Giles Morris wrote this article in today's Smoky Mountain News, it's a great primer for the event. (Click to read more.)
"No matter how you look at it, the U.S. Open is one of the classic showcases in the sport of whitewater racing, and the event will bring some of the world’s best racers in both slalom and wildwater classifications to Western North Carolina to show off their skills."
If you've never watched a slalom race, here's what you can look forward to. In slalom competition competitors get two runs of the course, which is typically paddled in less than two minutes. The paddlers negotiate 20 gates-14 downstream gates and six upstream gates-incurring two-second penalties for any touch of a gate, and an insurmountable 50-second penalty for displacing a gate by more than 45 degrees, proceeding in the wrong order or passing through upside-down. The competitors' two times are added together, with the fastest combined time winning the race.
As always, NOC will offer free parking for the event, and River's End Restaurant will be open for racers and spectators can fuel up. The Outfitter's Store, cabin lodging and even Nantahala River rafting will all be open this weekend.