Kayaker Michal Smolen Returns To World Cup Podium After 3 Years With Silver

By Gary R. Blockus | Sept. 02, 2017, 2:30 p.m. (ET)
Michal Smolen poses with his men's kayak silver medal at the 2017 ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup 4 on Sept. 2, 2017 in Ivrea, Italy.

 

Olympic kayaker Michal Smolen returned to the world cup podium Saturday at the ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup in Ivrea, Italy.

Smolen earned silver in the men’s K1 event on Saturday, finishing just off the pace of gold medal winner Vit Prindis of the Czech Republic. Prindis went 87.15 to 87.44 for Smolen, followed by Peter Kauzer of Slovenia in 89.31.

The 24-year-old Smolen, who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, placed 12th in single kayak (K1) at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 after winning a bronze medal at the world championships in 2015. He also won a U-23 world title in 2014, a bronze medal in a world cup the same year, and won a gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.

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His 2015 bronze medal at the world championships was the first medal for an American in the event since 1999. No U.S. man has won a world cup medal in K1 since Smolen’s in 2014.

Smolen was born in Poland, and at the age of 17 in 2012 finished second in U.S. Olympic qualifying. However, he did not complete his U.S. citizenship process until seven months after the 2012 Olympic Games, so he was unable to compete.

He is coached by his father, Rafal Smolen, a two-time Olympic alternate in kayak for Poland, who also coached the U.S. Olympic Team.

Gary R. Blockus is a journalist from Allentown, Pennsylvania who has covered multiple Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.