CULLOWHEE – Two of Western Carolina University’s high-achieving students recently paddled their kayaks to top finishes at the Whitewater Slalom U.S. Team Trials in Durango, Colo., earning them spots on the national whitewater slalom team and giving each a boost toward the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Bryson City residents Scott Mann and Jamie Tidmore, both 22, were among 55 of the country’s top whitewater paddlers who competed June 10-12 in men’s and women’s kayak, canoe and tandem canoe, with the top three finishers in each class making the national team.
Mann is a junior political science major, while Tidmore is a senior majoring in biology. Both students earned places on Western’s dean’s list this past spring semester, and Mann was among the university’s representatives at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research held in the spring.
During competition on the Animas River, Mann placed third in men’s kayak, while Tidmore recorded a second-place finish in women’s kayak. Both paddlers will join their teammates in competing in the International Canoe Federation World Cup series starting July 8 on the Olympic course in Athens, Greece. The team also will compete in the World Championships in Penrith, Australia, in September.
Mann told the Asheville Citizen-Times that winning spots on the national team was the first step toward his and Tidmore’s goals of competing in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.
“The goal is always in mind,” Mann said. “We’re at the beginning of the four-year cycle, getting ready in hopes that when the Olympics come around again, we’ll be all the more prepared.”