In September we ran a 4 week ‘Start Slalom’ course for our younger members giving them a chance to try racing in slalom – and I think we can say it was a success!!
The juniors taking up the challenge were Cameron, Olivia and Ben Kirk, Jonny Benson and Elliot Wood. Stretching the ‘junior’ part of the course was Paul Wood with the view that “if Elliot is racing I might as well have a crack”.
After 2 weeks of trying slalom boats and coaching at the club we headed off the might river Don in Oughtibridge, Sheffield for a first ever slalom race. The ideal place to start races with gentle moving water, but tricky none the less. there were great performances all round, with Olivia, Ben and Paul coming away with promotion to Divison 3 at their first race. Although he hadn’t done the training sessions Alex, Jonny’s younger brother also gave racing a go and put in a creditable performance. Sunday brought a second race, and this time Paul came through for promotion too.
Along side the ‘start slalom’ sessions we also put on junior slalom training to support those juniors already racing. So also racing at Oughtibridge were Ewan and Patrick Neville, Stephen and Colin McMahon (another stretching the junior tag). all of whom came through with improved results both days. Joining the HXCC throng on the river and bank was old hand Brian Dunn demonstrating clean if not quick runs throughout the weekend.
Back to training for another 2 weeks at the club – and on to the next race at West Tanfield where desperately low river levels made for a technical and rock dodging course. Fired up by seeing their pals promoted previously, Elliot and Jonny put their game faces on and grabbed promotion in Saturday’s race, While Cameron clinched promotion in Sunday’s race to make it 6 promotions out of 6 for those who started the course in September!! More importantly everyone was having fun, and giving it their best shot!
Again the ranks of Div 3 were swelled by the HXCC possie taking good points each day, but top dog was Stephen McMahon who put in a second and a first to add to good race in Sheffield clinching promotion to Division 2, and raising the bar for the rest of the squad to aim at next season.
But there was time to squeeze one more race out of the season. So mid-October some the squad at Wagon Lane, Bingley where heavy overnight rain pushed up the river levels for a very challenging course that tested everyone, and all showed great effort (and a bit of bravery at times) to complete the course.
A big thanks to all the Mums and Dads for taking them to training and events, and for the very loud cheering. Also to team photographer Stuart Vidler – have a look at his pictures here. (and for the photos used on this page).
Where next? Well the squad are training though the winter with Les and Sarah on a Thursday, plus the odd weekend session and hopefully joining in some Yorkshire region weekends. So hopefully we will hit the ground running when the 2014 slalom season starts!
We’ll be running another Junior Start Slalom course in the New Year to tie in to some races early in the new season – contact Les Ford if you are interested (firstname.lastname@example.org or 01484 854099).