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Canmore paddleboarder earns Easy Rider glory

"I Just paddled my heart out."

CANMORE – After an impressive debut in competitive standup paddleboarding (SUP), Canmore's Kirstin Zabos looks to make another splash at a local competition – if her body allows it.

Zabos finished second overall in the 13th annual Easy Rider SUP Cup woman’s category on Aug. 23 against 28 participants over nine-kilometres along the snaking North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton.

A little surprised to reach the podium in her debut, Zabos said she tried out her new racing board for the first time last week and she was a bit iffy on paddling in a competition after wrist surgery in February.

“I just paddled my heart out,” Zabos said. “In July, I decided to start taking it seriously as far as training goes … I didn’t paddle as much as I wanted to, like I know some people before races will paddle every single day. But if I got out a few times a week before the race that was good for me.”

As one of the only competitions to go down this summer in Alberta due to physical distancing and event limitations, Zabos said approximately 70 paddlers cruised the river, but the event's social aspects were absent this year. As well, the race was shortened from 18km due to city construction at its usual finish line.

"Which is maybe why I placed," Zabos said with a laugh.

The Canmorite has been paddleboarding leisurely for the past two years and said she wants to continue pursuing the competitive side of the sport.

Spending free time training at the Canmore reservoir, Zabos is hopeful for a quick return to competition at the Queen of the Valley SUP Race next weekend (Sept. 12) at Ghost Lake, west of Cochrane. However, it will depend on how a doctor checkup goes due to an injured wrist she had surgery on in February.

“Because of the race coming up next week, I thought I’d train every day and then I essentially blew a gasket,” she said.

“[The doctor] said ‘take it easy for the next few days, so it doesn’t get worse’ and I have to go for X-rays on the ninth just to make sure everything is kosher before the race that’s on the 12th.”

Two races are being held at the Queen of the Valley: the slalom short course with five, 1,000 metre heats and the Tour De Ghost, a 5,000m race.


Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

Jordan Small joined the Outlook in 2014 and covers the vast world of sports in the Bow Valley. A Barrie, Ont. native, he also wrote for RMO's Mountain Guide section and the MD of Bighorn beat.
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