Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Marcel Vander Wier

A SUMMER TRADITION – Paddlers clamber to get back into their rafts after flipping them in the Whitehorse Rapids during the Yukon Canoe and Kayak Club’s Whitewater Rodeo.

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Photo by Marcel Vander Wier

TOGETHER AGAIN – Brothers Lawrence (top) and Joel Brennan play in the spin wave beneath the Rotary Centennial Bridge after winning the downriver race at the 2014 Whitewater Rodeo.

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Photo by Marcel Vander Wier

WORKING HARD – Lawrence Brennan grimaces as he loses his position in the spin wave near the Whitehorse Dam.

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Photo by Marcel Vander Wier

ALL WET – Derrick Law performs a crowd-pleasing trick routine during last night’s Whitewater Rodeo.

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Photo by Marcel Vander Wier

GETS IN THERE – Sean Stark attempts a spin move in intermediate competition.

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Photo by Marcel Vander Wier

SWIMMER – A kayaker keeps a close watch on a paddler who lost his boat during competition last night.

Whitewater paddlers empty the trick bucket at rodeo

Whitehorse’s whitewater kayak community was out in full force last night.

By Marcel Vander Wier on August 21, 2014

Whitehorse’s whitewater kayak community was out in full force last night.

Spectators crowded onto the Rotary Centennial Bridge to take in the tricks and talents of the Yukon Canoe and Kayak Club’s paddlers during the annual Whitewater Rodeo.

Kayakers of all ages and abilities performed their top tricks in the Yukon River’s famous spinwave, and also participated in a variety of races downriver – including the much-loved raft flip race.

In the winning raft were Rory Gibson, Emmalee Agnew, Will Rees, Will O’Brien, Stew Dempsey and Connor Oliver-Beebe.

Brendan Zrum beat out the Brennan brothers – Lawrence and Joel – to win the advanced freestyle category.

Zrum’s first of three 30-second runs in the spin wave proved to be enough to win the division.

“It was smooth and had all the stuff in there all linked together,” the 25-year-old explained. “It just came together and afterwards I thought ‘That might be it right there.’

“I was able to link everything together, move from one trick to another and increase the difficulty. I started off with a regular spin to a clean spin to a cartwheel to a loop to a Godzilla.”

Having a large crowd on the bridge overlooking the wave gave the paddlers a jolt of energy, Zrum admitted.

“When you hear people up there cheering and yelling, you’re like: ‘OK, I’m going to stick something big.’ Having people around cheering and making noise – it makes all the difference.”

Sean Stark was surprised to learn he won the intermediate freestyle division. The event organizer thought second-place finisher Derrick Law had him beat by a mile.

“I don’t know. I’d have to look at the scoresheets and see how I actually did it, because I was kind of surprised,” the 43-year-old admitted.

“It’s kind of an end-of-year thing,” said Stark of the event, which he said dates back 22 years.

“It’s a fun get together. It’s not the Stanley Cup, so to speak. Everyone’s just in it to have fun.”

Eleven-year-old Hunter Vincent earned victory in the beginner category. Vincent paddled for four years before entering his first rodeo.

“This is my first year going in the spin wave,” he said. “I just find it really fun ... I think my win was just about the luck I had.”

He said if third-place finisher Victor Thibeault would have been able to pull off a spin in the wave, he may have claimed the title.

Despite losing out to Zrum in the freestyle event, the Brennan brothers teamed up to win the downriver race in a tandem kayak.

The duo actually flipped in the rapids before emerging upright and continuing on to the win.

Younger brother Joel, 20, is a former national team member, competing at the junior world championships in Germany in 2011.

Now working in Fort McMurray, he isn’t out on the river near as much these days.

“It was good to get back in a kayak and play around a bit,” he said. “This is one of the things I miss most of all about the Yukon.”

Yukon Energy helped paddlers up the ante by allowing more water through the dam – reportedly rushing at a rate of 450 cubic metres per second. The weather also cooperated, with the clouds breaking for some rare sunshine while the water’s temperature measured in at 15 degrees.


Boogie Board (Junior)

1. Luanda Pronovost
2. Emma Boyd
3. Anais Aildes

Boogie Board (Senior)

1. Malwina Bukszowana
2. Isabelle Gagnon

Beginner Kayak Freestyle

1. Hunter Vincent
2. Austin Shaw
3. Victor Thibeault

Intermediate Kayak Freestyle

1. Sean Stark
2. Derrick Law
3. Richard Zebrouck

Advanced Kayak Freestyle

1. Brendan Zrum 2. Lawrence Brennan
3. Joel Brennan

Downriver Race

1. Joel, Lawrence Brennan
2. Jason Zrum
3. Brendan Zrum

Raft Flip Race

1. Rory Gibson’s team
2. Kevin Daffe’s team
3. David Johnson’s team

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