Sonntag, 9. Oktober 2011

Ötztal and Sickline race - Veloc twice on the Podium and most successful boat!

Looking back to the 2011 Adidas Sickline Extreme Kayak World Championships first thought that comes to my mind is that I had great times in the famous Austrian Ötz valley where I spend plenty of weeks this year teaching kayaking. It was great to see so many paddlers from all over the world coming into town just to compete on the Wellerbrücke.

With a starter field of around 140 kayakers out of 25 nations the Sickline race is one of the biggest extreme races in Europe. More and more slalom paddlers who just had their peak of the season few weeks ago in Slovakia came to compete against the whitewater pros. In the end it was full-time whitewater paddler Sam Sutton (NZL) who took home the win followed by Mike Dawson (NZL) and slalom paddler Paul Böckelmann (VELOC) from Germany in third position.

Although the organizer still didn´t manage to setup a own women category down the whole course eight girls showed up. So at least they let us race down the qualification course and ranked us in a separate result list. Martina Wegman from the Netherlands won the women class her third time in a row and slalom paddler Caroline Loir from France came second. Myself (VELOC) had a very bad first run and even my reasonable second run didn´t bring me further up than in third position.

Luckily it´s not all about racing. In the week before the race I had my first time down the whole Wellerbrücke - including the section above the race course. The Wellerbrücke is one of those famous and well known short and steep sections of the Ötz river about which almost every European kayaker knows a story to tell. Some early snow and warm weather with around 25 degrees kept the flow quite high before the race. Usually the section was run at flows less than 180 cm so I first thought that again I will not get it done this year. But having a good team around was pushing the limit and after the first crew went down with a flow around 2 m more and more paddlers followed. So finally I got started, followed the guys and got to know that even the upper part is all good to go. I didn´t end up in a cave, sieve or on some rocks - all stories just fairy-tales again…

All pics by Arnd Schaeftlein