You are probably already in-the-know that the ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships are coming to Bryson City, North Carolina, in September this year.
But before that can happen, the top freestyle kayakers from around the country will converge on the Nantahala River April 26-28 to paddle for a spot on Team USA and to compete again at the World Championships in September.
If you are in the area, be sure to check out the preliminaries on Friday, April 26, with Quarter Finals and Semi-Finals on Saturday, April 27. Finals are on Sunday ending with the Awards Ceremony at 6 p.m.
“This is the most important national-level freestyle event of the year,” said event manager Zuzana Vanha. “For some athletes it’s more stressful than the World Championships, because their very hope of competing at the Worlds hinges on their performance at Team Trials. Last year’s World Cup held here had down-to-the-wire finishes; we expect the Team Trials to be just as exciting. And with all the extra activities we have planned, this will be a fun weekend in the Gorge.”
In addition to the Team Trials, the Nantahala Outdoor Center will be hosting its annual Spring Fling with a gear sale, artisans’ fair, bouncy house, SUP and 8-Ball races, Dagger Squirt Competition and live music.
On Friday, pro paddlers will hold a water skills clinic with Team River Runner, wounded active duty service members and veterans.
On Saturday, Endless River Adventures & Wave Sport will hold its annual Nantahala Open, a fun-based competition at Nantahala Falls that is open to all boaters regardless of experience or ability, with categories and prizes for every level.
To top off the weekend, a water release on the Upper Nantahala River Cascades will up the whitewater ante.
A complete schedule is available on the website.
The World Championships in September will bring nearly 300 of the world’s top freestyle athletes to compete on the new 2013 Wave — modified to create an optimal feature. A revolutionary digital scoring system, unveiled for the 2012 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Cup Series by Nantahala Outdoor Center, will bring real-time results, athlete info and play-back potential, resulting in unprecedented spectator engagement.
Spectators can also expect an Appalachian Heritage Festival, both at the event venue in the Nantahala Gorge as well as in nearby Bryson City, NC, highlighting traditional Cherokee and Appalachian folk arts, crafts, dances and music. The festival will also feature family activities including rafting and float trips, bicycle contests, rock climbing, storytelling and hands-on crafts.