ASF hosts paracanoe clinic for veterans with disabilitiesSix veterans with disabilities participated in Adaptive Sports Foundation’s inaugural paracanoe camp in Lake Placid, NY on June 24-27, 2015. Paracanoe is canoeing for athletes with physical impairments. The sport is governed by the International Canoe Federation (ICF). ASF was able to hold this camp with funding from a Veterans Affairs Adaptive Sports Grant. Paracanoes are not your average canoes. The Va’a (single-hull outrigger canoe) is sleek, narrow and fast and has an ama (outrigger) which acts as a support float aiding in stability. The Va’a is propelled by a single blade paddle. Hopefully these boats will be part of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
Participants were also able to try out sprint kayaking during the camp. Again, not your average kayak, a sprint kayak requires great balance and skill to navigate. These boats are propelled by a double-blade paddle. For the first time, sprint kayaking will be part of the Paralympic Games. The USA Paralympic Kayak Team will participate in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. Adaptive Sports Foundation was able to purchase two Va’as as well as two Vajda sprint kayaks with our VA Adaptive Sports Grant funding so interested veterans will be able to continue training here in Windham.
During the camp our veterans were privileged to work with two of the best coaches in the country. Jan Whitaker is the founder of Cape Ability Outrigger Ohana and has more than 30 national championships to her name as a competitive paddler. Jan is a member of the Canoeing Hall of Fame. Debbie Page is the veteran coach of the US Paralympic and national teams with years of coaching under her belt. After the coaches took each veteran through the basic skill progression, one by one they ventured out onto Mirror Lake to test their balance and paddling skills.
The second training day brought perfect weather and the coaches decided to do a paddle around the perimeter of the lake. Everyone proved their athletic ability by successfully navigating the lake without a single boat tipping over; tipping is easy to do due to these boats’ sleek design. During a well-earned break, everyone took a tour of the ski jump complex where they rode the chairlift to the top of the landing hill and then rode an elevator to the top of the 120 meter ski jump. Luckily, some aerialists were training at the pool jumps so their flips and twists into the water were fun to see as well.
The last training day was just as nice, so another lap was made around the lake after which each veteran took one last opportunity to use their favorite boat. The day ended with a dinner in the village of Lake Placid followed by some shopping for Olympic souvenirs.