The Pan American Sport Organization (PASO) made two major announcements last week regarding canoe/kayak and the competition program for the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games.
First, women’s canoe events will be added to the sprint and slalom program. Women currently compete only in kayak events at the Olympic Games. The move is a step toward gender equality in the sport at international competitions.
Second, whitewater slalom will make its Pan American debut in Toronto. Only flatwater sprint events were included at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Joe Jacobi, the CEO of USA Canoe/Kayak expressed that, “The addition of slalom and women’s canoeing for both disciplines to the Pan Am program is an exciting opportunity for our athletes and an important step forward for our sport. We are grateful for the outstanding support of the Pan American Canoe Federation and proud of our own Eric Lokken for his service to these initiatives.”
PASO approved the bid by COPAC to add women’s canoe singles, or C-1, events to both the sprint and slalom programs. U.S. women sprint canoeists are already competing at the Junior and Senior World Championships and the annual Olympic Hopes Regatta.
“This is a great big step forward for our sport. Presently in the U.S., our Under-17/Under-16 [sprint] canoe women are very strong. This announcement will be exciting news to these young women,” said Mac Hickox, USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Development Director.
USA Canoe/Kayak expressed gratitude to Eric Lokken (Durango, Colo.), Pan American Canoe Federation (COPAC) Slalom Chairman and Technical Delegate to the Pan American Games, for his contribution to these efforts.
“The National Federations of the Americas that have not yet incorporated canoe women are once again strongly encouraged to take the necessary actions in order to grant the rights of their girls and women athletes, providing to them the opportunity to participate at all competition levels,” exclaimed Dr. Cecilia Liliana Farias, COPAC President.
USA Canoe/Kayak is a non-profit membership organization based in Oklahoma City, Okla., promoting canoe and kayak racing in the U.S. A member of the United States Olympic Committee, USA Canoe/Kayak is the national governing body for the Olympic sports of Flatwater Sprint and Whitewater Slalom and the official U.S. federation of the International Canoe Federation. Other paddling sports sanctioned by USACanoe/Kayak include Marathon, Freestyle, Wildwater, Stand Up Paddleboard, Canoe Polo, Canoe Sailing, Outrigger, and Dragon Boat. For more information about USA Canoe/Kayak, visit www.usack.org.