Q&A with Caroline Queen 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Nominee for Slalom Kayak

Press Release via Nicholas Olivier

Caroline Queen (Darnestown, Md.) qualified for her first Olympic Games Saturday with a 35th place finish in Women’s Kayak at the Slalom World Cup No. 1 in Cardiff, Wales, June 8-10. The Davidson College student edged out teammate Ashley Nee (Darnestown, Md.), who placed 37th, for the Olympic slot.

Queen and Nee arrived in Cardiff tied in Olympic selection points, but Queen earn the tiebreaker because she initially earned the Olympic slot for Team USA at the 2011 World Championships in Bratislava, Slovakia. Nee would have had to finish in the Top 20 and ahead of Queen this weekend to earn the Olympic spot for herself.

Queen joins slalom kayaker Scott Parsons (Bethesda, Md.), slalom canoeist Casey Eichfeld (Drums, Pa.), and sprint kayakers Carrie Johnson (San Diego, Calif.) and Tim Hornsby (Atlanta, Ga.) as members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Canoe/Kayak Team. The final U.S. boat will be named Sunday – Men’s Double Canoe.

On qualifying for her first Olympics:

“It’s kind of hard to believe at this point. The selection process is so long. This morning I woke up and couldn’t believe it was here. And now that it’s done, I can’t believe that that’s all she wrote. But it is. It’s pretty incredible and I’m really glad that I’m with my family to share the moment and my teammates and coaches and staff and everybody.”

On her two runs Saturday:
“The first one had one mistake on it. I just wasn’t being very patient. But the second run, I just was in the start and like, ‘just buckle down, just do the run, don’t try to do anything fancy, just do the course.’ And that’s what I did. I don’t think it was good enough to actually qualify [for the semifinal] at the [World Cup] race, but it was good enough to secure the spot for the U.S. [Olympic] team and that’s what I came for.”

On the Olympic selection process:
“The first qualifying race was the Worlds [Championships in Bratislava, Slovakia]. It was a bit complicated for me because it was during my first semester of my sophomore year and I needed to take some time off from school. I just edged in and secured the country spot for the U.S. at that race. And then the [Olympic] Team Trials in Charlotte, I wasn’t quite consistent enough to secure first place there. So that put a little bit of stress on me, because Ashley Nee and I, the top two women in the U.S., were tied. I had the tie breaker because I qualified the slot initially, back in Bratislava. As it turns out, I have fallen back onto that tiebreaker point. So it all goes back to the Worlds, really.”

On her competition with fellow Darnestown-native Ashley Nee:
“It’s kind of unfortunate because neither of us qualified [for the semifinal]. And I had really hoped that, for the health of the program, that both of us would have qualified and it would have been very neck-and-neck in the Top 20. But that’s not really how it played out today. Fortunately, I had the good momentum going from the Worlds to push through and secure the Olympic spot.”

On her plans between now and London:
“I go home on Monday afternoon and will be training there. I believe I’ll head back to Europe sometime at the end of the month to train in both Pau [France] and London, in preparation of the Games. I regret that I will miss the U23 Worlds [Championships] in Wausau [Wisconsin], but, strategically, it just doesn’t really make sense for pursuing the Olympics to the best of my ability.”

On her support group in Wales:
“I was very excited. My parents came over, it’s the first time they’ve ever seen me race internationally. So it was really great to have them here to share the moment.”

Joe Jacobi, USA Canoe/Kayak CEO: “Before I worked at USA Canoe/Kayak, I had the privilege of coaching Caroline and Ashley. The depth of these young women is beyond words and, as intense as competition can be among lifelong friends, they handle it as well as anyone I’ve ever seen. I know Caroline will embrace the best of the Olympic movement and will drive to the best her paddling of her young career in London.”

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