A Fayetteville man — Bryan Kirk — is competing for the United States in the Freestyle Kayaking World Championships in Bryson City, N.C. this week.
Kirk’s sponsors are Wave Sport, NRS, Accent Paddles, Astral Buoyancy.
For more on the competition, visit http://www.freestylekayaking2013.com.
Below is an interview Kirk gave for the event’s official program:
How many times have you competed on the U.S. team?
“This year marks my sixth time competing for the U.S.A. at the Freestyle Worlds.”
What’s it like being able to compete for the U.S. with the Worlds being back in the states finally?
“I’m feeling a lot more confident about the competition this time, as it really feels like Worlds is in my backyard. The Nantahala is only five hours from my home, and I’ve competed there many times before. I’m extra pleased to have made the U.S. Team for this Worlds for this reason, and simply because my entire family can drive down to watch.”
This year at U.S. Team Trials you went from just barely making the cut to finals, to winning the whole thing. Is it fair to say you have the head game down?
“I definitely found my groove when I went from 12th to first in Team Trials. I felt like I had nothing to lose, and removed all the self-pressure I was placing on myself. After all, I could only move in one direction from the bottom! I’m really going to try hard to enter that same mindset during Worlds this year.”
You’ve been in the freestyle game for years now, how do you keep it interesting for yourself?
“The reason I’ve stuck with it so long is I simply love the sport. People who do it for ulterior motives like money, notoriety, free gear, etc. usually lose interest after a couple seasons. Also, paddling fresh designs like the Mobius — which I’ve had a lot of input on — has kept the physical feeling of freestyle kayaking changing for the better for me. It also keeps my head constantly brainstorming new ideas for hull shapes that will push the sport.”
What has training for worlds looked like for you?
“This past winter I had a nice mix of paddling on the New River Dries, creeking and cross training off the river. My freestyle paddling lately has been primarily testing different prototypes of the Mobius on epic river features. I definitely feel like I’m in the best shape of my life, supplemented by having the best freestyle kayak I’ve ever paddled.”
You have a brand new design, in carbon. What’s your verdict on carbon and the new boat?
“You can probably tell from my last answer that I’m in love with the shape of the Mobius. I’ve never paddled a kayak before that allows me to get this kind of pop while at the same time feeling effortless to throw around. As for the material of my Worlds version, carbon-kevlar is the lightest, stiffest material we have to work with — and is perfect for giving me that extra edge that will hopefully help me get on the podium.”
Do you have a competition day routine? Any superstitions?
“I usually try to stay as mentally calm as possible on competition day. Listening to music and not watching/focusing on my competitors’ routines helps a lot with staying relaxed. I don’t have any superstitions, but maybe I should?!”
(The interview and photograph were provided by Ellen Snodgrass of the Swain County Chamber of Commerce.)