Air Loops, Cartwheels, MacNastys and even Phoenix Monkeys meant nothing at Leaside’s first ever Fun Rodeo - you could be the biggest air grabbing, wild spinning, boat throwing paddler in the country and still lose this freestyle event!
The event was held by Leaside at the Lee Valley White Water Centre and sponsored by Brookbank Canoes London on Saturday 14th Jan 2012. A total of 32 young kayakers representing 10 clubs participated in the event. For many it was their first time to use the White Water Centre before it is closed to the public in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games.
So what is a Fun Rodeo? A standard Freestyle Competition consists of kayakers using technical moves to show off their skills whilst surfing on a river feature. The harder the move is to perform , the higher the points rewarded. At a Fun Rodeo the points are reversed! Simpler moves score high points, where high end professional moves get little or no points. Paddlers receive high points for just having fun and entertaining the crowd. Give a kiss to crowd, a wave to the judges and for really big points try swimming for everyone’s entertainment. The idea is to create an event where young people of all abilities can compete together.
Rodeo is what Freestyle Competitions were called back when playboats were 12 feet long. For many of the moves performed it was just like the old days. Paddle spins, rail grabs, strutter rudders and air guitars were among the common moves seen on the day. Even with many of the young paddlers confused over the idea of the Fun Rodeo, it didn’t stop them using their imagination to entertain the crowd.
We had joke telling from one paddler, gift offerings of a mars bar to the judges from another and, the move everyone on the day will remember for the rest of their lives, a headstand in a kayak on moving water. Young Kit Lee stole the show for many as he performed his signature move just 5 minutes into the competition. Many of the paddlers really started to think outside the box after seeing this young paddler’s efforts.
The Male Junior competition was won by Kim Hollman(11), a young paddler who entertained the judges with his comic facial expressions and his attempts at standing up in his kayak whilst on the wave. The Male Seniors was won by Dean Horrell (15), who bet off the competition by one final wave to the judges on his final attempt. The Female category was hard to judge but the crowd were happy with Emiley Smith(14), the only female to participate, taking the prize. The prize for “Spirit of the Fun Rodeo” had to go to Kit Lee after his impressive moves and attitude for the day.
A note of congratulations and gratitude to all paddlers who bared the cold winter air and water to compete in the Rodeo. It was far from a warm day at the White Water Centre but that didn’t dampen the spirits for the paddlers and spectators.
Watch this space as The Leaside Fun Rodeo will return - bigger and better than ever!
Click Here to see more pictures from last year