Canada’s top slalom paddlers captured five medals at the Pan American Games in Los Andes, Chile yesterday.
Lois Betteridge (Ottawa, ON) secured Canada’s first slalom medal of the day in the women’s C1 event. Betteridge made quick work of a very challenging course and weather conditions in Río Aconcagua to secure the silver behind Brazil with a time of 119.69.
“I’m super stoked. This is my second Pan Am medal, as I also won a silver at the Pan Am Games in Lima,” shared Betteridge. “It would have been nice to finish in first but being second behind one of the best in the world is pretty exciting. It was a challenging course, there were not a lot of white-water features so you need to pull really hard to get some of the moves but I dug deep today and got the job done.”
Mael Rivard (Ottawa, ON) was next up on the podium in the men’s K1 event, securing the bronze medal behind USA and Brazil. “It was a really hard race, the course was pretty hard and very shallow but I really just went for it and it worked out.”
Léa Baldoni (Pau, France) also won bronze in the women’s K1 event with USA and Brazil taking gold and silver respectively. “There was a lot of fighting right until the end with some touch penalties but I still had the third fastest time of the day so I’m pretty happy to bring home a medal for Canada.”
The highly anticipated Kayak Cross events marked an exciting end to the Slalom competition with four boats simultaneously launching off a ramp, placed more than two metres above the water, splashing onto the course, and battling through the course as a full-contact sport.
Alex Baldoni (Pau, France) breezed through the semi-finals to fight in the finals against Brazil. Baldoni crossed the line in 2nd place, feeling redeemed from his disappointment of just missing the podium in the K1 event earlier that day.
“It was really hard after my K1 race to get back into focus for this race but my sister (Léa Baldoni) helped me a lot and she was there for me and that’s what makes the difference in the end,” he said.
“It wasn’t my best start off the ramp but it was really tight with Brazil and it was a very good fight so I’m really happy with this silver medal.”
Betteridge added another silver to her medal count in the women’s kayak cross event. She crossed the line in 4th, however, once the penalties were applied against her competitors, the outcome was a 5th medal for Canada. “To be able to stand on the podium twice today is pretty exciting. I met my goals here in Los Andes, which was to medal in both my categories. It feels unreal.”
Tokyo Olympian Florence Maheu (Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Que.) was unfortunately knocked out in the Kayak Cross time trials on Friday.
TEAM CANADA PAN AMERICAN SLALOM TEAM
Alex Baldoni (Pau, France) – C1 and Kayak Cross
Léa Baldoni (Pau, France) – K1 and Kayak Cross
Lois Betteridge (Ottawa, Ont.) – C1 and Kayak Cross
Florence Maheu (Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Que.) – Kayak Cross
Maël Rivard (Ottawa, Ont.) – K1 and Kayak Cross