A destination for paddlers around the world, the Nantahala River is known for its complexity of rapids and consistent waters levels, ensuring a level of competition that can’t be found anywhere else in the United States. The world’s top paddlers will descend on the river for a week of competition, camaraderie and cold water during the 2013 International Canoe Federation’s (ICF) Freestyle World Championships Sept. 2-8.
Awards: 2012 World Cup Champion
Day job: Kayak retailer
I was 12 when I started paddling. We had a group of kids doing canoe sports, traveling around and doing competitions. It was really nice to have those trips together. At that time, we all were just starting to race and do rafting, doing small competitions, sometimes winning, sometimes losing.