Catching air on the Nantahala

Big names in paddling will dish up their best stunts and tricks in the NOC Freestyle Shootout kayak rodeo on the Nantahala River this weekend, April 17 and 18.

Freestyle kayaking, like skateboarding or snowboarding on a half-pipe, involves technical tricks and highly-stylized moves — including spins, turns, cartwheels and flips that often involve the boater going completely airborne.

The NOC Shootout is one of only six events in the country where paddlers can get points toward the USA Freestyle Kayaking national championship series. Paddlers are hoping freestyle will be recognized as an official Olympic sport for the 2012 games.

The NOC competition begins late Saturday morning and runs throughout the afternoon. The top five paddlers in each class advance to finals on Sunday. Awards ceremony is Sunday evening with $10,000 in cash and prizes.

Throughout both days, visitors can enjoy a festival-like atmosphere with DJ Terrence Young. Saturday evening, The River Bottom Nightmare Band featuring members of Asheville’s Firecracker Jazz Band will perform at The Pourover Pub at NOC.

The wave feature on the river will be lit up for an “open surf” on Friday evening, April 16, after which Eric Jackson, founder of Jackson Kayak, will give a talk on the rules, moves and scoring of freestyle kayaking at The Pourover.

noc.com or 800.232.7238.

 

Test the newest boats in the market

Nantahala Outdoor Center’s Demo Days is Saturday, April 17, where more than 60 kayaks and canoes will be available for free test-paddles on the river.

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