Bethesda’s Scott Parsons and Darnestown’s Ashley Nee won gold medals and Parsons took a commanding lead in Olympic qualification as racing concluded Saturday at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Whitewater Slalom in Charlotte, N.C.
Both will have the chance to clinch Olympic team berths in solo kayak at the final Olympic selection event June 8-12, a world cup in Cardiff, Wales. Nee is tied with Darnestown’s Caroline Queen, who finished second at the trials, in the race for the women’s slot.
Parsons, a two-time Olympian who entered the Thursday through Saturday trials with an edge after having qualified the Olympic slot at last year’s world championships, posted the fastest time on the third day of competition to sew up the gold. His penalty-free second run time of 93.96 clinched the win and the 30 Olympic qualification points that come with it.
James Wade of Boise, Idaho, and 2004 Olympian Brett Heyl of Norwich, Vt., will have to finish in the top 20 and higher than Parsons in Cardiff to overtake Parsons for the Olympic slot.
“It was a long pressure-filled three days of racing and I am happy to have come out of it with some good performances and am now looking forward to preparing for the final stage in our Olympic selection process,” Parsons said in a release from USA Canoe/Kayak.
Queen and Nee head into the world cup tied with 30 Olympic qualification points. Queen owns the tiebreaker for initially earning the slot for Team USA at the 2011 world championships, so Nee must finish in the top 20 and above Queen to win the Olympic berth at the London Olympics this summer..
Queen recorded the fastest time each of the first two days, but Nee claimed first overall by winning on day three by a large margin.
“I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life right now,” Nee said. “My dad told me to do that and that’s what I did.”