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EJ at "Champion's Killer", 2011 Sickline Race

Dane, Nick, and I arrived last night in Oetz, Austria with our Zen 65, 75, and 75, plus an extra Zen 75 for the Olympic silver medalist in slalom this year.     We got here, broken from the Kanumesse show, staying up late, and not kayaking for 4 days, and drinking too much beer.    All three of us took it easy last night, getting a good warm up, etc.. on the river before pushing it too hard.   Dane and Nick less than me by a lot, but they’ll learn eventually, that you can do more harm than damage on a first workout after a big travel, or any time off.     Isaac Levinson was here and did two laps as well.

We heard rumors that the middle section of the course changed during floods from last year and there is a very beefy hole in it now.    The rumors were true.   The hole is a major challenge for this year, but not in of itself.   The entire rapid above it is “stacked” as Dane describes it with a long series of rocks and hard places on top of each other leading into this big hole.    The crux move from last year was mellow after it (more or less) but this year a rock rolled out of there and created way more gradient in that spot and no clean line.  The entire river, from left to right is either a big hole in the middle, or slots with holes, boils, or kicker “F/U” rocks that don’t make for an option.   That leads into a big rock that has a hole/eddy behind it in the middle and every line except far left pushes you into this rock, which is right above the new main, river wide pourover hole that you won’t get through unless you have speed and a good boof.    If you get through that new big hole, but not perfectly, you get typewritered to the right around the next pile of rocks and lose 5 seconds and lose the race.    Whew!   The middle section is STACKED any way you look at it.  Yes, you can bonk down it and survive without an “incident” with some consistency, but only those with laser focus, top skills, and a little luck (having their better lines during the race) will run this section from the lead in, to the exit of the hole  on the line they have chosen and keep their boat speed up enough to be considered a “good line”.     Dane had one run yesterday that was absolutely beautiful.     Made it look easy.   He got quite a confident boost on that and feels that it is pretty easy that way.   If anyone will consider it easy, it will be him, who is in a place in his paddling where things all come together nicely, or he makes a bad line turn good really quick.    He is also the only one who was stuck in the new hole in a side surf yesterday (at Kanumesse we heard that it was a very bad idea to be in this hole- so I think most people are very afraid to be in their sideways… the playboater’s advantage… but I don’t want to be in there- it is game over for the race if you do, of course)

Watch this video from training last year that Nick made.    The carnage runs you see are the section that I am describing to you here, BUT it is last year when it was WAY easier.    Dane charged up his camera and you will see some good (better) carnage once we start filming this year as this same section just got ratcheted up a notch or two!

This year we have the Zen to race and the three of us are SO FIRED UP to race it as the advantage is ours.     Sam and Mike raced the Bliss Stick Tuna last year, which was the best creekboat for extreme racing.      The Zen wasn’t finished yet and we made sure we had something that would do the trick for racing and give us the advantage.

Look for some training videos, but our coverage will ramp up as we get closer to the event which is October 5th.  We are here for a couple of days, then go to Sort, Spain for the Noguerra Palleresa River Festival for 4 days, then back here.

Here is last year’s video leading up to the race: