David Boraks / WFAE

  There was lots of cheering at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte Saturday as kayaker Michal Smolen of Gastonia and canoeist Casey Eichfeld of Mount Holly earned spots on the U.S. Olympic team going to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro this August. 

Smolen finished atop the men’s kayak to clinch his spot. Eichfeld will be going to his third Olympic games after Saturday’s win in the men’s single canoe. 

David Boraks / WFAE

The nation’s top athletes in canoe and kayak slalom are in Charlotte Friday and Saturday competing to represent the U.S. at this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. They include two paddlers who moved to Charlotte to be near the U.S. National Whitewater Center, where the trials are being held.

Michal Smolen and Casey Eichfeld are exactly the kind of athletes founders were hoping to attract when they built the U.S. National Whitewater Center near the Catawba River a decade ago.

Tanner Latham

WFAE followed Davidson College junior and Olympic kayaker Caroline Queen’s Olympic experience. As the fall semester got underway, she spoke to Duncan McFadyen about her time in London.

MCFADYEN: What was it like, going over to London, knowing you were competing in the Olympic Games? Tell us some of your experiences. 

Well I think London was a wonderful host city.  Everyone was really excited to have us, and it was pretty well organized from what I could tell. It was just an incredible experience overall; definitely unique.

Wunderkind Kayaker Must Wait For Next Olympics

Apr 13, 2012
Tanner Latham / WFAE

The U.S. Olympic Trials for kayak and canoe are taking place out at the Whitewater Center today and tomorrow. It's one of two qualifying events, and those who earn the most points at the events make the Olympic team. But one of the best kayakers on the U.S. national team this weekend doesn't have a shot at competing in London this summer.