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While canoe slalom basically uses the same type of craft as canoe sprint, the boats are designed differently. While in canoe sprint the boats are long and streamlined, in canoe slalom the boats are small, light and agile, allowing for greater manoeuvrability through the rapids.
Canoe slalom became popular shortly before World War II with the first known competition occurring in 1933. The first International Federation to govern canoeing was the Internationale Repräsentantschaft für Kanusport (IRK) founded in 1924. After World War II, this organisation was succeeded by the International Canoe Federation (ICF) which governs both canoe sprint and canoe slalom as well as six other canoeing disciplines. It is located in Lausanne.
Canoe and kayak racing became full medal sports at the 1936 Berlin Games. However events were initially limited to canoe sprint until canoe slalom made its debut at the 1972 Munich Games. Slalom racing was not competed again in the Olympic Games until the 1992 Barcelona Games. Canoe slalom racers compete in four events, three for men and one for women, over the same course.