Italy The canoeist 'Max the bomb' dies in a kayak accident

It was supposed to be a fun Tuesday canoeing for Massimo Benetton, 54, originally from Venice

Italy The canoeist 'Max the bomb' dies in a kayak accident

It was supposed to be a fun Tuesday canoeing for Massimo Benetton, 54, originally from Venice. He worked for the Papin sporting goods company after having been a mechanic for a decade at a popular company that makes racing bicycles. Canoeing had accompanied him throughout his life: Benetton -nicknamed "Max the Bomb" among fans- was a champion canoeist in the freestyle specialty and a master of freestyle. He had a lot of experience.

At 8 pm he had met with some friends in the town of Gisse, near San Martino, to go down the Aurino river. To him it was to be little more than a relaxing excursion. During the excursion, however, an accident threw him into the icy waters of the river. The currents dragged him while his friends raised the alarm and joined their ropes to try to recover him. The darkness complicated everything. The fire brigade and the Brunico water rescue team arrived at the scene, as well as the Aiut Alpin Dolomites helicopter with its night vision devices activated. Once Benetton's body was recovered and dragged to the shore, the emergency doctor and the Cruz Blanca health personnel desperately tried to revive him, but they could not do anything: the 54-year-old Venetian was already dead. The Carabinieri are carrying out the investigations to find out what happened.

Benetton was well known on the national sports scene. Freestyle, his specialty, rewards the ability to perform evolutions and acrobatics in the water. In this category he had participated in the world championships of the specialty in Nottingham (England). Massimo was interested in this sport from a very young age and played in world championships in 1991 and 1993. His record includes a bronze medal in the 1997 Italian Championships, and a silver and a gold medal in the 2002 and 2003 European Cup .

Benetton was also one of the first to experiment with carbon fiber (as in bicycles) for the construction of kayaks. "I never forget the most beautiful part of this sport," he said in an interview, "which is the contact with nature and the chance to experience the wildest aspects of the mountains. It requires coordination, balance and discipline."

Arcangelo Pirovano Todeschini, a founding member of the Italian Federation of Tourist Canoeing, does not understand the death of his friend: "He had undoubtedly gone to train: it was not dangerous, perhaps he was tired. He knew very well what maneuvers to perform with his life jacket, which he was definitely wearing it." For Todeschini, "Max could have gotten into a hole", as it is called in the jargon when the water surpasses a large rock and creates a current that retains the kayak. "But that shouldn't have been the problem, because he used to play with the holes."

Benetton leaves a son, Leonardo, his father and his brothers Gianni and Lucia, who will remember him like this: "It was pure enthusiasm, out of the ordinary. No matter what sport he played, he had to reach the top. He was a great father, an attentive companion, a good brother".

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