Rio 2016 Olympians Cam Smedley and Michael Tayler are leading Team Canada into the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships which got underway on Tuesday in Pau, France.
In all, five men and four women will represent the maple leaf in canoe, kayak and team events in southwestern France.
After team events were in the spotlight on Tuesday, Wednesday will bring with it the start of the events that will be part of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic program.
The women’s C-1, which will make its Olympic debut three years from now, will see Lois Betteridge and Haley Daniels in action. Betteridge, who is in her second senior season, will try to gain experience in international waters while Daniels, a bronze medallist at Toronto 2015, is looking to make a breakthrough on the global stage.
The men’s K-1 also gets underway on Wednesday. Five-time Olympian David Ford, who was the world champion in 1999 and finished fourth at Athens 2004, is now 50 and taking his last paddles in the Team Canada colours as he contemplates retirement. Tayler, a two-time Olympian himself, intends to continue his progression up the world rankings with an eye on Tokyo 2020.
Betteridge, the only female member of the national team to compete in both types of boats, will go down the Pau course on Thursday in the women’s K-1 event. Florence Maheu and Jessica Groeneveld will also be in the start gate.
That day will also see Smedley, Yannick Laviolette and Spencer Pomero on the water in the men’s C-1 event. The highest ranked Canadian canoeist, Smedley hopes to reach the final round after advancing to several semifinals on the World Cup circuit this season.
On Tuesday, Smedley, Pomero and Laviolette competed in the men’s team canoe event. They all hit the water at the same time in this non-Olympic event, aiming to complete the course as fast as they can with the clocking stopping when the last canoe crosses the finish line.
The trio of Maheu, Groeneveld and Betteridge competed in the women’s team kayak event. The first day of competition concluded with Smedley, Tayler and Ford in the men’s team kayak event.
Here is Team Canada’s full lineup in France:
Lois Betteridge – C-1, K-1, 3 x K-1
Hayley Daniels – C-1
Jessica Groeneveld – K-1, 3 x K-1
Florence Maheu – K-1, 3 x K-1
David Ford – K-1, 3 x K-1
Yannick Laviolette – C-1, 3 x C-1
Spencer Pomero – C-1, 3 x C-1
Cam Smedley – C-1, 3 x C-1, 3 x K-1
Michael Tayler – K-1, 3 x K-1