2021 Grom of the Year

Presented by

Offical Sweet Protection logo
The future of kayaking looks BRIGHT !!
Celebrating the most solid up and comer, age 18 and under, in the World of Kayaking !!

George Snook

If the Kaituna River was a classroom, then George Snook would be at the top of the class. Geo earned his first Grom of the Year title with straight FIRE in the 20/21 season. The young kiwi managed to sandwich in slalom training with laps of Huka Falls, and Tree Trunk Gorge, freefall on some of New Zealand’s most iconic waterfalls, cobra flips, downriver play, Aratiatia, and more.

Whitewater Awards: Where are you from?
George Snook: Okere Falls, Rotorua, New Zealand.

WA: Where do you currently live?
GS: I recently moved to Auckland to paddle slalom on the whitewater course there, but trips back home to Okere Falls and the Kaituna River have been very frequent over the last few months because of COVID and the lockdowns.

WA: What year are you in school?
GS: In 2021, I would have been year 13 at school, but after year 12, I choose to leave and go paddle — a very strategic future career choice.

WA: What high school do you/did you go to?
GS: While at school, I attended the Rotorua Lakes High school, a great school that supported me with my training and tolerated my appalling attendance record.

WA: How long have you been kayaking?
GS: My kayaking journey started before I can remember. Sitting me between my dad’s legs and letting me hold onto his paddle while he was training was the only way to get me to sleep as a baby. Since then, I have been surrounded by kayaking and the great community that encompasses the sport. Slalom racing and paddling whitewater has been a large part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I look forward to the many years to come.

WA: Do your parents kayak? If you have siblings, do they kayak?
GS: Both my parents kayaked. I have two older sisters who have different passions than kayaking, but they are both crushing it and are inspirations to me. Dad and mum were both on the NZ slalom team. They have both taught me so much, and I am very grateful that they introduced me to this sport and supported me on my journey. Dad made sure that we only had good days on the river. Fun was always the motivation. It’s pretty epic to be able to paddle challenging runs with your dad and go out and have fun on the water with your mum.

3 MikeDawson PhotoOTY GeorgeSnookTroutPoolFalls
photo: Mike Dawson

WA: How did you get into kayaking? Who taught you to kayak?
GS: I spent a lot of time on the river with my dad, and we would paddle and swim for hours. Living in Okere Falls, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by so many great river people who contributed to my growth as a paddler and person. There are also many other talented young paddlers who live in Okere Falls, like Michel Uhl, Zack Mutton, Oliver English, and River Mutton. Paddling and learning with them has really benefited me because each paddler has their strengths, and I can learn from all of them. Okere Falls has a vast array of great paddlers who were nice enough to take me kayaking as a young kid and teach me important safety and paddling skills. The list of people who have helped me learn and progress my paddling over the years is very long, but you all know who you are, and I thank you all. From day one, Dad and Mum have been there guiding me and giving advice where it’s needed. From making sure we only had good days on the river as a kid to bagging me on class V rapids. I can’t thank Dad and Mum enough for all the life and kayaking wisdom they have imparted to me.

WA: Someone in kayaking who has motivated you?
GS: I get motivated when I see someone charging, doing what they love, and just living their life how they want. My dad has been a massive inspiration for me as I know how much effort he put into the sport back in the day. Some of the Okere Falls locals, Sam Sutton, Ryan Lucas, Mike Dawson, Dylan Thomson, and many others, have shown me that you can live life however you want and how to make your goals and aspirations happen. My training partners Callum Gilbert, Martina Wegman, and Zack Mutton motivate me daily; they keep me honest and help me push my limits.

WA: Someone in kayaking whose style you think is sick?
GS: My love for watching EG, Rush Sturges, and Benny Marr as a kid continues to this day. They all have different styles, but I try to learn the parts I like best from each of them. Aniol’s style always opens my mind to new technical skills and ways of running big whitewater. While at school, I can almost confirm that I watched every kayaking video of Aniol on YouTube. Big ups to Dane Jackson — there is a lot about his style that I like and enjoy watching.

WA: What do you want to do professionally when you grow up?
GS: My future plans are pretty open, but I know that I still have a lot of slalom and whitewater goals left. I would like to go on many adventures all over the world with friends. I want to keep doing what I enjoy while making enough money to support my family, friends, and community while having the freedom to do what I want.

1 MikeDawson PhotoOTY GeorgeSnookTaurangataupo
Tauranga Taupo Falls || photo: Mike Dawson

WA: Biggest feat or accomplishment you are most stoked on from 2020/2021 so far?
GS: In 2020, I was stoked to paddle Tauranga Taupo Falls in the winter with Zack Mutton. In 2021, I am happy to be living my life as I want and to be chasing my goals every day.

WA: Biggest fear?
GS: Probably being mediocre. Also, not a big fan of spiders.

WA: Favorite piece of gear?
GS: Drysuit for sure. Makes me feel like a superhero. 

WA: Favorite boat to date?
GS: Either the Waka OG or the new Goat. But for Kaituna laps, the Wavesport Project X playboat gets me pretty hyped.

WA: Favorite river you’ve ever paddled? A river you hope to get to in the future or that you’re training for?
GS: My favorite river has to be the Kaituna. My home river has so many possibilities and is just epic. But I also loved paddling the Kawarau River in the South Island of NZ. It’s a massive river with big whitewater. California, Chile, and Mexico are at the top of my list of places where I want to go and paddle.

WA: What are your kayaking goals for 2021/2022? Goals outside of kayaking?
GS: With COVID still dominating a lot of the world, plans for 2021 are constantly changing. It all depends on what the COVID situation is and if I can save enough money to leave the country and then pay for quarantine on the way back. But I really hope that we will be allowed to race the 2021 Canoe Slalom Junior World Championships at Tacen, Slovenia. I would love to attend the Extreme Kayak Whitewater World Championship in Norway as well as the Oetz Trophy race to compete with the big boys. I also want to start making some epic content to document the journey and adventures I am lucky enough to go on.

WA: Advice you’d give to other Groms?
GS: Keep charging and doing your thing. Just enjoy it, get creative, and face your fears. But most importantly, make sure you have good safety. Being around to fight another day with your best buds is better than running any rapid.

WA: Any shout outs?
GS: Shout out to the legends at Hiko Sport and Waka Kayaks. They picked me up young and support me to this day. 

Thanks to Whitewater Awards for creating such an epic way to release all the best whitewater content from the year.

WA: Thank you George!

2 MikeDawson PhotoOTY GeorgeSnookTreeTrunkGorge
photo: Mike Dawson

Watch out for the next generation – they are all on FIRE ?
Give these kids a follow to see where kayaking is headed !!

Mashup Reel Featuring:

Whitewater Awards

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