The Pan American Sport Organization (PASO) made two major announcements on Feb. 8 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.
USA Canoe/Kayak wishes to thank 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.
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.
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for additional coverage on this development, including responses from top U.S. women's canoe athletes.
Mac Hickox, USA Canoe/Kayak Sprint National Development Director: "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."
Casey Eichfeld, two-time U.S. Olympian - Men's Slalom Canoe: "I am really excited for slalom to be in the 2015 Pan Am Games. It is going to be great to have another large race to add to the competition schedule. I am glad to have another high-pressure competition to help me grow as an athlete. It is also exciting because women's canoe will be included, an important step in the possible inclusion in future Olympics."
Joe Jacobi, USA Canoe/Kayak CEO: "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."
Dr. Cecilia Liliana Farias, COPAC President: "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."
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