Bryson City teen joins Olympic team

Western North Carolina teenager Evy Leibfarth will represent the United States in the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo this year after placing first in two Olympic Team Trials competitions in April. 

Dreams on the water: Bryson City paddler, age 15, wows international audience

On Friday, June 21, a 15-year-old girl from Bryson City took her place in the water for the first heat of her first run as an adult competitor on the international circuit. The roiling World Cup course in Bratislava, Slovakia, was thousands of miles away from her home in Western North Carolina, and her competitors were veteran paddlers, some with Olympic appearances and even Olympic medals to their name. 

Earning her place: Bryson City whitewater hall of famer reflects on lifetime on the water

Bunny Johns became a paddler mostly by accident.

As a college freshman in the early 1960s, she’d lined up a summer job in her hometown outside of Atlanta but returned to discover the position had fallen through. Then a friend of hers called to say she’d been offered a job teaching swimming at Camp Merrie-Woode in Sapphire but didn’t want to go — maybe Johns, who had been a competitive swimmer in high school, would want to take her place?

Dreaming of Toyko: A conversation with Michal

Since the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Michal Smolen has been hopping continents to finish out the post-Rio racing season, but The Smoky Mountain News caught up with him for an email conversation about paddling, Olympic dreams and the value of American citizenship. 

Dreaming of Toyko: Following competition in Rio, NOC paddler sets sights on 2020 Olympic medal

Much of America spent Aug. 5-21 with eyes glued to a television, cheering on athletes from all corners of the country as they represented the red, white and blue in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. 

SEE ALSO: A conversation with Michal

For the community of paddlers whose nucleus is the Nantahala Outdoor Center, one Olympic dream demanded especially rapt attention — that of 23-year-old kayaker Michal Smolen, a whitewater slalom favorite who cut his teeth on the waters of the Nantahala River. William Irving, president of NOC, well remembers his first experiences watching Michal paddle. At the time, Irving was the high performance director for USA Canoe/Kayak and Smolen’s father Rafal was the newly hired national team coach.

Kayaking Worlds kicks off in downtown Bryson City

kayak paradeA cacophony of voices and cheers echoed across Bryson City as a sea of humanity overtook the small town, a wall-to-wall crowd churning and pressing their way through downtown with excitement radiating from each face.

Freestyle Kayaking World Championships descend on NOC

kayak mainA 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. 

Balancing grades, world-class training no problem for SCC Early College student

out frBy Tyler Norris Goode • Contributor

Rowan Stuart’s favorite kayak maneuver is called the “Phonics Monkey” and involves spinning the vessel on its bow like a pirouette for a full 360 degrees then flipping the boat end over end.

There’s nothing easy about the trick, but Stuart’s ability to cleanly achieve it at high-level competitions is a big reason she’ll be competing in the Freestyle World Championships, the premier competition for freestyle paddling athletes, that start Sept. 2 in the Nantahala Gorge. 

What is freestyle kayaking?

kayak whatisfreestyleCombining an array of difficult tricks, precision paddling and finely tuned choreography, freestyle kayaking can be described as aquatic gymnastics.

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