Monday, June 2, 2008

Alberta Athletes Shaw and Dederer Shine at National Team Selection

The Alberta sun dove behind a cloud and driving rain and wind descended over the mighty Kananaskis river. But as Alberta junior athletes lined up at the start line of the final event of the 2008 Junior National Team Trials their eyes were steelier then the dark, swirling sky. The fire and lighting was captured in those eyes, first in young Marissa Dederer, who stormed down the course in the final run with aggression and power, outclassing her opponents to the line to take a scintillating victory in the Junior Women's event. Combined with solid performances in the two previous races 15 year old Dederer proved she will be a force in the Canadian slalom scene for many years to come. None of the older Junior women had displayed such consistency as the young Dederer who has 2 more years of Junior nomination before entering the senior division.

Matt Frank took note of Dederer's performance and, despite some controversial calls on his previous race that would have left most young paddlers a mess of nerves, Frank attacked with a fervor quite contrary to his quite demeanor. Frank cut the insanely tricky move through gates 4-5 like a diamond in butter, striking a blow to his opponents upstream who looked on in awe as they waited for their own starts. It was Frank and Dederer's best racing ever, and a timely strike when spots on the National Junior team were on the line. Frank was leading, fast and clean, and fear struck his competition. In costly moves of conservatism, rivals from Ontario and Quebec proceeded to spin the difficult move at gates 4-5 where "Frank the Tank" had been oh-so-bold-and-daring!

But it would be Shaw who would bring the final lightning strike. Almost blowing the move at 4-5 by apparently forgetting where he was going out of the exit of gate 3, Shaw used his dominant whitewater skills to pull off the direct line cleanly from a nail-bitingly late approach. A touched gate in the middle section added 2 seconds in penalty to his running time furthering the drama. But in trademark Shaw style Bryce attacked the upstreams, not so much turning his boat, but absolutely throwing it from entry to exit. In the final upstream sequence Shaw whipped the upstream gate 18 on a razor sharp backstroke taking seconds out of the competition, sealing the victory and earning him the third spot on the National Junior Team. For a boy who had just started training full time for slalom this past year, and had flown under the radar for his unorthodox paddling style, it was quite the upset to the Eastern slalom establishment!

Alberta athlete's Graham Jobe and Haley Daniels unfortunately didn't have the consistency over the three race selection and ended up ranked 7th and 9th overall in their respective classes. Both showed amazing ability, and will no doubt be bright future stars in Canadian slalom. Daniels was clearly the strongest paddler in her class with sharp turns, and mighty forward power. Racing practice will surely see her upsetting the senior national team when she advances to the senior "Olympic" class next year. Jobe still has another year of Junior nomination. With his power, and beautiful forward and neutral style we will no doubt be seeing him grace the top international ranks at the next Junior Worlds competition. This year was already a good start with a 3rd place finish in the first race of the team trial, matching teammate Frank's third in race three. As for the mighty hero of race three, "Frank the Tank" ended up combining a 3rd place finish in that third race with a 5th place finish in the 2nd race to end up ranked 5th overall and named to the National Development team. All three athletes will travel to the BIG SHOW this summer to race in major international junior competitions in Europe under the direction of coach Mike Holroyd. Kick butt and take names like you can Team Alberta!!!

So in summury, congrats to Marissa Dederer and Bryce Shaw for their nomination to the senior national team. For full team listing and eventual results please visit

This also served as an Alberta Team selection with representation from Roni and Idan Wolach, Adrian Cole, Jessie Gillies, Levi Steverston, and Brett Embleton. Everyone paddled quite well and I was greatly impressed with the determination of these young paddlers to jump into such a big competition first thing in the year! The following are named to the Provincial Team: Roni, Idan, Levi and Brett. Conrats! Jessie and Adrian, despite showing amazing potential, faced stifling competition from some of the best Alberta juniors we have produced in Matt, Graham and Bryce. Excellent paddling on both their parts couldn't quite reach the percentages laid out by their older counterparts. Adrian and Jessie will be named to the Provincial Development Team. I encourage everyone to attend all the events on the Alberta Development Program schedule that you will soon be receiving, or have already received. The program info and fees should have been sent with the schedule. Please contact me, Connor Curson, at kayakercon(at) or 403-401-4601. I will also send out information about team uniforms soon.

THANK YOU! THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!!! to all the volunteers, organizers, sponsors, and supporters who made this event an extremely well run race! And congratulations to All the Alberta athletes who participated-- This writer for one was VERY impressed by the level of paddling from out top athletes. Keep committed and find a way to make it happen and you will be in for a wonderful adventure through slalom paddling!

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