Friday: Paddle with Michal Smolen, World Champion

Friday: Paddle with Michal Smolen, World Champion


Where: Nantahala Bridge Gates
When: 3:30 – 5 pm (youth), 6 – 7 pm (everyone)
Cost: Free!

NRC athlete Michal Smolen recently became U23 World Champion. That means he’s the fastest man under the age of 24 in a whitewater kayak. This is no small feat, but Michal has been preparing for it for years.

Michal grew up in Sylva, NC, and began paddling with NRC at age eight. In those first years, he was nervous about running Nantahala Falls, but sometimes he let his friend DJ talk him into it with the help of a small bribe.

With those days in the distant past, Michal now trains around the world, regularly paddling whitewater much more difficult than his old nemesis, the Falls. In 2014, Michal has trained in Dubai, Australia, and at his home course, the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC. Next week, he’ll be leaving for a training camp at Deep Creek (site of the 2014 Sr. World Championships) before flying overseas to compete in World Cups in England, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.

This Friday, however, Michal will be taking a little time from his hectic travel schedule to reconnect with his home river and coach a paddling session on the Nantahala. Youth paddlers are invited to a 3:30 pm after school training session at the Nantahala Bridge Gates. Youth and adults are invited to attend a community paddle session beginning at 6 pm, also at the Nantahala Bridge Gates.

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