Canoe/Kayak Preview
In the Olympic Games, there are two major Olympic disciplines. 

The first is canoe sprint, which is sometimes referred to as flatwater sprint. The Olympic distances recognized by the International Canoe Federation are 200-meter, 500-meter, and 1000-meter. These races take place on straight courses with each boat paddling in its own designated lane. 

The second discipline is canoe slalom (previously known as whitewater slalom), which is generally held on an artificial whitewater course. Athletes navigate a decked canoe or kayak through a course of 18-24 hanging downstream and upstream gates in the fastest time possible. Penalties are assessed for touching (2-seconds) or missing (50-seconds) a gate.

The sport has been part of the Olympic program since the 1936 Games in Berlin. Through the sport’s history in the Olympic Games, U.S. athletes have earned sixteen medal-winning finishes – with Rebecca Giddens most recently reaching the podium for Team USA in canoe slalom with a silver in women’s single kayak (K1) in 2004. 

Updated on July 19, 2020. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

A New Event: In Tokyo, women’s canoe will finally make its Olympic debut. The debut of the event is especially significant in canoe slalom, where this will be the first time there is gender parity in the discipline at the Olympics Games. As a result of the historic addition of women’s single canoe (C1), men’s double canoe (C2) will no longer be on the Olympic program. Women’s C1 first became a world championship event in 2009.

In canoe sprint, 2020 will see the introduction of the women’s C1 200-meter and C2 500-meter, and the men's K4 1000-meter will be shortened to a K4 500-meter event. To make way for the new events, the men's C1 200-meter and K2 200-meter have been removed from the program. Although these events have been raced at world championships, they have never been raced on the Olympic level. These races will be very interesting and exciting additions to watch.

Next Olympic Hopeful: Shaye Hatchette was chosen as one of Team USA's Next Olympic Hopefuls in 2018, switching to kayaking just months after graduating from college in May 2018. A former gymnast and rower, she has since moved to the Lanier Canoe Kayak Club and is training under head coach Zsolt Szadovszki. Despite her limited time in the sport, she made her first U23 team in 2019. If she makes the 2020 Olympic Games, it will prove the power of talent transfer for all sport.

Evy Leibfarth (Bryson City, North Carolina)
In 2019, Leibfarth qualified for her first ever slalom senior national team in both women’s K1 and C1 at age 15. Despite being one of the youngest athletes on the international racing circuit, Leibfarth put on a tremendous display of her potential, making finals and winning medals at the world cups while also taking home a bronze medal in K1 and a gold medal in the extreme slalom at the ICF Junior World Championships. She capped off her spectacular first season by earning the U.S. an Olympic quota spot with a fourth-place finish in C1 at the 2019 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships. Now she’ll look to become the youngest-ever American paddler to qualify for an Olympic Games.

Casey Eichfeld (Drums, Pennsylvania)
Eichfeld will be vying to qualify for his fourth Olympic Games in 2020. A slalom athlete, he is considered amongst the best paddlers in the men's C1 category. After finishing seventh at Rio 2016, Eichfeld looks to once again be among the top finishers at the 2020 Games.

Michal Smolen (Charlotte, North Carolina)
Smolen, son of U.S. National Slalom Team coach Rafal Smolen, is among the top men's K1 slalom paddlers in the world. The 2016 Olympian is very calm, cool, and collected when he’s on the water and confident in his chances to win a medal in Tokyo. Coming off a season strong 2019 season, Smolen looks to continue his upward trend toward the end of the season and represent Team USA on the world's largest stage.

Nevin Harrison (Seattle, Washington)
Harrison truly had a breakthrough 2019 season, proving she will be a force to reckon with in Tokyo. Competing in the women’s canoe 200-meter event, she put the world on notice when she won gold at the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships. Capping off her break-out season with a bronze medal at the Olympic test event in the fall of 2019, Harrison looks poised to shine in the Olympic spotlight.

Shaye Hatchette (Fort Gibson, Oklahoma)
Hatchette was chosen as one of Team USA's Next Olympic Hopefuls in 2018. She has since moved to the Lanier Canoe Kayak Club and is training under head coach Zsolt Szadovszki. Despite her limited time in the sport, she made her first U23 team in 2019. If she makes the 2020 Olympic Games, it will prove the power of talent transfer for all sport.

Sprint: The first chance to qualify for quotas was at the 2019 world championships in Szeged, Hungary, where the U.S. qualified a quota in women’s C1.

Countries who did not qualify all possible spots at the world championships will have a second chance at the 2021Pan American Championships in May in Curitiba, Brazil. Finally, any quotas left over will be available to secure only for single-athlete events at the 2021 world cup event in Duisburg, Germany in May. 

Slalom: Athletes’ s first opportunity to qualify quotas was at the 2019 world championships in La Seu d’Urgell, Spain. Quotas were secured for Team USA in the men’s single kayak (K1) and women’s single canoe (C1) event. The U.S. will have one final chance to qualify a quota in men’s C1 at the 2021 Pan American Championships in April in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

Selection procedures will be posted to the American Canoe Association’s website when available.

April 9-11, 2021: Canoe Sprint Pan American Championships (Curitiba, Brazil)
April 30- May 2, 2021: Canoe Slalom Pan American Championships (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
TBD: U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Sprint (Location TBD)
 TBD: U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Slalom (Location TBD)
 July 25-30, 2021: Canoe Slalom races at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2021
 Aug. 2-7, 2021: Canoe Spring races at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2021