CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - With howling winds and cooler than expected temperatures, thousands of spectators lined the banks of the U.S. National Whitewater Center as athletes from across the nation took to the water for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Canoe/Kayak Slalom (April 8-9). By competition's end, two athletes would solidify their positions on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team.

Coming into the weekend with a point-lead from his 4th place finish at the 2015 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships, two-time Olympian Casey Eichfeld (Drums, PA) knew he could lock up the men's single canoe (C1) Olympic spot by finishing at least 2nd overall in Charlotte. After finishing 2nd behind Zach "Bug" Lokken (Durango, CO) on Friday, Eichfeld put together a phenomenal run Saturday to finish 1st on the day and 1st overall. With the win, Eichfeld booked his ticket to Rio as a member of the U.S. Olympic Canoe/Kayak Team. Rounding out the overall podium were Lokken in 2nd and Tad Dennis (Charlotte, NC) in 3rd. 

Also sporting a significant point lead from his bronze medal at last year's World Championships, Michal Smolen (Gastonia, NC) blew away the competition in the men's single kayak (K1) category. With his win this weekend, Smolen was able to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Canoe/Kayak Team for the first time. Finishing behind Smolen were Richard Powell (Parkesburg, PA) and Tyler Uthus (Darnestown, MD).

In the women's single kayak (K1W) event, 2015 Pan American Games Bronze Medalist Ashley Nee (Darnestown, MD) beat Dana Mann (Alexandria, VA) by the narrowest of margins to take the lead in the Olympic selection process. By winning in Charlotte, Nee holds an advantage coming into the final U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Oklahoma City next month. Finishing 3rd was Anna Maria Ifarraguerri (McLean, VA).

The duo of Devin McEwan (Salisbury, CT) and Casey Eichfeld took the win in the men's double canoe (C2) competition, with the team of Zach "Bug" Lokken and Michal Smolen finishing second. With their victory, McEwan/Eichfeld need to finish at least 2nd at the trials in Oklahoma City to qualify for Rio

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*All nominations to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team are subject to approval by the United States Olympic Committee.

Canoe Slalom