Starting Thursday, the U.S. National Sprint Team will compete for World Championship medals and Olympic spots at the 2011 ICF Sprint World Championships in Szeged, Hungary, Aug. 17-21.
Visit http://szeged2011.com/ to find LIVE streaming video, results and startlists. The opening ceremonies take place Wednesday evening.
For two-time Olympian Carrie Johnson (San Diego, Calif.) and the more experienced paddlers, the World Championships offer a chance to take the next step toward their Olympic dreams. The 2011 World Championship and the 2011 Pan American Games are currently the only two events in which Team USA can qualify boats for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Members qualified for the U.S. World Championships Team through various events, including the National Team Trials in Chula Vista, Calif., April 22-23, and the Lake Placid International Regatta in Lake Placid, N.Y., July 2-4. Much of the team has been training in Italy for the past week.
Nearly all U.S. athletes competed in the 2011 Sprint National Championships earlier this month in Gainesville, Ga. Leading the way for Team USA are kayakers Luke Michael (Kailua, Hawaii) and Maggie Hogan (San Diego, Calif.), who garnered seven and five 2011 National Championship titles, respectively.
Cedric Bond (Tacoma, Wash.), Men's Kayak - "I am extremely excited and, to be honest, a little nervous going into my first World Championships. I'm with a great crew of guys here, and we're all expecting some good results and some excellent performances. Over this last week of training in Pusiano [Italy], David Petrovics and my K-2 [boat] has gotten faster every practice. I believe I will have the best performance of my life this week. I'm planning on making a solid debut on the international scene."
Jen Burke (San Diego, Calif.), Women's Kayak - "Well, we just arrived after a long day of traveling. Italy was beautiful and awesome for training. But now I'm really excited to get to the course tomorrow and get in our boats and paddle out the last few mental run-through's before the racing starts on Thursday. All the girls in my team boats are ready with the race plan and confident in each other to execute the plan as best as possible. So we are now just really excited to get out and do it and see how we go up against the best in the world."
Pat Dolan (Kailua, Hawaii), Men's Kayak: "The team focus for this year's World Championships is qualifying as many boats possible for the 2012 Olympic Games. Each member of our team has worked hard this year in preparing for this weekend."
Emily Vinson (Gainesville, Ga.), Women's Kayak: "We just arrived in Szeged, Hungary and will be heading down to the race course tomorrow morning. We are all feeling very energized and confident. Both Morgan and I will be racing in K-4s trying to qualify for the Olympics. We must [finish in the] top 10 in the world in order to qualify. We are all chomping at the bit, awaiting our races. We train almost every day, twice a day, all for a race that lasts less than 1 minute, 40 seconds. It's exciting to think about how much work has gone into preparation for this event. We just want to qualify more than anything."
Robert Finlayson (Gainesville, Ga.), Men's Canoe: "I just like to keep in mind that I will do my best no matter who I am lined up next to or how the racing conditions are. If I do my best, then I will have nothing to feel bad about, so that is what I must do. I hope to gain confidence and experience from this regatta and it will show me where I am in relation to other countries and what I need to do working up to the Pan American Games in late October, which is the Continental qualifier for London 2012."
National Team Coach Guy Wilding: "In sprint canoe, the Olympic qualification process is extremely tough and this is without a doubt the toughest regatta since 2007. The 2011 World Cups were a rebuilding phase for USA Canoe/Kayak. But based on their great World Cup results this year, both Carrie Johnson and Kriszta Zur should fare well at this year's World Championships. The men's K-4 1000m crew continues to improve. They have produced some great times in training and I expect them to be competitive here. Likewise, the men's K-2 200m pairing of Tim Hornsby and Ryan Dolan. They have not been together as a K-2 pairing for very long but they are producing plenty of power and have the potential to do well."
National Team Coach Shaun Caven: "Congratulations to the great athletes that made the team. Many team members are young and the World Championships provide an excellent opportunity for them to grow and develop for the future. Team USA has improved greatly in the last two years. We plan to field a more competitive team than at the 2009 and 2010 World Championships. We continue to develop better boats."
USA Canoe/Kayak CEO Joe Jacobi: "We have a terrific team of young athletes ready to start the Olympic qualification process at one of the legendary Sprint racing venues. Our athletes and coaches have overcome great challenges this past year and we're confident they will be ready to compete at their best at these World Championships."
Carrie Johnson (San Diego, Calif.) - K1 200m, K1 500m
Maggie Hogan (San Diego, Calif.) - K2 500m
Ariel Farrar-Wellman (Bethesda, Md.) - K2 500m
Jen Burke (San Diego, Calif.) - K4 500m
Kaitlyn McElroy (Oklahoma City, Okla.) - K4 500m
Emily Vinson (Gainesville, Ga.) - K4 500m
Nicole Mallory (West Henrietta, N.Y.) - K4 500m
Luke Michael (Kailua, Hawaii) - K4 1000m
Jake Michael (Kailua, Hawaii) - K4 1000m
Morgan House (Gainesville, Ga.) - K4 1000m, K1 200m
Pat Dolan (Kailua, Hawaii) - K4 1000m
Ryan Dolan (Kailua, Hawaii) - K2 200m
Tim Hornsby (Atlanta, Ga.) - K2 200m
Rich Sprout (Costa Mesa, Calif.) - K1 1000m
David Petrovics (Bethesda, Md.) - K2 1000m
Cedric Bond (Tacoma, Wash.) - K2 1000m
Robert Finlayson (Gainesville, Ga.) - C1 200m, C1 1000m
Ben Hefner (Gainesville, Ga.) - C2 1000m
Ian Ross (Bethesda, Md.) - C2 1000m
Krisztina Zur (Newport Beach, Calif.) - K1 1000m, K1 5000m
Ariel Farrar-Wellman - K2 200m
Maggie Hogan - K2 200m
Jen Burke - K2 1000m
Kaitlyn McElroy - K2 1000m
Alejandro Schwedhelm (Potomac, Md.) - C4 1000m, C1 5000m
Robert Finlayson - C4 1000m, C1 500m
Ben Hefner - C4 1000m, C2 500m, C2 200m
Ian Ross - C4 1000m, C2 500m, C2 200m
Richard Sprout - K1 500m
David Petrovics - K2 500m
Cedric Bond - K2 500m
Luke Michael - K1 500m
USA Canoe/Kayak is proud to launch "Ascend As One," an exciting campaign in which we inspire the next generation of U.S. paddlers by supporting our current Olympic Hopefuls. Our Sprint Clubs and Community are teaming up to make sure our athletes can focus on what's most important - winning medals on the international stage and representing the United States with pride. To contribute, click HERE and select "Ascend As One" from the drop down menu. 100% of all donations directly benefit our Sprint National Program Athletes and Coaches.
USA Canoe/Kayak is a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Canoe Federation. It governs the Olympic disciplines of Flatwater Sprint and Whitewater Slalom and sanctions Freestyle, Marathon, Outrigger, Wildwater, Kayak Polo, Dragon Boat and Canoe Sailing in the United States. For more information about USA Canoe/Kayak, please visit us on the web at www.usack.org and on Facebook and Twitter.