Kevin Daffe, a member of the Canadian Junior Rodeo team prepares for the World Rodeo Championships in New Zealand in December.  Both local newspapers are covering his progress. Back

Kayaker joins Canada’s junior team

Whitehorse Star Sports Editor (reported November 3rd, 1999)

The cold temperatures have come to the Yukon. Snow is on the ground. There is no denying that winter is here.

Despite the frigid temperatures, 18-year-old Kevin Daffe is still out kayaking. Normally, the Vanier Catholic Secondary School student would have his gear packed away for the winter by now.

But Daffe’s season isn’t over.

He is off to New Zealand to compete in the World Rodeo Championships (Dec. 1-4) as a member of Canada’s junior kayaking team.

“As soon as I found out I was on the team, I started paddling as much as I could and I’ve been out quite a bit,” said Daffe, who learned the news over the summer.

“Normally at this time of year, I’ve pretty much ended my paddling but we (Daffe and friends) found this wave out by Marsh Lake just before the dam. We might go out again next weekend one more time and freeze our butts off. We’ve been getting a fire going out there to keep ourselves warm.”

Daffe heard from a friend there was an open spot on the team, so he sent a letter and a video tape showing off his enders and rolls to the national team coach, figuring he had nothing to lose.

He was surprised to read an email from the coach saying he was selected over two other kayakers from B.C and Ottawa.

“I was amazed, super excited and a little scared as well. I’ve never been to such a big competition before. It’s a little nerve-wracking but I’m excited.”

Whitehorse Whitewater Rodeo and the Alaska state championships, Daffe’s only major competitions, can’t compete with the experience of paddling with the best kayakers in the world.

Paddling with the world’s best is about the only kayaking experience this 18-year-old hasn’t had.

His father, Bob, runs Tatshenshini Expediting, and Kevin has been on the river most of his life. He took his first whitewater rafting trip at age four, and has been kayaking for 10 years.

Daffe is hoping to finish in the middle of the pack at the world championships.

Knowing he’s up against some of the world’s best junior kayakers, and likely won’t be able to match his success at this summer’s Whitehorse Whitewater Rodeo when he won everything – the downriver race, the whitewater competition and the slalom event.

A major concern for Daffe isn’t his performance in New Zealand, its getting to New Zealand. The trip is going to cost him more than $3,500. So far with sponsorships from Coke and Necky (a kayak company), he’s raised $1,500.

Daffe is leaving Nov. 19 and will practice for two weeks before returning to the Yukon the day after the competition.

1999 The Whitehorse Star