CanoeRaceWorld started out of an idea to create something that has never been done before in our sport. I wanted to create a single platform that would allow us to help promote a very under-rated and relatively unknown activity. As I set out on this journey, I have had to pull inspiration from other sports that have larger influence, reach, and resources. I look to sports such as triathlon, cycling, and running and am trying to take some of the good things that they do and try to implement them into our sport. Although their may not be many out there, all of these sports do have full-time professional athletes where it is their sole job to train and compete. This may be not be in the near future for canoe racing, but I hope that it can grow large enough to support some of it's athletes on their competitive journey. With that thought process came the idea of a "Team".
The "Team" was an idea to get a group of canoe racing ambassador's together with a common purpose to help lift our sport to another level. I wanted to bring together racers with different skills sets that could be combined to help push the envelope of what we know from our sport today. I also wanted to give the opportunity for inspired athlete's to showcase their abilities and help promote themselves in the process. My hope was to have racers of varied ability levels to be out in the field that are approachable to help others, especially newer racers perform better.
Over the coming years you will start to recognize our athletes, as they proudly rep the special "Team CanoeRaceWorld" logo on race shirts, hats, and boat stickers. Please do not be afraid to come up to our team to give or ask for encouragement or advice. All of our athletes have been chosen primarily because they want to help our sport grow and believe that helping bringing others up around us will help us all reach a new level.
With that I would like to formally introduce you to the team!
Kevin Olson - Founder
I have been around canoe racing my entire life, I cannot remember a Memorial Day that I have not spent on the Susquehanna from Cooperstown to Bainbridge either racing, supporting or watching as a fan. I decided to start seriously racing after my 2014 70 miler finish and have never looked back since then. Since that time I have won the General Clinton 70 miler in both the C1 and C2 amateur divisions and have traveled to Michigan twice for the Ausable River Canoe Marathon as well made trips to many other races in the NY/New England area. In 2015 I started a youtube channel to help promote our sport digitally that has slowly developed into Canoeraceworld. I decided to do put myself out there because I saw no one else doing so in our sport. I am glad I did and look forward to helping anyone that I come in contact with.
Ben Schlimmer - Top Pro
Canoe racing and water based activities have been part of my family for 3 generations. However, I didn't seriously consider racing and competing until my senior year in high school. I was 7 years old when my dad first exposed me to the sport of marathon canoeing, by taking the family on a trip on memorial day 1996 to watch Serge Corbin dominate the General Clinton Canoe Regatta pro race. Fast forward 10 years later I did my first race, the Adirondack 30 miler with my brother Mike and never looked back. Since then, marathon canoeing and other canoe/kayak/outrigger/dragon boat racing has very much defined who I am. Many of my long lasting friendships, connections, and even my college/career path was focused around being out on the water and being part of the racing community. My role in the community has evolved over time, from amateur participant, hard core pro, to promoter/advocate of the sport. Kevin's vision of growing the sport through CanoeRaceWord aligns with my love and passion for canoe racing. I am very happy to be part of his team and make that vision come alive.
Rick Olson - The Veteran
Rick has close to 50 years of experience in the seat of the canoe. Throughout his career he has amassed 3 national titles, and 4 General Clinton 70 miler titles in various divisions. Even more impressive than those titles are his 34 finishes that he has in the 70, with this year hopefully being his 35th. With so many years under his belt, Rick has quite the number of paddling stories to share with the younger generations and has always helped in the community when he can.
Bill Mahaffy - #neonbandit
The river. It’s home. As a child, a fluke turn of events would create a lifelong marathon canoe racing fan. It would take another couple decades, a ludicrous reason to lose weight, and a good night playing poker to get me into my first racing canoe. Somehow after all this I find myself on the CRW team, co-hosting the podcast and contributing to the growth of paddle sports in general. It doesn’t matter if it’s an aluminum canoe or a brand new carbon fiber craft. Racing or general adventure. Single blade paddling is where you’ll find me.
My wife and I live within Grayling proper, and own our “slice of heaven” on the AuSable where we plan on building in the near future. Our kids are probably better paddlers than me already and would spend every day on the river if we let them. The AuSable is my sanctuary. It has brought me pleasure and pain. Chaos and inner peace. There are many in the sport better than I. I am cognizant of my shortcomings as a paddler, and yet continue to become further enamored with the minutia. It is not the standing or the place that brings me satisfaction. It is the collective community of like minded people enjoying what they love. Paddling and competing. I am merely the messenger.
Carson Burmeister - Young Gun
Born and raised in Grayling, MI, paddling has been a focal point of every summer I can remember. I'll always remember my friends and I chasing the racers all the way down the river, debating and every stop if they would be changes in the standings. My fascination with the sport turned into a competitive drive when my buddy and I bought a racing canoe at 15 with plans to race.
The race plans were put on hold, in large part because of a wise high school coach I had. He, a racer himself, stated many times "You can race canoes your whole life, but high school sports with your friends lasts 4 years." I will be forever grateful for that, as my dedication to high school sports landed me a scholarship to play college soccer. Off to Northern Michigan University I went, where at the time I thought I'd be focusing entirely on soccer... that was until I met Shane Macdowell, who at the time lived in Marquette. Shane later introduced me to the legendary Steve Landick, and the rest of my college career was really a balancing act between soccer and paddling. I couldn't resist training with those guys, and becoming involved in the race circuit.
I am now 23 years of age, and will be racing my 5th marathon this year and intend to complete my first triple crown. I have finished 49th, 28th, 20th, and then 15th last year. Outside of canoe racing, my fiance and I currently live in Saginaw, MI and enjoy hiking, running, and biking as other outdoor activities. Where you find us, you will also find our beloved dog Oberon. (Yes, we enjoy a beer or two.) Oberon goes by Obie for short and loves the water. He friendly, don't hesitate to say hi!
Kevin and what he has developed at CRW is something I have found excitement in. I, like the other members of this team, love the sport of Canoe Racing and truly want to grow the sport. Kevin has created a platform and resource to go to for all things canoe racing, and now a team to represent CRW. I'm excited for this season of racing, what we have planned, and the opportunities that lie ahead, stay tuned racers and can't wait to see you guys out there!
Alex Brick - The Techy
I'm a relative new-comer to the canoe racing world, having only discovered that the sport existed in college, through my then-girlfriend Lilly Manns (now happily Lilly Brick). It was immediately clear that I needed to start both canoeing and cross-country skiing if I wanted to spend any time with her. Thankfully, she was a patient teacher (most of the time) and I became passably good at both -- which meant I could occasionally catch a glimpse of a beautiful blur in the distance.
My inlaws (and paddling experts) Anne Manns, Joe Manns, and Al Rudquist, were also willing to help teach me "the way of the paddle". My wife and in-laws put a lot of time and effort into coaching me to basic competence, which makes me extremely lucky--expert coaching isn't a perk afforded to many would-be racers.
In 2018, I decided I wanted to do the Ausable River Canoe Marathon. I had never done anything like it before--the longest anything I'd done at that point was a 12 mile hike--and was quickly in wayyyy over my head. I raced with my father-in-law, Joe, who pushed me all the way down to Oscoda and a 25th place finish. The next year, I took on La Classique, again with Joe, and we placed 12th overall. My challenges this year will be racing the General Clinton (with... you guessed it, Joe) and trying to make a boat behave from the stern (thankfully not at the same time).
Outside of paddling, I work as a Software Engineer at Amazon and enjoy tinkering with electronics. My wife and I live in Minneapolis MN and enjoy the many waterways and large paddling community in the area. I have really come to love the sport and the vibrant community it fosters, but know from experience how inaccessible it can be for many people. I hope to work with the team here at CRW to spread the word on the sport and bring down the barrier of entry in order to help the sport expand to the mainstream (pun only kinda' unintended).