Reaume focused on next level

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Sitting in St. Jean Baptiste Park displaying the two gold and one silver medal she earned at the recent Alberta Summer Games, Morinville kayaker Kassandra Reaume already has her eyes set on the next level of competition as she works her way ever downstream towards learning new skills and improving the ones she has.

Reaume returned to Morinville this week from the games and leaves Friday for a week-long kayaking camp on the Red Deer River. Although her focus is now on the next level of her athletic career, she is pleased to have been a part of the Summer Games this year.

Prior to leaving for the games, Miss Reaume didn’t think it was that big a deal, but the largeness of the opening ceremonies and being among so many young Alberta athletes made her truly aware she was part of something special.

“It was a good feeling to be a part of that because being one of the athletes and being in that felt like it was a mini Olympics,” Miss Reaume said of the opening ceremonies. “There was all these kids, and they lit a torch and stuff. It was really cool.”

Kassandra Reaume navigates a gate during slalom competitions during the Alberta Summer Games. – Submitted Photo

But while the opening ceremony was special, her fondest memories are of the actual competition itself. The young kayaker’s team fell one point short of medals standing in the team polo event; however, that disappointment, if there was any, was quickly replaced by a gold medal in slalom.

“It was harder than I thought it was when we got there,” Miss Reaume said of the slalom course. “There’s a little part of the river that’s called Boulder Run, and there was these huge boulders with white water around them. And there were 15 gates. Some you had to go through and some you had to turn around, go up stream, and them come through. It was pretty tough.”

But the 12-year-old athlete navigated the gates without missing one – not once but on two consecutive runs. Her first run through the course put her in the lead position, but only by seconds, a situation that put the pressure on during her second run at the course. But that was forgotten when her paddle hit the water.

“When you got on the course you just totally forgot about it, and were keeping focus on just running it properly and not clipping gates or missing gates,” Miss Reaume said, adding she clipped three gates but did not miss any on either run.

Reaume placed silver in the three-person event. – Submitted Photo

Reaume’s second medal was a silver in a team race that put two kayaks and one canoe in the water, a more difficult competition because passing through gates was combined with precision timing for the three vessels in order that all would cross the finish line with no more than 15 seconds between first and last vessel.

“That was a lot harder because you had to wait,” Miss Reaume said of she and her two male team mates. “There’s one in front and they follow two seconds apart. You’d all have to go in the gates together, and you’d have to be a second apart. It was hard because … they had 15 seconds to be apart or else you were disqualified.”

As lead in the event in the fastest boat, Miss Reaume had to often hold her own position so as to keep the appropriate gap between her and her team mates.

Although placing silver in the event, the young athlete said she was not disappointed with the second place finish. Instead, she and her team were pleased to have placed so well in medal standings.

Reaume earned another gold in the downriver canoe competition. – Submitted Photo

Miss Reaume’s final medal was another joint effort, this time in a 2.2 kilometre downriver canoe event with a partner from her Edmonton-based kayaking club.

“It was sort of hard because there wasn’t much current on that river,” she said, adding a fellow competitor had chided her and her partner the night before that they would not succeed. “It was really slow, just like a lake. Our strategy was to just sprint the whole way and ignore the pain.” The strategy paid off and earned the duo another gold.

[SUBHEAD]Moving forward

Freshly back from her triple-medal victory, the local athlete is not pausing to sit among her silver and gold. Miss Reaume leaves Friday for a week-long trip on the Red Deer River. “It’s training and just doing it for fun, learning skills on the river,” she said.

But part of the week of paddling could be spent on the Kananskis River. After taking gold in slalom, Miss Reaume and some of her club members were invited to a cup race on the Kanaskis at the beginning of September. “That will be a big step up because that river is a lot harder,” she said. “I’m not sure if I’m going to do it yet because I may not be ready, but we’re going to take one day out of the Red Deer River and just go up and hopefully get in some training to know what we are getting into.”

The Red Deer River camp is focused on white water training. The lower level of the river in August affords an opportunity for the development of more technical skills, including understanding strong eddy lines and using current to manoeuvre across river.

Top left: Morinville athlete Kassandra Reaume poses with the three medals she earned in the Alberta Summer Games. Miss Reaume left for a week-long kayaking camp Friday in order to advance her skills in the sport even further. – Stephen Dafoe Photo