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Boating
Boating: Native American dancers and a choir from South Africa entertained at the opening ceremonies for the 2012 International Canoe Federation Junior & U23 Canoe Slalom World Cahmpionships in Wausau, Tuesday, July 10, 2012.
Australian team members Alison Borrows, left, and Jessica Fox have their photo taken Tuesday as the whitewater teams from around the world walk from Whitewater Park to The 400 Block in downtown Wausau as part of the opening ceremonies for the 2012 International Canoe Federation Junior & U23 Canoe Slalom World Championships. / Dan Young/For Wisconsinoutdoorfun.com

Event schedule

The following is the schedule for the 2012 International Canoe Federation Junior & U23 Canoe Slalom World Championships in Wausau:

Today
9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. — qualifying runs

Thursday
9:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. — qualifying runs; 6:30 p.m. — demonstration runs for semifinals and final course

Friday
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — semifinal runs

Saturday
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — finals

Sunday
10 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. — finals; 3 p.m. — medal ceremony; 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. — closing ceremony and community party at Isle of Ferns Park, 500 River Drive, Wausau

Note: All events on Wisconsin River along River Drive in downtown Wausau unless otherwise noted. Schedule subject to change based on weather or other unforeseen conditions.

Source: Wausau Kayak/Canoe Corp.

Whitewater basics

Competitors are pitted not only against the raging water but against the clock. In most cases, a racer’s score is determined by the best of two runs.

There can be anywhere from 18 to 25 gates in the competition, decided by the course designer.
» The course is 250 meters long.
» Paddlers go through red gates upstream, green gates downstream.
» Paddlers can go through gates forward, backward or sideways.
» Penalty seconds are added to paddlers’ overall time for mistakes.
» Touching gate with paddle, body or boat:
2 seconds
» Passing gate in wrong direction, missing a gate, passing through a gate while rolling or while under water and pushing a pole to lessen a penalty: 50 seconds

Sources: Karla Westcott and International Canoe Federation Canoe Slalom Competition Rules 2011

More

Five days of intense competition now are under way after athletes and spectators from around the globe on Tuesday kicked off a canoe and kayak world championship event in Wausau.

The opening ceremonies for the 2012 International Canoe Federation Junior & U23 Canoe Slalom World Championships drew about 300 athletes from 27 countries and hundreds of onlookers. The athletes proudly waved their nations' flags in a parade from Whitewater Park in Wausau to The 400 Block in downtown.

There, they were greeted by residents and Mayor Jim Tipple, among others. The ceremonies included traditional South African songs, Native American dancers and a musical performance by a local trio, String Cheese.

Browse photos from the 2012 Canoe Slalom World Championships.

More on kayaking: Kayaking news from around the state | Your boating photos

Joanne Cole arrived in Wausau on Tuesday afternoon after a 24-hour trek from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Cole will cheer on her son, Adrian Cole, 19, who is here to compete in his second world championship event since he began full-time training at age 15. Joanne Cole said she and her son have been warmly welcomed by the community.

"I'm thrilled to see so many people from the city welcoming us. Everyone has been super friendly," she said. "I can't wait for the weekend, and for the chalk festival. It's very exciting for the athletes and for the families to have so many things to see and to do."

Chalkfest, a sidewalk chalk art festival that draws more than 200 artists each year to The 400 Block, is one of several events scheduled in the Wausau area this weekend.

Competition begins this morning and runs through Sunday, when medals are awarded to the best paddlers in several categories. Kelly Zagrzebski, a spokeswoman for the event, said both canoes and kayaks will compete this weekend for top honors.

Barb Oelke, a volunteer for Wausau Kayak/Canoe Corp., the local not-for-profit agency sponsoring the event, said this is the first time since 1994 a world championship event has been held in the community.

"Last year, eight countries were here for our races, but this year with athletes from 27 countries, it's even more wonderful for Wausau. People from all over the world are here," Oelke said. "It's absolutely amazing to walk around and hear so many different languages being spoken."

Competition is fierce at these events. Three of the competitors vying for a world title also will keep an eye toward London, and the lure of a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games. Americans Casey Eichfeld and Caroline Queen along with Jessica Fox of Australia have all qualified for the Olympics, which begins July 27. This week's competition wraps up Sunday with closing ceremonies and a community celebration at Isle of Ferns Park.

David Conrad of Wausau is a safety volunteer for Wausau Kayak/Canoe Corp. He will be on hand this weekend to help pull paddlers from the river if they are ejected from their boats.

"Hopefully, we won't have any occurrences like that. After all, these are the best boaters in the world," Conrad said. "No matter what happens, it's going to be a great week of racing."

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