Back in 1988, one of my first kayaking instructors said, 'If you ever have a chance to paddle a slalom course, you should take it. It's a great way of improving your skills.' Just the next year, I took my Dancer up to Husum Days, back when they hung a course starting right below the Falls and ending by Rattlesnake Creek. My best time of 3:24 put me in the middle of the pack, but I was astounded to see Steve U'Ren, in a race boat, run the course clean in 2:03. Then I was more astounded to see him hop in a Dancer and run 2:14, still faster than the second fastest race boat. Since then, I've paddled slalom courses roughly once a year, and it has really helped me keep my skills tuned up.
This weekend, each of us has an opportunity to paddle the slalom course set at Roaring River. While the river is just class 2 in this section, running all the gates will require making moves typical of a class 3 rapid.
Paul Kuthe is holding a slalom clinic on Saturday, where you can develop or hone your precision paddling skills. These skills will carry over to all aspects of your paddling.
Sunday there will be the timed events. Many people seem reluctant to enter these, but I want to say that it's very worthwhile. I'll never come in first, but I challenge myself to run all the gates cleanly, hopefully in a stylish way.
Hope to see you there!