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World's oldest slalom course underlines sustainability of canoe venues

Updated: Jul 19, 2020

The redevelopment of the canoe slalom venue from the 1972 Munich Olympics underlines the value Games facilities can bring to a city, International Canoe Federation vice-president Thomas Konietzko said on Thursday.

Work is underway on the redevelopment of the world’s oldest artificial canoe slalom course in Augsburg, the venue for the sport’s debut at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

The 20 million Euro redevelopment will prepare the historic Augsburg course to host the International Canoe Federation’s canoe slalom world championships in 2022, marking 50 years since the 1972 Olympics.

The Augsburg course, known locally as the Ice Channel, has hosted three world championships, the first back in 1957, and two European championships. It also regularly hosts ICF world cup events.

Mr Konietzko said at a groundbreaking ceremony at the Ice Channel on Thursday that the Augsburg redevelopment showed the value that venues built specifically for Olympic Games could provide for local communities.

“Sports and Olympic sports are often accused of losing sight of the sustainable use of sports facilities after major events, sometimes not without reason,” Mr Konietzko said.

“This groundbreaking ceremony is all the more important today because it shows that there are other good examples of sustainable use of sports facilities.

“Almost 50 years after the Games in Munich, this route has become a magnet for Ausburgers and paddlers from all over the world, who use the venue for their sporting activities and countless international competitions, world cups, European championships and world championships.”

The renovation project will see buildings and outdoor facilities at the venue modernized, capacity for new competition technology added and general improvements to the course.

Mr Konietzko paid tribute to the decision makers who supported the redevelopment.

“I am aware that the decision to invest 20 million Euros here requires political courage, and I would therefore like to thank those responsible from the city, the Free State of Bavaria and the federal government for this courage,” he said.

“It will be well invested money, and we can look forward to another 50 years of sustainable use of this unique sports facility.

“When the world returns to Augsburg in 2022, the athletes will be amazed at what has become of this sports facility, and will be happy to be able to complete many more competitions on the world’s first artificial slalom course.”

Every Olympic canoe slalom course since the sport’s Games debut in 1972 is still in use, with five of the eight venues – Munich, Barcelona, Sydney, London and Rio – regularly hosting major competitions.

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