Races, paddling, music and more at NOC

out paddlingthingVisitors to the Nantahala Gorge this weekend can take in a full lineup of freestyle paddling competitions, outdoor activities, film screenings, live music and family activities.


The 2013 USA Canoe/Kayak Freestyle Team Trials are being held in conjunction with the Nantahala Outdoor Center’s Spring Fling event April 26 through April 28 in the Nantahala Gorge.

• Freestyle competition: Beginning at 10 a.m. Friday and Saturday, top athletes will compete in the Team USA trials for their chance to represent their country in the  Freestyle World Championships being held on the Nantahala in early September. The competition trial is expected to draw over 60 top competitors from across the nation performing freestyle kayaking. It will also be a trial run for organizers of the world freestyle event coming to the Gorge in September.

Freestyle kayaking is a dynamic sport reminiscent of the snowboard half-pipe event with competitors performing stunts and tricks, with DJ Brett Rock mixing music throughout the competition.

An “Open” class in both the men’s and women’s kayak will allow paddlers of all abilities to participate.

• Whitewater creeking: On the upper reaches of the Nantahala, special whitewater releases from the Nantahala dam will provide top-notch class IV and V rapids from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 27 and 28. It will be the second-ever scheduled recreational release on the upper section of the Nantahala River. The release last fall drew 700 paddlers.

• Other stuff to do: As a part of the weekend’s events, NOC is also hosting the Reel Paddling Film Festival. The year’s top paddling films from around the world will be screened at the NOC Welcome Center from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Meanwhile, the NOC Outfitter’s Store will host a paddle sports vendor fair with industry representatives on-hand to show off their new boat designs for 2013, with free demos for paddlers wanting to test them out. For the kids, there will be face painting, bounce houses, hula-hoops and games.

Live music will begin at 7 p.m. each night. Bands include The Archrivals, Marcus King Band, and Jonathan Scales Fourchestra.

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