Bryson City, NC (December 9, 2013) – Nantahala Racing Club took a leadership role in the Developing Nations Athletes program (DNA) in 2013 to increase country representation at the 2013 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships, which were held on the Nantahala River in Bryson City, North Carolina. As a result, athletes from Mexico, Malaysia, Argentina and Nepal were able to travel to the United States to participate in the competition, bringing the final count of participating countries to 29.

For those athletes requiring financial assistance for their travels, NRC board member Juliet Jacobsen Kastorf, co-owner of Endless River Adventures, undertook to raise the funds to make their trip possible. Endless River Adventures contributed $1600, which were used directly to fund the travel of Nepalese athlete Anup Gurung to the event. “Anup, like many of our other DNA’s, comes from a country with incredible whitewater resources and a strong paddling tradition, but very little competitive infrastructure,” said Kastorf, “It’s important for the growth and health of the sport to strive for inclusion of new countries in international competition.” Paddlesports manufacturer Jackson Kayaks has pledged to contribute $500 to help offset these expenses. Jackson Kayaks is committed to increasing paddlesports participation on the global level, with a focus on freestyle competition.

In addition to providing financial support to the DNA’s, NRC worked closely with USA Canoe/Kayak to secure official sanction for the DNAs from each country in the program. Since countries with developing paddlesports programs often do not hold a national selection event, this was a primarily bureaucratic process that in some cases took several months. “Anup didn’t know until the week that he left for the Worlds whether he was going to be able to participate,” Jacobsen Kastorf said. “But his flexibility and enthusiasm never waned during the entire process, even though at times it was quite discouraging. Ultimately, the Nepalese Rafting Association gave their consent, and Anup was booked on a flight to the United States, just in time to compete at the 2013 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships.

Anup, who had competed in other international freestyle events, stated, “I walked away with great inspirations and motivation to improve whitewater sports in Nepal. I will do all that is possible in my power to bring knowledge and improvement to our young Nepali kayakers.”

“Ultimately, that’s what determines the program’s success,” said Jacobsen Kastorf. “One athlete comes and competes, but when he returns home, his enthusiasm and experience can motivate an entire new generation of paddlers. Meanwhile, here in the [Nantahala] Gorge, yet another generation of kids is exposed to these paddlers, hears their story, and maybe they’re encouraged to give it a try, too.”