Angela Wang, Women's Sprint Canoe Athlete. Credit: Joel Guay.
The Pan American Sport Organization (PASO) made two major announcements on Feb. 8 regarding canoe/kayak and the competition program for the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.
First, women’s canoe events will be added to the sprint and slalom program. Women currently compete only in kayak events at the Olympic Games. The move is a step toward gender equality in the sport at international competitions.
Second, whitewater slalom will make its Pan American debut in Toronto. Only flatwater sprint events were included at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
USA Canoe/Kayak wishes to thank Eric Lokken (Durango, Colo.), Pan American Canoe Federation (COPAC) Slalom Chairman and Technical Delegate to the Pan American Games, for his contribution to these efforts.
PASO approved the bid by COPAC to add women’s canoe singles, or C-1, events to both the sprint and slalom programs. U.S. women sprint canoeists are already competing at the Junior and Senior World Championships and the annual Olympic Hopes Regatta.
Stay tuned to www.usack.org for additional coverage on this development, including responses from top U.S. women’s canoe athletes.
Micki Reeves, Women's Slalom Canoe: "The inclusion of C1W in the 2015 Pan Ams program is an exciting and important step for our discipline. Not only will this encourage women canoeists from more countries to participate on an international scale, it will also demonstrate that the C1W discipline is here to stay. I hope this inclusion encourages more national federations to more thoroughly include women in their programs, so they may have the same opportunities to learn and improve as that of their male counterparts. Only then will gender equality become a reality in our sport."
Angela Wang, Women's Sprint Canoe: "It is definitely about time that women's canoe be incorporated. People have been waiting for a long time and fighting for the equality and chance to participate in the high level competitions. Any new opportunities for women in canoe are always taken well."
Makenzie Sousley, Women's Sprint Canoe: "I think it is amazing that women in canoe are finally receiving equality and being allowed to race in regattas. We have been working hard to be entered in as many races as possible and now we can go to the next level."
Lydia Keefe Sampson, Women's Sprint Canoe: "I strongly believe that both Sprint Canoe and Slalom should be a part of the competition program in the 2015 Pan American Games, and other future international events. I would love to see all canoe women in both disciplines having equal opportunities as the men do today."
Mac Hickox, USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Development Director: “This is a great big step forward for our sport. Presently in the U.S., our Under-17/Under-16 [sprint] canoe women are very strong. This announcement will be exciting news to these young women.”
Casey Eichfeld, two-time U.S. Olympian – Men’s Slalom Canoe: “I am really excited for slalom to be in the 2015 Pan Am Games. It is going to be great to have another large race to add to the competition schedule. I am glad to have another high-pressure competition to help me grow as an athlete. It is also exciting because women's canoe will be included, an important step in the possible inclusion in future Olympics.”
Joe Jacobi, USA Canoe/Kayak CEO: "The addition of slalom and women's canoeing for both disciplines to the Pan Am program is an exciting opportunity for our athletes and an important step forward for our sport. We are grateful for the outstanding support of the Pan American Canoe Federation and proud of our own Eric Lokken for his service to these initiatives."
Dr. Cecilia Liliana Farias, COPAC President: “The National Federations of the Americas that have not yet incorporated canoe women are once again strongly encouraged to take the necessary actions in order to grant the rights of their girls and women athletes, providing to them the opportunity to participate at all competition levels.”
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.