In early October, 171 of the best creek boaters in the world met on Austria’s Oetztaler Auch River for the Adidas Sick Line Extreme Kayaking World Championships. Unfortunately, the event was canceled after water levels were deemed too high and German paddler Tim Weinmann was killed training on a section above the race course in the days preceding. We talked with Tao Berman – who was competing – to get the low-down on the events incredible potential, and sad cancellation.
PL: What did you think about the race course?
TB: It would have been an awesome event. There were two courses. One was a Class IV section for qualifiers, which would have cut 171 paddlers down to 50. We then would have moved down to a Class V stretch for the finals. It was an incredible river.
PL: Did you hear how Weinmann died?
TB: He was above the race course, flipped and went over a drop upside down. They didn’t find the body for a few days after.
PL: How did that make you feel? About racing, about boating?
TB: For me, I recognize paddling is a dangerous sport. My heart went out to his family and the people who knew him. But people die in all sorts of ways all the time and paddling is no exception. I was there to race and win, regardless of the circumstances.
PL: Is this a big momentum breaker for a creeking world championships as this was the first? The concept seemed really solid.
TB: Only time will tell. I don’t think it was that big of a momentum breaker. I talked to some Adidas people and I think they’re going to move forward next year. I felt bad for the organizers. It was one of the most well organized events I’d ever been to and a creeking world championships is long overdue. They did a great job and they really had no choice but to cancel. The water was just too high for the government permit (they’d set a maximum level before the event). I’m excited about this concept though. It’s good for the sport and it’s good for everybody involved.
PL: What are your plans now?
TB: I’m getting ready to go down to Chile to film for a television show (on Rush TV) with a group of kayakers. It should be a good time.
As told to Joe Carberry – 10/23/2007