U.S. Olympic Team Trials April 25-27 at the U. S. National Whitewater Center

Tthe 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Slalom Canoe/Kayak will take place April 25 – 27, 2008 at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, N.C. A three-day competition for the Americas Olympic Continental Qualifier will also be held.

The U.S. Olympic Team Trials are among five international paddling events that are expected to bring over 130 athletes to the U.S. National Whitewater Center over three days. The other competitions include the 2008 Canadian Olympic Team Trials, the COPAC Pan-American Championships, an International Canoe Federation race open to all paddlers, and the Americas Olympic Continental Qualifier. The Americas Olympic Continental Qualifier will determine the remaining slalom canoe and kayak competition slots for North, Central and South American nations at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

About Slalom Canoe/Kayak
In slalom canoe/kayak racing, paddlers navigate through pairs of poles called “gates” through a course of approximately 300-meters, set-up over challenging rapids, waves, eddies and currents. If the paddler touches one of the poles or misses a gate altogether, penalty times are added to the time achieved on the run. The Olympic program includes men’s and women’s single kayak, and men’s single and double canoe.

The U.S. Olympic Team Trials are expected to include 30 of the top slalom paddlers in the United States including 2004 Olympians Scott Parsons (Bethesda, Md.), and Brett Heyl (Charlotte, N.C.). Parsons, who finished 6th in the men’s single kayak at the 2004 Athens Games, brought home the top U.S. performance at the 2007 ICF Slalom World Championships in Foz do Iguau, Brazil with a 7th-place finish in the event. Heyl finished 8th in the men’s single kayak at the Athens Games and 37th in the event at the 2007 ICF World Championships. Women’s competition is expected to include U.S. paddler Ashley Nee (Washington, D.C.). Nee, 18, secured a 2008 Olympic Games competition slot for the U.S. in the women’s single kayak with a 23rd-place overall finish at the 2007 ICF World Slalom Championships.

The U.S. Olympic Team Trials are the second of three competitions where U.S. paddlers can earn points towards selection to the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team. U.S. paddlers began accumulating points at the 2007 World Championships and will conclude the selection process at the Prague World Cup in June.

The U.S. Olympic Team Trials for all sports is a collaborative, three-way partnership between the U.S. Olympic Committee, the National Governing Bodies and the local organizing committee.

“USA Canoe/Kayak is excited to host the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials and the Americas Olympic Continental Qualifier at our slalom team’s home course in Charlotte,” said David Yarborough, Executive Director of USA Canoe/Kayak. “The top slalom paddlers from our hemisphere will be in Charlotte. The intensity of competition will be great preparation for our athletes that are selected to represent the U.S. at the 2008 Olympic Games.”

“The first-class facilities of the U.S. National Whitewater Center in combination with the efforts of USA Canoe/Kayak and the city of Charlotte, provides the ideal setting for selecting the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team,” said Steve Roush, the USOC’s Chief of Sport Performance. “The USOC is committed to ensuring that all of our Olympic hopefuls get to experience the thrill and excitement of a well-executed Olympic Trials event and we’re confident that Charlotte can deliver on this commitment.”

The Americas Olympic Continental Qualifier, which is expected to include over 20 paddlers from the U.S., Canada, Chile, Brazil, and Costa Rica, is the final qualification opportunity for North, Central and South American countries to earn 2008 Olympic Games berths in the three men’s and one women’s slalom canoe/kayak events.

The U.S., which has secured 2008 Olympic berths in the men’s and women’s single kayak events, will be vying for slots in the men’s single and double canoe. Canada, which has 2008 Olympic Games berths wrapped-up in the men’s and women’s single kayak, will also be vying for slots in the men’s single and double canoes. Among the international athletes expected to compete in Charlotte are four-time Canadian Olympian David Ford and two-time Canadian Olympic canoeist James Cartwright.

“Charlotte is extremely proud and excited to serve as host for the 2008 Olympic Team Trials in Slalom/ Canoe Kayak,” said Jeff Beaver, Executive Director of the Charlotte Regional Sports Commission, whose city previously hosted the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Cycling and the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team Marathon Trials. “The Queen City has a well-known tradition of providing quality venues and exemplary hospitality and amenities to the many competitors and visitors who come to our region, and we look forward to making the Olympic Trials just such an experience.”

The three-day race festival will include live music, a Red Bull energy zone,
YMCA kid’s zone, sponsor booths, fireworks, a food court, beer & wine. To
top it off, the Riverbottom Throwdown, a USA Climbing sanctioned climbing
competition, will be held at the climbing center on Saturday, April 26th
following the races. Festival events begin daily at 10am.

About the U.S. National Whitewater Center

Located in Charlotte, N.C., the U.S. National Whitewater Center is the world’s only multi-channel re-circulating whitewater river and an official U.S. Olympic Training Site. Opened in August 2006 at a cost of $37 million, the 307-acre public adventure-sport facility includes whitewater rafting and kayaking, mountain bike and hiking trails, climbing center and a ropes course along with locker room facilities, a 2,400 square-foot conference center and 90-table Eddy Restaurant and Bar – all overlooking the home rapids of the U.S. National Slalom Canoe/Kayak Team. Inspired by the Penrith Whitewater Stadium built for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, USNWC’s seven pumps can move and filter more than 536,000 gallons of water per minute, accommodating 300 paddlers per hour on its one mile of combined channels. For more information please visit www.usnwc.org

About USA Canoe/Kayak

USA Canoe/Kayak is a non-profit membership organization promoting canoe and kayak racing in the United States. A member of the United States Olympic Committee, Charlotte, N.C. based USACK is the national governing body for the Olympic sports of Flatwater Sprint and Whitewater Slalom and official U.S. federation of the International Canoe Federation. Other paddling sports sanctioned by USACK include Marathon, Rodeo, Wildwater, Kayak Polo, Outrigger, and Dragon Boat. USA Canoe/Kayak’s National Team Sponsor is Bank of America and its National Team Apparel Sponsor is NIKE. To learn more about USACK and its other sponsors and suppliers, visit www.USACK.org.

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