World freestyle kayak champs Eric “EJ” Jackson and his daughter Emily both qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials as a result of their performance at the 2008 Bank of America Whitewater U.S. Open last weekend at Nantahala Outdoor Center in Tennessee. The event served as the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Qualifier.
“The Olympic Qualifier Race this weekend was exciting, intense, and rewarding for both Emily and I,” said EJ, who competed on the US team during the 1992 Olympics. “For both Emily and I to win a spot at the Olympic Team Trials was an awesome experience for both of us!”
To qualify for Olympic Team Trials, athletes must either have been members of the National Team in '07 or finish in the top five boats of their class at a regional qualifying race, which included the US Open. Both EJ and Emily finished in the Top 5 in the men's and women's K1 class at the US Open.
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 Jacksons are best known as freestyle kayakers. EJ is four-time and reigning World Freestyle Kayak men's champ and Emily holds the junior women's world championship title.
If the Jacksons can successfully make the switch from a freestyle orientation to competitive slalom and realize their Olympic dreams, they would be the first US father-daughter team to compete in the same Olympiad in modern Olympic games history. Danish Olympic sailing legend Paul Elvstrom's daughter, Trine, crewed for her father in the Finn Class sailing division in the '84 and '88 Olympic Games.