With just two seconds separating the top five men’s finalists in this year’s 8th annual Sickline Extreme race on Austria’s Ötztaler Ache River, the racers were as close to each other racing as they were to their female model companions in the leader-position hot tub at the finish line afterward, where they waited for each other’s scores…
In all, 175 – the most ever — of the world’s best whitewater kayakers headed for the marquee race in Austria, where they vied for top bragging rights and the coveted position in the ceremonial hot tub. for Gerd Serrasolses. The 27-year-old Spainard dominated the event on the Wellebrücke rapids, capturing the world champion title and further cementing his position as a seemingly unstoppable racing machine. Following Serrasolses was England’s David Bain and three-time Sickline Champion Sam Sutton of New Zealand.
For the women, Norway’s Mariann paddled away with the women’s title with a winning time of 1:03.49, ousting Great Britain’s Jennifer Chrimes and the Ukraine’s Alona Buslaieva.
Again, the tight, technical Class V Wellerbrücke rapids, a section of the glacier-fed Ötztaler Ache River, tested paddlers from across the world, enough that mainstays like Pat Keller, Nick Troutman and Isaac didn’t even make the finals. Two of the most notorious ad time-killing are Champions Killer (the final drop of the 280-metre long race course) and Champions Killer Minus 1 (the hole above Champions Killer).
Bain commanded the leader’s position spot in the hot tub until Serrasolses nailed his line, clocking in at 55.34 seconds, the fastest race time of the day and a new course record. “This year I stayed calm,” he says. “Going last is always tricky as it puts more pressure on you. So I tried to stay focused. I knew I could do it. I had two good runs this morning, I was feeling good and I was fired up and ready to go. It’s been an amazing year and to finish off the season like this is a gift.”
Sutton, who’s won the event three times, finished a hair back at 56.19. “Of course you always want to win, but I don’t think I put in the hard work to get on top of the podium,” he says. “I could have been a bit faster in Champions Killer overall but I’m happy with my run so that’s cool. I am so stoked for Gerd…he’s by far the best kayaker on the planet at the moment. He just crushed every single round.”
Info and results: www.adidas-sickline.com