On Friday, the time trials were held for the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships, which will be held later this year in Prague, Czech Republic. Canoeing and Kayaking are Olympic sports, attracting some of the best athletes from around the world, only a few miles away from our neck of the woods in North Central West Virginia.
"This course is amazing. It's very unique and the only re-circulating mountaintop course in the world. We're totally using this event as a test for the 2014 World Championships," Todd Copley, Executive Director of Deep Creek 2014 said.
When you hear the word 'Championship', that's one thing. But as soon as you attach 'World' alongside of it, then that takes on an entirely new meaning. The ASCI Whitewater course at Deep Creek will be the focal point of a worldwide event come September of 2014. That's when Olympic kayakers from across the globe will descend upon Western Maryland, hoping to take another step down the road that leads to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
"If you're an athlete that has your eyes set on 2016, then everything is connected. It's all building blocks, on top of blocks. We find out that the team trials; the first team trials after an Olympic games; London was just a year ago, gives these athletes a chance to start anew. What they do here is truly the foundation to what is going to happen in Brazil four years from now," Joe Jacobi, Chief Executive Officer of USA Canoe/Kayak said.
Friday's team trials event featured a number of international athletes, including Jessica Greoeneveld of Calgary, Canada.
"Us Canadians came as an opportunity to get on an artificial course," Jessica Greoeneveld, a competitor from Canada said. "We really like to come and compete with the Americans. It's a good race, it's a solid field of people, and it's a good lead up for us into our selections, which are next weekend in Canada."
The ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships are held in a different country once a year. Which is why bringing it back to the United States sheds light on a sport that otherwise is only thought of once every four years.
"Its been 25 years since the World Championships have been in the United States. Everybody in this county is absolutely passionate and extremely excited to welcome the World's back to Maryland and to Garrett County," Copley said.
"This is the only place in the world that you can do that. So in a sports like ours, you need something different that allows people to say, 'I remember that sports because they do it on top of a mountain,'" Jacobi said.