As the competitive season winds down, there is often a period of reflection about the state of canoe/kayak events on the international stage. My Facebook stream is loaded with posts and links to blogs and articles about taking our competitive events to the next level.
In September, I had the opportunity to attend three International Canoe Federation (ICF) World Championships in a three week period. With "behind-the-scenes" access, I saw each host organizing committee taking different paths to producing premiere ICF events. Two of these events, Canoe Slalom and Canoe Marathon World Championships, come to the U.S. next year.
But the other event was the Freestyle Kayaking World Championships held in Wesser, North Carolina, adjacent to the iconic Nantahala Outdoor Center, leaders in whitewater and outdoor adventure and strong supporters of Olympic paddlesports with 22 Canoe/Kayak Olympians having worked for the company through its 41 year-old history.
Huge crowd under the lights at the Freestyle Worlds on the Nantahala River
The organizers of the World Championships on the Nantahala River produced an outstanding event that struck a powerful chord with the target audience. The "event experience" for spectators, sponsors, VIPs and media in attendance seamlessly wove together a platform of technology, hospitality, retail, entertainment and high performance that fully engaged all the senses of competitive paddlesports.
On the broadcast platform, the live-streaming event coverage, functioned beautifully and attracted over 70,000 unique views. And what is emerging as an excellent traditional television alternative for paddlesports here in the U.S., a post-produced broadcast of the Freestyle World Championships is being prepped for distribution to more than 80 million households via Fox Sports Network. Such post-produced shows allow the sport to develop the memorable storylines and target the broadcast times for more effective calls-to-action.
Teaser for the Freestyle Worlds broadcast production coming in Spring, 2014
Over the past several years, the ICF has significantly raised the standard of hosting events requiring a huge investment of people, time and resources. The desire to meet this standard here in the U.S. must be purposeful, professionally-driven and aligned with USA Canoe/Kayak's mission and strategic goals.
We thank our partners at the Nantahala River for hosting an exceptional World Championships that reinforced our passion and capabilities for welcoming international competitions to the U.S. And to the leadership of the Nantahala Outdoor Center, thank you for including USA Canoe/Kayak and ICF events in the vision for the future.
I enjoy seeing aspiring athletes taking advantage of the incredible opportunities that come with racing in Europe. So I was happy to receive an update this morning about one such experience.
Three athletes representing our National Slalom Program competed at the at the European Canoe Association Canoe Slalom Junior Cup on June 29-30 in Solkan, Slovenia. Great results for these athletes:
Evelyn Van Horn grabs third in the Women's U-16 Final
Tyler Smith takes second in the Men's U-14 C-1 Final.
Ethan Van Horn placed 5th in the U-23 Men's K-1 Final.
Thank you to the families who made this competition opportunity possible for these young athletes and many thanks to Evelyn, Tyler and Ethan for representing USA Canoe/Kayak abroad.
USA Canoe/Kayak's U-18 Sprint Canoe Athletes took to the water June 29-30 at the Canada Day Regatta in Ottawa. Our Sprint National Development Director Mac Hickox has done outstanding work moving this Canoe Program forward.
U18 Sprint Canoe athletes - beat a steady path to the podium in Ottawa. Twenty medals won by our Team of 15 athletes.
Andrew Field and Matthew Lam join Craig Spence of Canada following C2 200m event at Canada Day Regatta.
Proud of how these young men and women represent USA Canoe/Kayak both on and off the water.
You can learn more about how to support Mac's Sprint National Development Program right HERE - the information and resources in this area are fantastic.
The countdown to the Junior and U-23 World Championships in Welland, Canda continues. I'm looking forward to seeing many of these athletes compete next month.