Glenwood Springs kayaker places at World Championships

Mathieu Dumoulin competes in the 2023 International Canoe Federation Canoe Freestyle World Championships in Columbus, Georgia.
Peter Holcombe/Courtesy

As the paddles churned the waters during the 2023 International Canoe Federation Canoe Freestyle World Championships in Columbus, Georgia, one story stood out. Mathieu Dumoulin, a Glenwood Springs resident and kayaker hailing from Limony, France, showcased a remarkable comeback, finishing in sixth place after an eight-year hiatus.

Growing up in the picturesque town of Limony, Mathieu, 36, found his calling in kayaking at 8 years old. The sport, both popular and widely practiced in France, captivated him. By the age of 15, he was competing professionally, backed by major brands like Adidas, and globetrotting for nine months every year. This young prodigy’s talents did not go unnoticed, earning him a spot in six different world championships, with a notable silver at the 2015 World Championships. Post that achievement, life took a turn as he chose to step away from the limelight and settle in Glenwood Springs with his wife, Kristen.

This year’s championship held a special place in Mathieu’s heart. Not just for the competition, but as a moment for his newborn son, Enzo, to see his father in action.

“It was a huge deal for me to know Enzo got to watch me compete at least once,” Mathieu said.

Training for the event was a balancing act for Mathieu. Colorado’s short kayaking season meant he had limited time in the waters. Complementing his regime, he took to endurance sports, particularly distance running — and all this while preparing for the birth of his son.

Glenwood Springs resident Mathieu Dumoulin, left, hangs out with Team Canada during the 2023 International Canoe Federation Canoe Freestyle World Championships in Columbus, Georgia.
Peter Holcombe/Courtesy

“Having a newborn baby in the middle of training was challenging. But he had my full support. I understood how much he wanted Enzo to see him compete,” Kristen shared.

With the championships now behind him, Mathieu contemplates his future.

“After competing in 2015, I left the door open to return. But after this tournament, I believe I’ve closed that book.” He said. However, the Glenwood Wave will still echo with his presence as he practices his tricks and delves into racing. Additionally, he’s passionate about teaching freestyle kayaking to the Roaring Fork community and introducing his son to the joys of the sport.

On the home front, roles are reversing. Kristen, as she gears up for her hockey season with the Ice Queens, playfully commented, “Now it’s Mathieu’s turn to be on baby duty as I train.”

Choosing to represent his native France in the championships was strategic for Mathieu. The French Federation, acknowledging his prowess, offered him an automatic spot, saving him the trials ordeal.

Mathieu Dumoulin.

“I considered competing in team trials for the U.S., but the French Federation provided me with an automatic spot. They knew my capabilities,” Mathieu told the Post Independent in August.

Dumoulin said the championships coming to the United States was an opportunity not just for him, but for Enzo as well. 

“From the start, it was a perfect opportunity,” Matheiu said. “It wasn’t a far distance which was perfect for us with Enzo. I got to do what I love in front of him one last time. Obviously he won’t, but I will always remember that moment.”

From the waters of Limony to the world stage, Mathieu’s kayaking journey has led him throughout the world. As the freestyle kayaking chapter of Dumoulin’s book comes to an end, a new one opens; that chapter being fatherhood.

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