2012 Freestyle World Championships

Rock Island, TN Hosts 2012 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Cup #1 August 24-26

2012 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Cup comes to USA


Bryson City, NC (August 23, 2012) – When the 2012 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Cup in Rock Island, TN, kicks off tomorrow (Friday, August 24), it will mark the first international kayak event to be hosted in the Southeastern United States since the 1996 Olympic Games came to Atlanta. Over 100 athletes from 17 countries have confirmed their appearance at what will be the most prestigious freestyle event of 2012.

“This is going to be a high-energy event that will host some of the top whitewater athletes in the world,” said Zuzana Vanha, Event Director with the Nantahala Gorge Organizing Committee. “It gives us an opportunity to really showcase the southeast and western North Carolina with people from around the world.”

Undoubtedly the focus will be on international Freestyle phenomenon Eric Jackson (USA) and his children, Dane and Emily Jackson, who are looking to put on a show in their home state of Tennessee. Thousands of spectators are expected to visit the venue to watch the show as this family competes with top international paddlers for the title of World Cup Champion.

Dane, who won four medals at the 2011 World Championship in Plattling (GER) and represented North and South America in a freestyle exhibit at the Canoe Slalom competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games, is clear favorite, but nobody is guaranteed a win in this dynamic – and often heartbreaking  – sport that kayaker Pat Keller, known both for his accomplishments as an international expedition paddler as well as for his multiple victories at the Green River Narrows extreme race in Asheville, North Carolina, describes as “doing a floor routine in gymnastics during an earthquake.”

“Focus is a key aspect of the sport,” says Keller, “as well as confidence, and knowing your routine.”

Excitement has been building in the local community and among regional paddlers, and both communities look forward to welcoming the event and the competitors. Local freestyler paddler, Matt Anger is also “looking forward to the World Cup because this is going to be my first international event.” Anger has been concentrating on advancing his freestyle skills over the past year, and he has enjoyed meeting and learning from the international competitors that have been training in the southeast over the past weeks. 11 athletes from western North Carolina will be competing in the World Cup Series, including several juniors.

The scene at Rock Island this weekend will be one of building anticipation, as paddlers use the challenging feature to show off their most spectacular moves in hopes of qualifying for the final on Sunday.

The USA is hosting all three ICF Canoe Freestyle World Cups this year. World Cup #2 will take place next week on the Pigeon River in Hartford, TN, after that, paddlers will make their way to Bryson City, NC for the World Cup Final on the Nantahala River, where they will learn who is to be named the World Cup Champion in 2012.