Ryan jumps around on the concrete lining the Adventure Sports Center International course in an U.S. Soccer jersey and matching bandanna and American flag face paint. He watched all of this summer’s World Cup and plays soccer, but this is his first time watching slalom canoe or kayak.
When asked which he enjoys more, international soccer or international kayaking, the 7-year-old finally stops moving and takes a few seconds to answer. “Kayaking,” he decides, and goes back to playing on the grass and the tiered seating area.
His mom, Cathy Witt, is impressed that a day at the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships near Deep Creek Lake had such a quick impact on him. Witt saw a posting on Facebook about a world championship just 45 miles from their home in Cumberland, Md., and figured it was worth checking out.
“I figured it’s a once in a lifetime thing, being here and watching it,” she said. “It has an Olympic-feel, and the kids are really into the Olympics so for them to be here and in this type of atmosphere.”