The International Canoe Federation has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Uptown Columbus and the American Canoe Association to start negotiations over establishing a hub to serve Canoe Freestyle paddlers and officials. 

ICF President Thomas Konietzko went to the United States to sign the agreement along with Uptown Columbus President and CEO Ed Wolverton and ACA Executive Director Beth Spilman. 

Columbus, Georgia hosted the 2023 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships, which proved to be a great success. 

Looking to leverage the legacy of this event, the MoU seeks to solidify Columbus’ status as a centre of excellence for Canoe Freestyle nationally, regionally and internationally.  

The ambition is to make the Columbus venue the ultimate destination for elite paddlers and the principle US high-performance hub for Canoe Freestyle. 

Four specific high-performance objectives have been agreed by the ICF, ACA and Uptown Columbus as part of the MoU. 

Amplifying high-performance Canoe Freestyle activities within the US and building a strong connection with the local community through compelling education programmes are the first two goals. 

The final two objectives are to attract international communities to utilise the Columbus venue for high-performance training camp and ensure the flawless execution of future major global canoe events. 

Furthermore, the three organisations have pledged to nurture a lasting impact and commit to the enduring growth of Canoe Freestyle. 

USA Dane Jackson freestyle Columbus 2023

“I am delighted to sign this agreement with the ACA and Uptown Columbus,” said Mr Konietzko. 

“This is an exciting opportunity to establish a Canoe Freestyle hub in Columbus after the great success of last year’s World Championships. 

“With anticipation building ahead of the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics, it will be fantastic to work with Uptown Columbus and the ACA to support the continued global growth of paddle sports. 

“This agreement is aligned with our Fit for Future strategy as we look to maximise synergies to develop our sport worldwide and champion the spirit of Canoe Freestyle across the USA and beyond.”   

ICF Vice President Lluis Rabaneda added: “Columbus was an excellent host of the 2023 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships, receiving positive feedback from athletes and officials. 

“As I come from a Canoe Freestyle background, this agreement with Uptown Columbus and the ACA particularly resonates with me as I can see huge potential to grow the sport there and also globally. 

“We are really looking forward to working with Uptown Columbus and the ACA to help elevate Canoe Freestyle to new heights.” 

Mr Wolverton said: “Uptown Columbus, Georgia, is thrilled to partner with ICF to develop and operate a centre of excellence for the freestyle community.   

“Our community has great water features, year-round flows, and a temperate climate all within a walkable town centre.   

“We expect this partnership will introduce more people to freestyle canoe and kayak and grow the sport for paddlers, officials, and spectators in North America and beyond.”  

Mrs Spilman said: “The American Canoe Association is thrilled about the MOU with the ICF and Uptown Columbus to champion the global prominence of Columbus, Georgia as world class freestyle destination.  

“The 2023 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships was a stellar international event, and we look forward to leveraging Columbus to grow athlete participation and the freestyle fan base around the world.” 

The Canoe Freestyle hub in Columbus will be the first of a long list that the ICF Board of Directors want to work on and develop for all disciplines around the globe. 

The hubs will be a way to grow participation and increase the development and performance at all levels for athletes, coaches, officials and organisers. 

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Canoe Freestyle