Trade in your krazy karpets and GT Snow Racers for a more extreme way of sledding – in a kayak.
Using a freshly-waxed kayak and paddles, snow kayaking has taken a spin on the traditional warm-weather sport and reconstructed it into an exhilarating recreational activity.
Usually practiced on ski slopes, the smooth wax on the bottom of the kayak sends participants down the hill at extreme speeds using the paddles to steer.
Though the concept is relatively new in North America, the sport was invented in 2002 by a group of Austrian kayakers, where since 2007; the country even ran its own world championship of the activity.
The creativity doesn’t end there either. During the winter months, kayaker Alex Maggs jazzes up her in-pool practice sessions with University of Ottawa’s newly formed kayak polo club.
“It’s like water polo, but you’re in kayaks. So you have a paddle you have a ball and you score goals…though speedos are optional,” laughs Maggs as she admits she’s learning the rules herself.
This past summer, Maggs tried out and made Canada’s freestyle kayaking team, after much encouragement from her friends and family to take her skills to a more professional level.
“It’s a lot of pressure,” says Maggs. “People would tell me “you’re good” but you don’t believe them until you actually compete and get results.”
Fellow kayak enthusiast and club president Alberto Martel believes Maggs has kayaking in her blood, admiring how she runs big rapids. “She does them with style, clean lines and makes them look easy.”
Most of all Maggs enjoys the recreational and social aspect of kayaking and the cross-variations of the activities with club members.
“There’s so many people I’ve met through kayaking that you carry on trying new activities with like skiing and snowboard,” says Maggs.
The international freestyle kayak world championships will be happening right here on the Ottawa River this September.