As general manager of the Nantahala Outdoor Center’s paddlesports and outdoor school, Chris Hipgrave understands the business side of whitewater. As a longtime Team USA paddler as well as a competitive surfskier, he sees paddlesports from the athlete’s perspective, and as former Olympic High Performance Director of USA Canoe/Kayak, he has also played the role of race official and coach, even planning and executing all canoe and kayak activities for the 2008 Beijing Games.

Hipgrave, who moved from his homeland of Great Britain specifically to find better river access, has traveled the world in search of new places to paddle his kayak and expand his sport, venturing as far as the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. However, his adopted hometown of Bryson City always calls him back. Blue Ridge Outdoors has named him Athlete of the Year twice.

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