The Nantahala Racing Club (NRC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion and development of whitewater canoe and kayak sport. The NRC assists athletes of every age, level and ability in their preparation for national and international competition including US Team Trials, National Championships, World Championships, World Cup, and the Olympic Games.
Located in the mountains of Western North Carolina on the Nantahala River, NRC has long been one of whitewater slalom's premier training sites. The whitewater of the Nantahala River, the proximity to the Ocoee River and nearby Western Caronlina University all have made NRC one of the top competitive paddle-sport clubs in the nation. As a whitewater site, the Nantahala is home to several annual competitions including the Glacier Breaker Slalom and Downriver Race; the Bank of America Whitewater US Open; and the Jiffy Slalom. NRC hosted the 2004 and 2005 Junior National Team Trials and several Junior Olympic Regional Qualifiers. NRC was also designated as a USA Canoe/Kayak (USACK) Center of Excellence which signifies it preminence and importance to the development of competitive whitewater paddlers.
The main focus areas of the NRC are the training and development of competitive whitewater athletes in both Slalom and Wildwater (downriver) genres. However to Join NRC, one need not be either. The club is open to any and and all people interested in paddling, the outdoors, or supporting the club. As a member, one can receive coaching, instruction, help out as a volunteer or judge at competitions. As a supporter, one aids the club in its goal to train and develop both youth and adult paddling champions.
The Training Sites
One of NRC's central functions involves the development and maintenance of high level training facilities. To this end, NRC has several training sites open to use by NRC athletes on a year-round basis.
- Nantahala River: There are two main training sites on the Nantahala River. Both are centrally located around the Nantahala Outdoor Center in Wesser, NC. The Nantahala Falls is a class 2-3 stretch of river which generally has gates from November until May. This is both the full length training location and the race site for the Glacier Breaker, US Open and any other nationally significant race the NRC hosts.
- NRC also maintains several sites on the Tuckaseegee River, including one in Bryson City, one located directly behind Western Carolina University and another on its east fork East Fork
Notable NRC Achievements
- The sole US C-1 in the 2004 Olympic Games is an NRC member.
- The 2004 National Champion and US Olympic Alternate for mens kayak is an NRC Member.
- At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, over 60% of the U.S. Olympic Whitewater Team and the 2000 Olympic Whitewater Coach were from NRC.
- The NRC was host to the 2001 Junior Olympics Whitewater Slalom Race in Bryson City, NC and has hosted Junior Olympic Qualifiers every years since.
- Junior-level athletes from the NRC won Gold, Silver and Bronze medals at the 1999 and 2000 Junior Olympics.
- Cadet-level athletes of the NRC have been on the U.S. National Team each year for the past five years.
- The Rhinos won the National Club Trophy at the National Championships for three years in a row (1997-1999) for best team achievement in slalom racing.
- More 1996 U.S. Olympic Whitewater Team Members trained at the NRC than any other training center in the country.
- Competitively, NRC members participated in every National and World Slalom Championship and Olympic Games since 1967.
- Every U.S. medal in the 1994 Junior World Championships and the 1995 Junior Pre-World Championships was won by NRC members.
- In the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, Rhinos Joe Jacobi and Scott Strausbaugh won the only Olympic Gold medal ever achieved by the U.S. in whitewater slalom.
- Rhino team mate Scott Shipley won the 1995 World Cup gold medal and garnered a silver medals in the 1998 and 1999 World Cup while training at the Nantahala.
In 1989, the NRC was designated by the US Canoe and Kayak Team as an official "Center of Excellence" for slalom athletes. The USACK designed this program to help develop, recruit ,and train slalom athletes to become National Team and Olympic Team members. The Center provides programs and a healthy training atmosphere for the development of future champions. The USACK promotes financial independence for its training centers requiring them to solicit their own funding. Continued program and athlete funding is based on sponsor support and the athlete's ranking at the U.S. National Team Trials.
1972 Olympic Team member. Paddled C-2 with Tom Southworth. 1973 US Team coach. 1979 National Team. Paddled C-2 with Rhino legend Gordon Grant.
1981 World Champion, C-2 Wildwater with Mike Hipsher. Helped develop American Canoe Association (ACA) instructor program.
1981 World Champion, C-2 Wildwater with Bunny Johns. International river runner extraoardinaire. Mike has been a key wildwater coach and promoter over the years.
1972, 1976, 1980 Olympic Team member.
Fritz and Lecky Haller
1983 World Champions, C-2 Slalom 1992 Olympic Team, Fritz served as team coach, guiding Joe Jacobi and Scott Strausbaugh to their Gold Medal performance and Lecky participated with Jamie McEwan to earn fourth place in the C-2. 1996 World Cup overall 3rd place 1996 World Ranking. Lecky once served as NRC's full time coach. He was a member of the Sydney 200 team with teammate Matt Taylor.
1984, 1988 Olympic team member. Rodeo Champion. Owner of Expeditiones Chile.
Joe Jacobi and Scott Strausbaugh
1987-1992 National Team members. 1992 Olympic Gold Medal winners, C-2 Slalom. Joe recently retired after his second Olympic experience.
3 Time World Cup Champion. 3 Time Olympic Team member. 9 Time National Champion, 3 Time World Champion Silver Medallist.
1991 Silver Medal, World Championships 1992, 1996 Olympic Team member, 1996 World Cup Winner.
1992 Olympic Team alternate.
Horace Holden and Wayne Dickert
1992 Olympic Team first alternates, 1996 Olympic Team members, C-2 Slalom. Wayne served as NRC Executive Director from 1993 to 1996, and now serves as Nantahala Outdoor Center Head of Instruction. Horace was the NRC director in 1997.