon’s racing then stepped up a gear with the semi-finals in C1M and K1M. The commentator and grandstand crowd grew louder and louder as the semi-finals progressed. The course designed by Olympic Champion Thomas Schmidt from Germany was exceptionally tough and worthy of a World Championship standard test.

In the first semi-final, C1M, there was an audible gasp as Michal Martikán finished outside the top 10 and failed to make the cut into the final. Only once had he failed to be on the podium and few can recall a time when Martikán hasn’t been in the final. The overall winner of the semi-final was deservedly Sideris Tasiadis who looked on sensational form and finishes in 104.43 clear only 0.40 seconds ahead of reigning World champion Denis Gargaud Chanut from France. The C1M final is made up of 7 nations of which the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Slovakia each have two boats. There are no boats from outside Europe.

In the K1M semi-final that followed, we were dumb struck to see Molmenti, then Schubert and then Kauzer fail to make the cut for the final. This is significant because Daniele Molmenti (ITA) is the reigning Olympic and former Wold Champion, Peter Kauzer (SLO) is the double reigning World champion and Sebastian Schubert (GER) is the newly crowned 2013 World Cup champion who has shown such superb consistency all season. The overall semi-final winner was another German Hannes Aigner from Augsburg who delivered a confident 95.42 seconds clear and 0.71 seconds ahead of Mateusz Polaczyk from Poland. The K1M final will be made up of 8 nations including Germany and Czech Republic with two boats and one boat each from North & South America. The event ended with local heat winner Vavřinec Hradilek (CZE) awarded a 50 second penalty on gate 16. After video review the 50 second penalty was removed and he finished 5th. Rising star of the day for me was 20 year old Joe Clarke (GBR) who at his first senior World Championships goes into the final 6th after a confident 2nd in the heat. The final will contain two former World Champions in the form of Fabien Lefevre (USA) and Fabian Dörfler (GER)

So still to come from Troja

Saturday September 14th Semi-final C1W, final C1W, C1M & K1M. Teams C1W, C1M & K1M

Sunday September 15th K1W & C2 semi-final & final. Teams K1W & C2

I will be live tweeting @gregiej which you can follow on the www.sportscene.tv/liveresults page or search #slalomtroja. Slalom World were posting a rather interesting gate analysis http://www.slalomtroja.com/gates/ showing on which gates paddlers were incurring both 2 second and 50 second penalties.

Praha Worlds Day 1 review

John Gregory – @gregiej – We were treated to an impressive opening ceremony at Divaldo Hybernia theatre in Prague on Wednesday night. It was a great celebration of 100 years of Czech canoeing heritage. While we were in awe of the acrobats I am sure they think the same looking at the paddlers tackling the Troja whitewater.
I am working on a series of special features for Sportscene.tv and a full review of the World Championships will be posted on Monday. There are some great pictures and video interviews from today’s racing posted on the ICF website, Facebook pages and national association sites.
I am staying at Hotel Troja up the hill from the course together with many athletes including the team from Brazil. We Sportscene articles will include an article looking at the Brazilian team and hopefully the Japanese team. How these teams are evolving and what to expect from them as they each in turn prepare to host the Olympics.
New ICF rankings were posted after the last World Cup race and actually will be revised again next week after the completion of the World championships. Jessica Fox (AUS) is understandably now World ranked no.1 in C1W, Olympic and World Cup champion Émilie Fer (FRA) is now World no.1 in K1W, while Pierre Labarelle & Nicolas Peschier (FRA) are now World No.1 in C2 displacing Pavel and Peter Hochschorner (SVK). Etienne Daille (FRA) remains K1M ICF World ranked no.1 as does Tony Estanguet (FRA) in C1M even though he has retired! Anyone notice a strong French connection here?

Triple Olympic Champion Tony Estanguet in the flesh at Prague 2013

Today we had the qualification heats of K1M, C1M and C1W in that order.
In K1M overall heat winner was Vavřinec Hradilek with a sensationally quick first run of 84.69 seconds clear. 20 nations placed boats in the 40 places which qualify for the semi-final on Friday afternoon. These include Czech Republic, Germany, USA, Australia, Italy, Slovenia and France who all secured all three boats in the semi-final. I was really impressed to see Team USA with 19 year old Michal Smolen in 3rd, Fabien Lefevre in 7th and Richard Powell in 12th. Pedro Da Silva took the penultimate spot in the semi-final. Daniele Molmenti (ITA) pulled back from 37th after first runs and Etienne Daille (FRA) from 39th. Although Ben Hayward and John Hastings from Canada made the cut, former World Champion David Ford, 46, was just not quick enough.
In C1M overall heat winner was Benjamin Savšek (SLO) who had also been the heat winner of the World Cup final in Bratislava. 18 nations placed boats in the 30 places which qualify for the semi-final on Friday afternoon. These include Slovenia, Great Britain and Czech Republic who secured all three boats in the semi-final. Takuya Haneda (JPN) placed 12th. Mark Proctor (GBR) had a fast first run to be the early leader before slipping to 7th and then nailed an even more impressive 2nd run to finish second 1.44 behind Savšek’s first run of 91.58 seconds clear. Reigning World Champion Denis Gargaud Chanut had to pull out a strong second run to secure a place in the semi-final. Jan Benzien (GE) was unable to go clear and was the surprise exit at this stage.
In C1W overall heat winner was Kateřina Hošková (CZE) with a second run a mere 0.37 seconds quicker than Jessica Fox’s first run. 11 nations placed boats in the 20 places which qualify for the semi-final on Saturday morning. These included Great Britain, Germany and Australia who secured all three boats in the semi-final. Ana Satila, 17, from Brazil comfortably secured a spot in the semi-final. Great Britain placed all three C1W in the top 9.

So still to come from Troja
Friday September 13th Qualification heats K1W and C2. Semi-final C1M & K1M
Saturday September 14th Semi-final C1W, final C1W, C1M & K1M. Teams C1W, C1M & K1M
Sunday September 15th K1W & C2 semi-final & final. Teams K1W & C2

Working on Sportscene articles in the Prague media centre
Working on Sportscene articles in the Prague media centre

I will be live tweeting @gregiej which you can follow on the www.sportscene.tv/liveresults page or search #slalomtroja

GB Canoe Slalom Final Selection Event – Lee Valley April 27 – 28

This weekend (April 27-28) at Lee Valley marks the exciting culmination of the GB Canoeing Canoe Slalom Selection Trials series 2013. Last year’s selection races were tremendously exciting at this wonderful Lee Valley White Water Centre in Herfordshire, which was the venue for the state of the art Olympic canoe slalom. You saw some of the paddlers including gold and silver medalists in C2 competing in the Olympics and after the first two selection events this final selection trial is looking very tight. The two days of selections decide the GB Canoeing team for the 2013 World Championships, World Cup series, European Championships and U23 championships.

More details are available from the GB Canoeing website, where you can find links to buy tickets, or through the home nation websites. Tickets will be available at the venue.

I will be bringing you live results here as well as through the Sportscene.tv and International Canoe Federation Cardiff World Cup website

Great Britain's Richard Hounslow in K1M focussed on advancing to the semi-finals (photo courtesy of Michael Barnett)
Great Britain’s Richard Hounslow in K1M focussed on advancing to the semi-finals (photo courtesy of Michael Barnett)


“They are loving the sessions!” – Lee Valley Legacy Takes Off

Abridged article here, for the full story see Sportscene – Judging from early feedback the Lee Valley Legacy project experience is really inspiring a next generation of canoe slalom paddlers.  The youngsters share the venue with GB Canoeing athletes, who have gone the extra mile to make them welcome.

“I have a young man who is totally blown away by the session and his Coach. Inspired would be an understatement”

Twenty-six young paddlers have now had Canoe Slalom coaching at the Hertfordshire venue, from 14 different clubs. It is the first stage of the sport’s London Olympic Legacy plans organised by GB Canoeing in cooperation with Canoe England, the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority and local canoe clubs. The project aims to generate interest in Canoe Slalom amongst paddlers, aged nine to 16, and as expected the bulk of numbers has come from local clubs.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” said Mike Chandler, lead coach for the first sessions.  “I’m not saying we’re going to get an Olympic Champion out of this group of kids, but we have seen many who have real potential for slalom competition. Seven of our regular young paddlers have taken part in the first local Division 3/4 slalom event with their club, with one gaining promotion to Division 3.”

The Lee Valley Legacy Project has already gone quickly off the start line and into the first gate sequences…


London2012: The Real Legacy has Begun

A GB Canoeing sponsored initiative to inspire the next generation of Canoe Slalom paddlers has started at the Olympic Lee Valley venue just north of London. Here is a taster of what the initiative aims to achieve and how the first sessions have gone.

Here is the link to the latest article posted on Sportscene website

Last night was the 2nd Wednesday session, third overall on the Legacy Channel at Lee Valley with the 9-16 year old aspiring new slalom paddlers.

GB Canoeing Canoe Slalom Club Coaching sessions
GB Canoeing Canoe Slalom Club Coaching sessions