Soooo, today we learned there’s such a thing as competitive interpretive freestyle canoeing. It’s really a thing. Think of it as akin to contemporary dance theater, but as sport. In that way it’s more like figure skating or gymnastics… but… WITH A CANOE… on water.

On the surface, it seems absurd as a sport. Especially when you see the canoer (canoeist?) dressed in black tie and the performance set to music. And yet — YET! — we can’t help but watch. It’s poetic and mesmerizing.

The “sport” is described as follows:

American Freestyle canoeing is the art of paddling a canoe on flat water with perfect control of its movements. The canoe is usually leaned over to the side to help the boat turn sharply and efficiently and paddle strokes are taken on either side of the canoe depending on the individual move. Balance, paddle placement and turn initiation are a few keys to this control. Since the movements seem dance-like, some practice this art timed to music, which is the ultimate in control.

This reminds us of an other sport: British-style horse-and-carriage racing. The Queen Elizabeth II’s late husband Prince Phillip was an enthusiast. It’s much more of what we usually think of as a sport than competitive interpretive freestyle canoeing. But on first glance, freestyle canoeing seems more compelling and more concerned with style and aesthetics, as well as technique.

In both cases, these are what a friend of ours would call “super-WASPy, extreme ‘white people’ sports.” LOL.