Extreme kayakers from around the globe gathered to seek out the “Sickline” — the fastest, smoothest and most direct line down the Otz river. Now in it’s sixth year, the Adidas Sickline Extreme Kayak World Championships is currently the world’s premier competition that allows kayakers to showcase skill and speed against one another head to head. An event that combines paddling prowess and adrenaline, the unique competition attracts some of the world’s best slalom and freestyle paddlers.
Held on the “Wellerbrucke” river section in Austria’s Oetztal Valley on October 3 -5, the race traveled down Tyrol’s longest alpine valley, one of the most sophisticated whitewater sections in the world. Solid Class 5 whitewater was both technically difficult and dangerous. The glacier-fed river is home to two of the most feared and respected rapids: Champions Killer and Champions Killer Minus 1. The race is for paddlers who, “respect the river as much as they want to conquer it,” according to the event’s website.
Competitors from 24 countries thrashed it out in a thrilling battle that took on a head-to-head format, with only the best racers moving forward in the competition.
In the men’s division, 150 paddlers are reduced to 48 finalist, then the fastest 26, then finally the top 15 for the superfinal, where anyone has the chance to earn a spot on the podium. The course proved no match for the 2013 Champion, 24-year old Joe Morley, of Great Britain, who managed to finish a full 3 seconds faster (56.10) than the seemingly unbeatable returning 3-time Champion, Sam Sutton, the 25-year old from New Zealand (59:31). Second place in the men’s category went to 21-year old Daniel Klotzner of Italy (56.56) and third place to Egor Voskoboynikov, the 27-year old Russian paddler (57.51).
Nouria Newman of France was crowned Sickline Queen 2013, competing against 12 other females, the largest number of women’s competitors that the Sickline Competition has seen to date. The 22-year old Newman (1.08.94) was followed by runner-up Toni George, 25 from New Zealand (1.10.06), while 24-year old Martina Wegman of the Netherlands (1.12.19) rounded out the podium in third place. For the first time in event history, the top 5 females were allowed to duke it out in the upper Wellerucke section, where previously only the top three were permitted. This change is a welcomed move forward for the female athletes, as evident by the remarks from Nouria Newman after qualifying for the finals, “Yes! We get to run the fun part!”
The level of competition was matched only by the level of fun. Athletes were treated to the Champions Party, the Big-O Movie Night, where Olaf “Big-O” Obsommer presented the season’s best kayak films, along with complimentary physiotherapy at the Adidas Reload Centre, one of the many perks offered to create an all-encompassing experience for the participants in the picturesque town of Oetz.
For more information on the event, click here.