With the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games happening and Canada’s Laurence Vincent-Lapointe winning the first Pan Am gold awarded to a woman in sprint canoe, Chrissy Wessman, talks paddling because she realizes the skills in team boats help prepare for success in a corporate environment.
One of the reasons Paddlecore is at the top of its teambuilding game?
We’ve got top tier athletes. Meet Chrissy Wessman, Partner with Paddlecore and 11 time paddling world champion.
How long have you been involved in competitive paddling?
I’ve been doing dragon boating for 15 years and sprint canoeing for 12 years.
What’s the difference between sprint canoeing and canoeing?
The way most people think of canoeing is the traditional, cottage style canoe with two people in it, it’s a more stable boat to enjoy the outdoors. The sprint canoe is a streamlined boat that’s narrow, and meant for going fast on flat water. In a sprint canoe you kneel on one knee and paddle on one side. You steer each stroke but you could never tell from looking at it because it’s so efficient. The one person canoe is wide enough for your knee, basically. There is C1, C2, C4 and C14; one, two, four and fourteen people canoes.
Sprint canoeing made headlines recently when Laurence Vincent-Lapointe won gold at the Pan Ams.
Yes, I was so glad that she won, and it’s great to see Canada is still at the top of the program. I’m most excited that C1 for women is finally part of the Pan Am Games, because that makes us about 10 steps closer to being in the Olympics. We are en route be in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. (When I paddled, I was able to win at the Pan Am Championships but this was the highest level of competition, so the Pan Games news is fantastic!)
Why isn’t it in the Olympics?
You need money and funding to build good, Olympic level programs, but not enough countries want to put that forward if the sport is not in the Olympics. So it’s a Catch 22. It’s hard to attract as well as retain good athletes when there isn’t that level of competition.
How do the skills athletes develop at this level translate to dragonboating?
A lot of our team facilitators at Paddlecore are high level athletes who can bring the teambuilding skills they’ve learned from international training back into the real world and our office. Taylor Potts, who’s currently one of the world’s best sprint canoe paddlers, is one of our newest team members at Paddlecore. She’s sharing the most recent expertise that comes from being a high performance athlete in 2015, which includes performance psychology and training techniques, that can be applied to teambuilding for any group, including those from the corporate world.
Does dragonboating belong at the Olympics?
I would love to see dragonboating as part of the Olympics, I realize that the numbers that come with dragonboat are a challenge. One way around that would be accepting 10 person dragonboats rather than 20 person dragonboats.
What’s Canada’s worldwide standing in dragon boating?
Paddling and rowing, Canada is very, very strong. We’ve always had an extremely strong presence in evolving the stroke to where it is now – we’ve been a leader.
From 1999 – 2005 we won three IDBF (International Dragon Boat Federation) Cups, which means that our premiere teams are the best of everybody, it doesn’t matter the age or category. I was fortunate enough to paddle on those dream teams but Blake Hara, PaddleCore’s other partner, was the coach then, one of the only coaches in Canada to win the coveted IDBF Cup.