Bald Eagle Area High School senior Alden Henrie won the gold medal in the U23 men’s single canoe class at the U.S. Whitewater Slalom Team Trials in Oklahoma City. He also qualified for the world championships this summer in Krakow, Poland. Henrie will also be participating in the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.
Some of these accomplishments, however, aren’t something new for Henrie. He said he has already competed in the Junior/U23 World Championships twice before, as the first alternative in 2017 in Bratislava, Slovakia and as the third-placed boat on the U.S. Junior National Team last year in Ivrea, Italy.
Our public relations specialist had the time to connect with Henrie about his accomplishments and plans for the future of the sport.
Question: How did you get into this sport?
Answer: I was first exposed to paddling when I was 4 years old when my mother took me to the Red Moshannon Downriver Race for the first time. She went to the race while on duty for the Sierra Club Moshannon Group, documenting the affects the race has on the local economy. At some point she found my attention fixated upon the paddlers during their warm-up routines before the race and asked me if I wanted to try paddling. My initial response at the time was, ‘No mom, too scary.’ That being said, we went back the following year -- my mother once again representing the Sierra Club Moshannon Group and documenting the race -- and I happened to ask if there were lessons for paddling. My mother decided that I needed to learn how to swim first, and I spent the next two (to) three years learning how to swim. Eventually, I pressured my parents into letting my try paddling at age 8. Though I wasn't initially interested in racing at that age, I was convinced to participate in my first race by age 9 and I've been paddling in canoe slalom races ever since.
Q: Congratulations on your recent accomplishments. This must be really exciting! What emotions are you going through?
A: Given that I am in my first year in the U23 age group, my victory in C1 U23 came as somewhat surprising given my main competition had already been racing at the U23 level for a couple of years. My race runs were not exactly satisfactory for my standards, however, I managed to have a stronger overall performance across the three competition days than those who finished behind me. Consistency is ultimately key when racing for selection to the U.S. Slalom Team, regardless of which category one may be racing in. As for the prospect of competing at the 2019 ICF Junior/U23 Canoe Slalom World Championships in Krakow, Poland, it certainly feels great, though it is not a new feeling. I have already competed in the Junior/U23 World Championships twice before, as the first alternative in 2017 in Bratislava, Slovakia and as the third-placed boat on the U.S. Junior National Team last year in Ivrea, Italy. I would like to think having this experience in my racing resume will help me perform to the higher standards demanded by U23 competition.
Q: How do you plan to prepare for the other upcoming events?
A: In the immediate future, I will focus on domestic events in both slalom and other canoeing disciplines. Though no major national level events in slalom will be held before I travel to Poland, I will travel to amateur level slalom races throughout the New England and Mid-Atlantic regions to stay in racing shape. I have also began experimenting with wildwater canoeing, a discipline which essentially functions as a canoe sprint race in whitewater rapids. As the U.S. Wildwater Team is currently short on members for the senior level, (and) with the U.S. hosting ICF Wildwater World Cup and World Championships events in the next couple of years, I sense an excellent opportunity for cross-training and competing within both slalom and wildwater with mutual benefits between the two.
*Photo provided by Eric Francis