This year, the Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City, North Carolina will host the International Canoe Federation’s Canoe Freestyle Pan American Championships. The event will take place on the Nantahala River from September 4 – 6, and is set to be the premier competitive event of the 2014 freestyle season. The best whitewater athletes from both North and South America are expected to attend, including several medalists from last year’s World Championships.american-freestle-championships-2

In addition to these seasoned competitors, young paddlers just beginning to break into the sport will also make an appearance at the Pan American Championships. The event is an ideal chance for less experienced athletes, ages 15 and over, to get a sense of international competition. Among those athletes registered is Max Haworth of Chattanooga, TN. “For Max, who is 15, the Pan Am Championships provide an opportunity to compete in an international event,” says his mother Mindy Haworth. “Because there is no qualifier, a novice freestyler like Max can throw his hat in the ring and gain valuable competition experience.”

Not only a good entry event into international competition, the Pan American Championships hold special value because they foster competition in the Americas. Event manager Zuzana Montagne said: “With much of whitewater sport’s participation based in Europe, developing a healthy competitive base in the Western hemisphere is a key goal of the International Canoe Federation.”

This spectator-friendly event will be hosted at NOC’s resort location on the Nantahala River. Preliminary competition will take place on Thursday and Friday, September 4 – 5, and the winners will be announced following Saturday’s Final.  The competition will also feature a live DJ and announcer throughout the event, and music and other celebratory activities after the contest.american-freestle-championsips-3

Parking and event entry is free for spectators. Visit the NOC’s page on the Freestyle Kayaking Championships for more information.

Nantahala Outdoor Center is the nation’s largest outdoor recreation company. Over a million guests visit NOC annually to take on over 120 different river and land-based itineraries, learn to kayak at NOC’s world-renowned Paddling School, travel abroad with NOC’s Adventure Travel program, test the latest outdoor gear and shop at its flagship retail stores, or enjoy NOC’s resort. A private company, NOC is one of the largest employers in Western North Carolina.  NOC has been recently recognized by The New York Times as the “Nation’s Premiere Paddling School,” “The Best Place to Learn” by Outside, and as “One of the Best Outfitters on Earth” by National Geographic Adventure.