Extreme slalom one step closer to Olympics

The International Canoe Federation is one step closer to adding extreme canoe slalom to the Olympic program after a virtual board meeting on Tuesday.

The ICF Board voted to include men’s and women’s extreme slalom on its proposal for the Paris 2024 canoe program as it strives to continue to innovate and to deal with a reduction of Olympic quota places.

Extreme slalom is a relatively new discipline to canoe, but it’s thrilling head-to-head format has attracted new fans and strong television ratings since its introduction to the ICF world cups and world championship programmes.

The addition of the new discipline on the Olympic schedule would not require any extra athlete quotas, with many of the canoe slalom competitors likely to also contest the extreme competition.

As the IOC has indicated no new medal events will be added to the Paris 2024 program, the ICF board voted to put a proposal to transfer two medals from the canoe sprint program, and add the two medals to extreme slalom.

ICF President Jose Perurena said it was a tough call to make but the timing for a change to the Olympic program for canoe was right.

“This decision allows the ICF to keep its core strengths, and at the same time bring innovation and diversity to the 2024 Olympic program,” he said.

“Extreme slalom can be part of our sport’s future, and we know it will be a great fit in the Olympic Games.

“It’s fast, popular with athletes and spectators alike, and comes across very well on television. It sits nicely inside the IOC brief to introduce new, adrenalin-charged events that appeal to younger audiences.”

Extreme slalom also fits the IOC’s requirement for sports to strive for more value out of their venues. It will be contested on the canoe slalom course, and add extra days to the slalom Olympic schedule.

The ICF board will now examine options regarding the canoe sprint Olympic program. If the new proposal is accepted by the IOC, it will give canoe sprint ten medals and canoe slalom six medals at the 2024 Olympics.

The ICF board also announced two host cities for world championships next year. The 2021 ICF junior and U23 canoe slalom world championships will be held in Ljubljana, Slovenia, from July 6-11, and the 2021 ICF junior and U23 wildwater canoeing championships will be held in Solkan, also in Slovenia, from August 25-28.