The canoe slalom events at the Olympic Games combine speed, stamina, and immense concentration. Those who compete in the event attempt to navigate rapids and currents flowing at up to 13 cubic meters per second, all while crossing gates and racing to the finish line.
Olympic Canoe Slalom During the 1970s
The high-intensity sport of canoe slalom has a relatively short history when it comes to the Olympic Games. In 1970, the International Olympic Committee voted to include the sport at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. That year, four total events -- three men's and one women's -- were contested, and East German athletes won gold medals in each of the events.
During the next IOC session, held in August of 1972, IOC members voted to remove the sport from the Olympic program. Thus, the sport would not be contested again in the Olympic Games for 20 years.
Canoe Slalom is Reintroduced into the 1992 Olympic Program
By 1988, the IOC had decided to include more sports in the Olympic program in an attempt to grow the popularity of the Olympic Games. At the IOC session in September of 1988, the IOC voted to again include canoe slalom at the Olympic Games.
The sport was contested again at the 1992 Olympic Games, and it has remained a part of the Olympic program ever since. Three men's events and one women's event have been held at each subsequent Olympic Games.
Historic Olympic Canoe Slalom Winners
With a total of seven Olympic gold medals, Slovakia has been the most dominant country when it comes to canoe slalom at the Olympic Games. Athletes from the country have also claimed two silver medals and one bronze medal.
The most decorated male Olympic slalom paddlers are Slovakian brothers Pavol and Peter Hochshorner, who won gold medals at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games in the C-2 event. On the women's side, Slovakian Elena Kaliska won gold medals in the K-1W event at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. Stepanka Hilgertova of the Czech Republic also won gold medals at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games in the same event.
Sandra Johnson is a longtime Olympic fan. While working for the United States Olympic Committee and living in the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Johnson had the opportunity to immerse herself in the Olympic Movement. Follow her on Twitter: @SandraJohnson46.