By Eugene Buchanan

Were you too busy paddling to catch last September’s World Freestyle Kayak Championships on the Nantahala River? Fear not. The sport is about to get a Grand Canyon-sized boost with its biggest television coverage ever.

An hour-long special about the event will have a month-long national television run on Fox Sports Net beginning May 5, exposing millions of viewers to both the sport of freestyle kayaking and the natural wonders of North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains. The event will be aired on 14 regional sports networks throughout the Southeast through Jalbert Productions, reaching an estimated 100 million viewers

“It’s a huge reach,” says NOC CEO Sutton Bacon. “This event was an important victory for freestyle kayaking, USA Canoe/Kayak and western North Carolina. We proved that freestyle competition can be as spectator-friendly as figure skating or snowboarding, and that Western North Carolina has the natural resources and organizational strength to host world-class athletic events.”

The broadcast includes footage and interviews with kayaking’s biggest stars, including Dane Jackson, Eric Jackson, Claire O’Hara, Peter Csonka, James Bebbington, and more, all among the 178 athletes from 30 different countries who came to the nantahala Gorge last September to compete on the sport’s biggest stage. The event drew 30,000 spectators to the Swain County competition site and garnered more than 50,000 viewers on its live stream, making it “the biggest freestyle event ever held” according to Lluis Rabaneda Caselles, Chairman of the ICF Freestyle Committee.

No one’s more pleased with the coverage than the athletes and organizers. “We hope this broadcast motivates viewers to participate in paddling,” says NOC marketing director Charles Conner. “We know that the world’s top paddlers will impress anyone who sees it. Freestyle kayaking, and whitewater paddling in general, provides accessible, healthy, human-powered
recreational activities in beautiful river environments.”

Broadcast schedules of the event vary according to regional sports network coverage areas, so viewers are advised to check local listings. Visit for a full set of national and regional listings. After the event’s initial run on Fox Sports Net National the event will enter syndication on regional television broadcasts.

Photo courtesy Nantahala Outdoor Center

Photo courtesy Nantahala Outdoor Center

Listings for Southeastern Regional Networks:

Fox Sports South (Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina,
South Carolina, Tennessee)
Monday, May 5 @ 8am
Wednesday, May 14 @ 3pm
Sunday May 18 @ 12:30pm
Sunday, May 18 @ 6pm
Thursday, May 29 @3pm

Fox Sports Florida (Florida, Southwestern Alabama)

Tuesday, May 6 @ 4pm
Saturday, May 10 @ 8am
Thursday, May 15 @ 3pm
Saturday, May 17 @ 3pm
Monday, May 19 @ 9am
(visit for four additional May dates)

Mid-Atlantic Sports Network2 (Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia,
Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia)
Sunday, May 4 @ 12pm
Monday, May 5 @ 8am
Thursday, May 8 @ 3pm
Sunday, May 11 @ 12pm
Tuesday, May 12 @ 8am