Two slalom paddlers set to make Olympic debuts at Paris 2024 

Team Canada will be represented in canoe/kayak slalom at Paris 2024 by a pair of paddlers making their Olympic debuts – Lois Betteridge and Alex Baldoni

Both of them qualified for Paris 2024 by winning their respective C-1 events at the 2024 COPAC Canoe Slalom Americas Olympic Qualifier in mid-March. They were also both medallists at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games. 

Betteridge came away from her second Pan Am Games with a pair of silver medals, having finished as the runner-up in women’s C-1 and women’s kayak cross. She had also won C-1 silver four years earlier at Lima 2019

Baldoni stood on the podium in Santiago after winning the silver medal in men’s kayak cross. That followed his fifth-place finish in the men’s C-1 event. 

In addition to competing in the C-1 events in which they earned their Olympic quota spots, Betteridge and Baldoni will also compete in the inaugural Olympic kayak cross competitions. Betteridge will also race the K-1.

A slalom canoer paddles towards green and white striped gates
Lois Betteridge competes in canoe/kayak slalom at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games (Dante Fernandez/SANTIAGO 2023 vis PHOTOSPORT)

Kayak cross is an exciting recent addition to international canoe/kayak slalom competitions. Whereas in the traditional C-1 and K-1 events paddlers race solo against the clock as they navigate through gates on a whitewater course, in kayak cross four paddlers race directly against each other to advance through knockout rounds. A mandatory 360-degree flip of their boat and incidental contact between boats makes it a thrilling experience.  

Hailing from Ottawa, Betteridge has been a member of the Canadian national team since 2015, when she was just 17 years old. She competed at her first senior ICF World Championships in 2017. In the days after earning her Olympic spot, Betteridge won K-1 gold and a second straight C-1 silver at the Pan American Championships. 

“I just returned from a training camp at the Olympic course in Paris and the venue is very impressive!” said Betteridge. “I’m really excited to see some of my friends and family sitting in the stands, cheering for Team Canada, in a country that is very passionate about canoeing. The energy at this event is going to be wild!”

Baldoni made his debut at the senior ICF World Championships in 2021, the same year he achieved Canada’s best-ever performance in men’s canoe at the ICF Junior World Championships by placing sixth. In 2023, he was a finalist in men’s C-1 at the ICF U23 World Championships, cracking the top 10. 

Alex Baldoni in action during the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games on the Aconcagua River on October 29 in Los Andes, Chile. (Foto de Dante Fernandez/Santiago 2023 vía Photosport)

Though born and raised in France, when Baldoni began competing internationally, he chose to represent his mother’s home country. While growing up, his family spent a month each year in Canada, giving him great appreciation for the country’s values, culture, and nature. 

“The last four years have been incredible, but also very hard while training. I have worked really hard and spent countless hours on the water trying to improve on every possible aspect, whether technical, psychological, physical preparation, relaxation and recovery,” said Baldoni. “Now I have finally qualified for my first Olympic Games! I am very much looking forward to experiencing such a great event and to becoming an Olympian!”

Canoe/kayak slalom during Paris 2024 will take place at the Vaires-sur-Marne Nautical Stadium, a complex that will also host canoe/kayak sprint and rowing. The Olympic competition will run from July 27 to August 5 (Days 1 to 10). 

Canoe/kayak slalom has been a fixture of the Olympic program since Barcelona 1992, following its debut 20 years earlier at Munich 1972. It was only at Tokyo 2020 that a women’s canoe event was included for the first time at the Olympic Games. 

Canada has never won an Olympic medal in canoe/kayak slalom, though two-time world championship medallist David Ford came closest with his fourth-place finish in the men’s K-1 event at Athens 2004.

Team Canada Canoe/Kayak Slalom Athletes at Paris 2024: 

Alex Baldoni (Pau, France) – Men’s C-1, Kayak Cross 

Lois Betteridge (Ottawa, Ont.) – Women’s C-1, K-1, Kayak Cross