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Canoe/Kayak 101: Competition format

Kyle Terada; USA TODAY

Canoe/Kayak 101: Competition format

Learn more on the competition format of Olympic canoe/kayak.

Canoe/Kayak Sprint
Canoe/kayak sprint events consist of heats, semifinals and finals, and take place over the course of six days. A maximum of nine boats will compete in each race. Advancing from the heat to the semifinal or to the final is based on a progression system, meaning the better an athlete does, the more likely he or she is to advance either straight to the final or to the semifinal. The number of athletes per race to advance depends on the number of initial races.

The number of heats per event depends on the number of entries, with each heat consisting of nine boats. If there are not enough boats to fill nine lanes, there are fewer boats in one heat.

In the case of 10 to 18 entries, there are two heats. The first three boats to finish in each of these heats advance directly to the final. The athletes who finish fourth through seventh in each heat advance to one semifinal round. The faster of the two eighth-place finishers also advances to the semifinal. In the case of more than 18 entries, there will be more heats, with fewer athletes from each heat advancing in the competition.

Semifinals and Finals
The number of semifinals per event depends on the number of heats, with nine or fewer boats competing in each semifinal round. There is only one final per event, each with nine or fewer entries.

Canoe/Kayak Slalom
Canoe/kayak slalom competition takes place over the course of five days, during which heats (qualification round), semifinals and finals are completed. Boats race the clock, with time added as a penalty for touching or failing to pass through a gate.

For each event, heats consist of two runs per boat. The race order for both runs is determined by world rankings, which are decided by the results from the 2015 World Championship and World Cup events, with higher-ranking entrants going later in the round. The number of athletes to advance depends on the number of initial entries, and is determined combining the scores from the two runs.

Athletes compete in one semifinal round and the start order is the reverse order of the qualification results (the slowest qualifier goes first). Regardless of the number of entries, ten boats per event advance to finals.

For each event, the final round involves one run with ten entries. The start order of the final is the reverse order of the semifinal results. The scores from the semifinal and the final are combined to determine the final standing.

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