Nantahala Outdoor Center signs Michal Smolen to new NOC Elite Paddling Team

March 07, 2013, 1:07 p.m. (ET)


download official press release here.

Wesser, NC (March 4, 2013) – Nantahala Outdoor Center announces the launch of the NOC Elite Paddling Team and the signing of the Team’s first member, USA whitewater slalom athlete Michal Smolen. The signing reflects NOC’s longstanding commitment to leadership and excellence in the outdoor industry. Over the years, NOC has boasted over 22 Olympian staff members, and of those, two gold medalists. The Elite Paddling Team is NOC’s strongest effort yet to encourage athletic development, providing direct training support to athletes. The team will eventually grow to include athletes in multiple paddlesports disciplines as well as other outdoor sports. 

Smolen began his paddling career on the Nantahala as a youth member of the Nantahala Racing Club, a USA Canoe/Kayak Center of Excellence. Now, at age 19, he has been on the USA Canoe/Kayak National Slalom Team for two years, winning Team Trials in 2011 and finishing 2nd in 2012. “Michal is a promising and extremely dedicated young athlete, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to name him as the first member of the NOC Elite Paddling Team,” said William Irving, NOC’s VP of Leadership Development.  NOC has developed clear training and performance standards that will apply to all members of the Elite Paddling Team. In return for demonstrating superior work ethic and achieving competitive goals, team members are rewarded with financial and logistical support to offset their training and competition expenses.

Smolen said he was, “Very proud and grateful to have been chosen for the team. I have a long season ahead of me, and this support will go towards my expenses from travelling to races.”

Smolen came away with the gold medal from the season’s first race, the NRC Glacier Breaker, on February 23 and will be returning to the Nantahala for the Bank of America US Open on March 23-24.

The Bank of America US Open is traditionally the last race in the United States preceding the annual USA Canoe/Kayak Slalom Team Trials. “Almost all the top US Athletes come to compete,” said National Team Coach Silvan Poberaj. “Their performance here gives a good indication of who will be strong this season, and who worked hard over the winter. It also gives athletes a chance to fix problems before the beginning of the team selection process.”

The Bank of America US Open is a two-day event, held on the Nantahala Falls Course. Excellent spectator access is provided via an adjacent US Forest Service walkway. The event is open to kayakers of all ability levels. For a full schedule of events, or to register to race, please visit

Michal Smolen – Top International Results:

  • 4th – Junior World Championships – 2011, Foix, France
  • 5th – U23 World Championships – 2012, Wausau, WI
  • 9th – World Cup #4 – 2012, Prague, Czech Republic
  • 14th – World Cup Final – 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia
  • 1st – Vajda Teen Cup – 2011, Bratislava, Slovakia

Top National Results:

  • 1st – Junior National Team Trials – 2011
  • 1st – National Team Trials – 2011
  • 2nd – National Team Trials – 2012
  • 1st – National Championships – 2012

Media Contact:

Zuzana Vanha