Thanks to Marc Ornstein for this article!

Marc Ornstein, paddling his Savage River Canoe Works Illusion

My introduction to FreeStyle was some fifteen years ago. Ever since, I’ve struggled with describing it to those unfamiliar with the sport. I’ve explained how we teach about and focus on the combined physics of the boat, body and blade; about effectiveness and efficiency.

Analogies have been made to dressage (highly skilled horseback riding), to those familiar with that sport. None of these descriptions seemed adequate.

Recently, in a radio program about speech writing and public speaking, the term elegant was discussed. It was in the context of sentence structure. In mathematics, proof of a theorem is considered elegant if it is surprisingly simple and effective; similarly in other scientific, aesthetic and philosophical disciplines.

The dictionary defines the noun elegance as refined gracefulness, also tasteful richness of design or ornamentation. When well executed, FreeStyle is certainly graceful. Effectiveness and efficiency is at its heart.

The description seems as relevant to the graceful navigation of a meandering stream as to coaxing the canoe to dance with music. There have been times that I’ve done both at once.

So, there you have it. Elegant. One word to describe FreeStyle.

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