Monday, March 4, 2013

Michal Smolen signed to NOC Elite Paddling Team

Nantahala Outdoor Center is proud to announce the launch of the new NOC Elite Paddling Team with the signing of the Team’s first member, USA whitewater slalom paddler Michal Smolen. NOC has a long history of leadership and innovation in the outdoor industry. Over the years, NOC has boasted over 22 Olympian staff members, and of those, two gold medalists. The Elite Paddling Team is NOC’s strongest effort yet to encourage athletic development, providing direct training support to athletes. The team will eventually grow to include athletes in multiple paddlesports disciplines as well as other outdoor sports.
John Burton, 1972 Whitewater Olympian and longtime NOC staff member, welcomes Michal Smolen to the NOC Elite Paddling Team

Smolen began his paddling career on the Nantahala as a youth member of the Nantahala Racing Club, a USA Canoe/Kayak Center of Excellence. Now, at age 19, he has been on the USA Canoe/Kayak National Slalom Team for two years, winning Team Trials in 2011 and finishing 2nd in 2012. “Michal is a promising and extremely dedicated young athlete, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to name him as a member of the NOC team,” said William Irving, NOC’s VP of Leadership Development. NOC has developed clear training and performance standards that will eventually apply to all members of the Elite Paddling Team. In return for demonstrating superior work ethic and achieving competitive goals, team members are rewarded with financial and logistical support to offset their training and competition expenses.

Smolen said he was, “Very proud and grateful to have been chosen for the team. I have a long season ahead of me, and this support will go towards my expenses from travelling to races.

Smolen came away with the gold medal from the season’s first race, the NRC Glacier Breaker, on February 23, and will be returning to Western North Carolina for the Bank of America US Open on March 23-24.
Michal Smolen powers into first place at the 2013 NRC Glacier Breaker on the Nantahala Bridge Gates

The Bank of America US Open is traditionally the last race in the United States preceding the annual USA Canoe/Kayak Slalom Team Trials. “Almost all the top US Athletes come to compete,” said National Team Coach Silvan Poberaj. “Their performance here gives a good indication of who will be strong this season, and who worked hard over the winter. It also gives athletes a chance to fix problems before the beginning of the team selection process.”

The Bank of America US Open is a two-day event, held on the Nantahala Falls Course. Excellent spectator access is provided via an adjacent US Forest Service walkway. The event is open to kayakers of all ability levels. For a full schedule of events, or to register for the Bank of America US Open, please visit

Michal Smolen competing in the 2012 Bank of America US Open

Michal Smolen
Top International Results:

4th – Junior World Championships – 2011, Foix, France
5th – U23 World Championships – 2012, Wausau, WI
9th – World Cup #4 – 2012, Prague, Czech Republic
14th – World Cup Final – 2012, Bratislava, Slovakia
1st – Vajda Teen Cup – 2011, Bratislava, Slovakia

Top National Results:
1st – Junior National Team Trials – 2011
1st – National Team Trials – 2011
2nd – National Team Trials – 2012
1st – National Championships – 2012