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Profile: The Team Bota Bota – La Relève

Bota Bota is proud to sponsor the Bota Bota female ice canoe team – La Relève. The team will be in Montreal february 23rd for the Montreal ice canoe challenge and we met with these 5 young athletes to discuss this extreme sport which uses the river as a field of practice.

Anne-Sophie Corriveau (forward port side) Sarah Boudreau-Turpin (forward starboard side) Dominique Bernard (aft port side) Dominique Laliberté (aft starboard side) Marianne Biron-Hudon (coxswain)


1.How was ice canoeing born?

The first ice canoes to cross the Saint Lawrence River did so in the 17th century. At the time, ice canoes were the only means of transportation to travel between Québec City and Lévis during the winter season. They transported mail and merchandise. It was in 1894 that canoes became part of sports competition for the first time. In 1955, along with the Quebec Winter Carnival’s resurgence, these races became a staple and were reorganized year after year. It wasn’t until 1987 that female teams began ice canoeing competitively.

2.Is this sport regaining popularity?

Fans of this sport are increasigly present in the region. Every year, the number of teams participating in the Coupe des glaces keeps growing. As the circuit remains accessible to new teams, such as ours, who wish to take part in this experience.

3.Who can ice canoe?

The circuit is open to everyone. But the difficult practice conditions of this sport in which this sport is practiced act as a form of “natural selection”.

You must be in good physical condition to provide the necessary intensity to move the canoe from point A to point B while fighting the current, the icy relief, the wind, the temperature, etc. Moreover, you need to put aside a lot of time to practice this sport, especially when a single run can last for up to two hours. Everything else comes down to the desire to surpass oneself and the acquisition of experience over the years, making ice canoeing an accessible and very pleasant activity!

3.What kind of discipline is required to succeed in this sport?

To our minds, in order to succeed in ice canoe, you must first be part of a cohesive team. Indeed, to direct the canoe and make it move, the five team members have to work together. Numerous hours of practice can create this synergy amongst the team members.

4.How often do you practice?

We started paddling workouts, twice a week, last September . It was also the time for us to exercise, so we added our personal training to that. Since the river has frozen over, we practice a lot! During the holidays, we practiced on the river 5, sometimes 6, times a week. Now that we’re back at university, we practice half as many times as we used to, to allow us to be in great shape for every race, which takes place every week.

5.How does the team get ready before a competition? What do you do to relax?

The pre-race preparation is crucial, step which undoubtedly affects the end results. Nevertheless, the key to success, be it for an oral presentation, a trip, or an ice canoe race, is to be PERFECTLY ready. It is inevitable to feel a certain level of stress a few hours before hearing the departure horn. Some prefer listening to music and relaxing, others enjoy laughing and telling silly stories to get their minds off of what’s coming. Some like observing competitors, while others prefer visualization. The important thing is to find a personal method to be perfectly ready, and to have all of the necessary equipment, to have eaten the right food, and to try to be relaxed, in your own way.

6.What is your relationship with the river? Was every team member already in love with water before beginning to ice canoe?

The river’s beauty and the adversity it can present during a race are both inherent parts of having a passion for ice canoe… Although many of the girls in the Bota Bota La Relève team have a nautical background, be it with river canoeing, kayaking, or sailing, nothing is comparable to ice canoeing, and the passion that we develop through practice. Most Quebecers will say that the Saint Lawrence River is gorgeous, and that we are privileged to live near such scenery. An ice canoe team would add that it is a practically unique privilege to somewhat “become a part of it” thanks to a small fiberglass boat!

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