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.
Telling NOC’s story: Book shows early years of outdoor center through the eyes of staff, leaders
It was 1972, and the world of whitewater paddling was changing. Americans were just about a decade into experimenting with kayaks and it had been only three years since the first whitewater race in the South and the passage of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. That year’s Summer Olympic Games in Munich would be the first to include whitewater paddling among its events.
Amid all of this, Horace Holden, Payson Kennedy and Aurelia Kennedy decided to start a new rafting business in Swain County, to be called the Nantahala Outdoor Center.
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.