***UPDATED March 13, 2012***
Wednesday, July 27, marks the official one-year-out date from the Opening Ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympic Games, July 27-August 12, 2012. Follow our journey toward London 2012 on USACK.org, Facebook and Twitter.
THE ROAD TO LONDON
The 2012 U.S. Olympic Canoe/Kayak Team will consist of seven athletes competing in six events. Those events are:
- Sprint - women’s single kayak (K-1)
- Sprint - men’s single kayak (K-1)
- Slalom - women’s single kayak (K-1)
- Slalom - men’s single kayak (K-1)
- Slalom - men’s single canoe (C-1)
- Slalom - men’s double canoe (C-2)
The U.S. will field a full slalom team. Slalom events included in the Olympic program are men’s C-1 and C-2 and women and men’s K-1. A National Organizing Committee can qualify a second C-2 boat should the men’s K-1 and C-1 representatives decide to pair up. Team USA qualified slots for men's and women's K-1 at the 2011 World Championships in September in Slovakia. The U.S. canoe athletes earned their slots by placing first at the 2012 Pan American Championships in March in Brazil, which was the last chance qualifier. The specific U.S. athlete that will fill these slots will be determined by performances at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Slalom Team Trials and the first stop on the 2012 ICF Slalom World Cup tour.
The U.S. will send two sprint kayakers to London. Sprint events included in the Olympic program are as follows: Men’s K-1 200m, K-1 1000m, K-2 200m, K-2 1000m, K-4 1000m, C-1 200m, C-1 1000m, and C-2 1000m; Women’s K-1 200m, K-1 500m, K-2 500m, and K-4 500m. Team USA qualified slots for men's and women's K-1 at the 2011 Pan American Games in October in Guadalajara, Mexico, which was the last chance qualifier. The specific U.S. athlete that will fill these slots will be determined by performances at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Sprint Team Trials and the first stop on the 2012 ICF Sprint World Cup tour.
The “hopefuls” that qualified the Olympic slots for Team USA are:
April 12-14, 2012 2012 U.S. Slalom Olympic Team Trials in Charlotte, N.C.
April 18, 2012 100 Days Out from London 2012 Opening Ceremonies
April 20, 2012 2012 U.S. Sprint Olympic Team Trials in Oklahoma City, Okla.
May 19-20, 2012 2012 Sprint World Cup No. 1 in Duisburg, Germany
May 26-27, 2012 2012 Sprint World Cup No. 2 in Poznan, Poland
June 2-3, 2012 2012 Sprint World Cup No. 3 in Moscow, Russia
June 8-12, 2012 2012 Slalom World Cup No. 1 in Cardiff, UK
June 15-17, 2012 2012 Slalom World Cup No. 2 in Pau, France
June 22-24, 2012 2012 Slalom World Cup No. 3 in La Seu d'Urgell, Spain
July 27-August 12, 2012 2012 Olympic Games in London, UK
July 29-August 2, 2012 Olympic Slalom in Broxbourne, UK
August 6-11, 2012 Olympic Sprint in Eton, UK
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Competing with Crohn’s: Two-time Olympian Carrie Johnson (San Diego, Calif.) was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 2003, while rehabilitating a shoulder injury. The illness left her unable to train in the 2003 and 2009 seasons. Johnson's favorite quote "falling in life is unavoidable- staying down is optional" suggests she has not let the disease keep her from her beloved sport. She qualified a Olympic slot for Team USA in women’s sprint K-1 with two gold medals at the 2011 Pan American Games. She finished as high as 6th place on the 2011 Sprint World Cup circuit.
Is Third Time the Charm? Two-time Olympian Scott Parsons (Bethesda, Md.) qualified the Olympic slot for Team USA in men’s slalom K-1 with a 15th place finish at the 2011 Slalom World Championships. A potential third Olympics offer a chance to finally achieve his dream of winning an Olympic medal. He placed 6th at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Parsons will face tough competition from his teammates for the one men's slalom K-1 slot. He finished as high as 8th place on the 2011 Slalom World Cup circuit. He must beat out 2004 Olympian Brett Heyl (Norwich, Vt.) and Scott Mann (Bethesda, Md.).
A True Student-Athlete: Caroline Queen (Darnestown, Md.) is a sophomore at Davidson College in North Carolina, a short drive from the U.S. National Whitewater Center and site of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Slalom Team Trials. The 19-year-old is taking the spring 2012 semester off from school to focus on training for the Trials and, hopefully, her first Olympic Games. She plans to enroll in medical school after completing her undergraduate studies. Queen qualified the Olympic slot for Team USA in women's slalom K-1 with 37th place finish at 2011 Slalom World Championships. The 2011 U.S. National Champion faces stiff competition from Ashley Nee (Darnestown, Md.).
Four Years Wiser: Benn Fraker (Peachtree City, Ga.) was a carefree 19-year-old slalom canoe athlete at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. “I was a boy then, and I aim to return in London a man,” Fraker said. His paddling as matured. He takes fewer risks and trusts his ability more. Fraker qualified the Olympic slot for Team USA in men’s slalom C-1 with a Gold medal at the 2012 Slalom Pan American Championships. The 2011 U.S. National Champion has been pushed by the emergence of teammate Casey Eichfeld (Drums, Pa.), who finished second to Fraker at the Pan American Championships.
Like Fathers, Like Sons: The men’s Slalom C-2 tandem of Eric Hurd (Woodstock, Ga.) and Jeff Larimer (Marietta, Ga.) are both following in the wake of their paddling fathers, Mike Hurd and Mike Larimer. The elder Hurd and Larimer trained with each other on the Chattahoochee River just north of Atlanta. Mike Hurd was also a high school All-American basketball player. Mike Larimer narrowly missed out on competing at the 1992 Olympic Games, but he was able to coach Team USA at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics. Surprisingly, their sons have only recently joined forces in doubles canoe. But the duo quickly established themselves as the best C-2 boat in North and South America with a Gold medal at the 2012 Pan American Championships.
The Waterman Spirit: Ryan Kawika Dolan (Kailua, Hawaii) embodies the spirit of the Hawaiian "Waterman." He excels at all paddle sports, which are important activities for many residents of the island state. The 22-year-old grew up surfing, fishing and swimming with his older brother, Patrick, also an elite sprint kayaker. He qualified the Olympic slot for Team USA in men's sprint Kayak with a bronze medal in K-1 200m at the 2011 Pan American Games.
There are two Olympic disciplines within Canoe/Kayak: flatwater sprint and whitewater slalom. Flatwater sprint races are often held at the same venues as Olympic rowing. The London 2012 sprint venue is at Eton Dorney, 25 miles west of London. Whitewater slalom courses involve paddlers making their way through rapids around gates, not unlike slalom skiing at the Winter Games. London 2012 slalom venue is the Lee Valley Whitewater Centre, 30 km North of Olympic Park. Both sprint and slalom involve canoes and kayaks, although women’s canoe is not currently part of the Olympic program. Paralympic Canoe/Kayak was recently voted in for Rio 2016, but will not be part of the London Games.
USA Canoe/Kayak is a non-profit membership organization based in Oklahoma City, OK, promoting canoe and kayak racing in the United States. A member of the United States Olympic Committee, USA Canoe/Kayak is the national governing body for the Olympic sports of Flatwater Sprint and Whitewater Slalom and the official U.S. federation of the International Canoe Federation. Other paddling sports sanctioned by USACanoe/Kayak include Marathon, Freestyle, Wildwater, Stand Up Paddleboard, Canoe Polo, Canoe Sailing, Outrigger, and Dragon Boat. For more information about USA Canoe/Kayak, please visit us on the web at www.usack.org, on Twitter at @usacanoekayak and Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/USACanoeKayak.