Finally after 2 years of waiting for the next World Championships to happen, it has now begun!! The opening Ceremonies took place last night in Bryson City, NC, a normally very sleepy town in Western North Carolina. With 30 countries present, a ton of townspeople, media, VIPs, sponsors, ICF officials, Cherokee Performers, and vendors, the venue was a great choice. We started at NOC by loading up on rafting busses for the 20 minute ride in. It was 90 degrees outside and the ice cream and shaved ice vendors made hay on the athletes!
We waited from 5 until 6pm, getting the parade organized, talking to the other teams, and wondering what they had in store for us. The local high school band played and lead the parade of countries, with a young local kid leading each country one by one through the main street to the bridge over the river. Everyone was in good spirits and having fun. The reality of the competition hit us and there is no turning back! Team USA had a great reception from so many people that it reminded me how much fun it is to have a World Championships in your own country. I have competed in two worlds in the USA prior to this one, 1989 Savage River Worlds for slalom, and the 1993 Freestyle Worlds on the Ocoee. Those were 20 and 24 years ago, however!
We ended the parade on the bridge and realized that we were WAY far away from the stage where the dignitaries talked. That part of the opening ceremonies were not at all well planned. We marched up into a big crowd, but had no idea what was going on, as the stage was not elevated and we were on a bridge. I eventually decided to get into the “mosh pit” and it took me about 5 minutes to excuse myself up to the front, snuck behind the stage and captured a short video of the Cherokee performance (with Athletes participating). I did miss my favorite part of the opening ceremonies, however, the part where Lluis, the ICF Committee Chair says, “I now declare the 2013 World Championships “OPEN” and they play the ICF anthem and raise the flag. I know it happened because I heard the cheers, however!
Here is a video showing off some of the action…. meanwhile Junior men just started and Alec Vorhees from the USA is in first, and Bennet Smith in second after 5 heats! More heats to come soon!