I did not find much time this summer to update my blog, but as I am sipping a glass of wine on the coast of Spain, there is time. My mum and I are on holidays, the first one together in seven years. Happiness!
The past year has been a whirlwind. I started my final degree in practical pedagogic studies, and finished my master thesis on Queen Margaret I of Denmark. (!) This winter, as the past one, I have to attend classes in Norway, and can therefor not be on the road like I have grown all too used to! So, I decided I might as well make some money and get some experience teaching while I finish up my degree. What a ride! My students are amazing, challenging (in a few different ways, but all good) and my subjects this year are Norwegian, Spanish and Social sciences. I teach 16-19 year old youths and enjoy it thoroughly. They will have their exams in may, while my last exam is on the 7th of June. (One that will conclude 9 years of being a full-time student.. )
So then what?
I am taking a year off. At least. It will be my first year not studying, and I will simply kayak, enjoy life, travel and write. There are some exiting projects that I want to get going, ones that I have planned for years now. It is time. But first… head down, study and work, study and work. (and kayak)
This past summer my shoulder held up well. After a great week at the Voss Extremesportweek, where I managed to race well and had a good time up there with the men, I headed to Iceland with Katrina van Wijk, Shannon Carroll and Martina Wegman. We only had a short week to spare, and we were filming with Nuit de la Glisse for their upcoming video. You can watch the trailer “Imagine” here:
We had an amazing time driving around the island with the frenchies, using very high-tech camera equipment to make us look good. Mainly we stayed in the Godafoss area as that is where the water was. It was a very cold summer, and the runs we planned on doing on the east coast were snowed in and dry! Crazy. My personal highlight came when Shannon and myself decided to run Ullarfoss, which at that flow had a tricky lip. I saw the line, felt it and nailed it. (Even if I swam at the bottom because the spray skirt blew off..) Shannon followed suit, but chose a slightly different approach, making her land backwards and partially up-side down. Trooper as she is, she shook it off, went back up and nailed it on the second attempt. Thanks to Katrina and Martina for doing safety!
After a bad TL-call from my side we left the area without running Aldeyarfoss, and I was kicking myself hard as we realised the east coast was dry. We did not have enough time to make it back to the airport if we backtracked to Aldeyarfoss, and still see the rest of what was to be seen, including Waterfall of Thieves at Burfell. So it got left behind, but hopefully for the last time. Time will come to run the beast.
Iceland was a great adventure with the girls and the film crew, and I zapped back over to Norway for a 12 hours lay-over before I suddenly was on the plane to Novosibirsk, Russia. No rest for the wicked! Ron Fishcer, Jasper Polak, Matt Basso, Benjamin Hjort, Bobby Frieser and myself were going to spend a glorious month in the Golden Mountains (Altay) running the whitewater and enjoying endless campfires, banyas and vodka. (actually beer..) I am not going to blog too much about this trip, but rather tell you to get your hands on the next Kayaksession, as my article from this amazing adventure will be in there. It includes steaming banyas, swims, car drownings, the rowdiest creek race on the planet and endless good memories from a region that simply blew my mind. Go get it!
So what about freestyle? Slalom?
I decided not to go to the freestyle Worlds at the NOC because I am still feeling a bit tired of small features. The Worlds in Plattling killed my drive, at least for now. On a different note, I am going to Uganda with Nouria Newman and Katrina van Wijk in December, to surf our brains out on Nile Special. Woop-woop!
When it comes to slalom.. Well, there were some issues with the federation, and my anticipated participation in the World Cup Finals in Bratislava fell through. I trained all spring, early summer, still trained after Russia, and will enjoy doing it a lot more this fall. I do have my eyes on some slalom goals for next year, as I have to say it is a sport I really enjoy. My technique is slowly getting better, my strokes better (also when it comes to creeking as a benefit from pulling on the slalom blade!) and timing is getting there. The issue is how to organize training… No coaches in Norway to help, no money to go to training camps and very few to train with. However, there IS a small community in Norway now, that is slowly growing. It is amazing to see, and I think we will within a few years again have a slalom base of young paddlers. Until then.. I try my best, to become the best I can be, also in slalom. (I did win the Norwegian Championships, but that wasn´t too hard with a minimum amount of girls competing.. I was 3rd in the Men´s though.)
I think I am going to race a lot next year. It might be time to not do the Oktoberfest and then race Sickline, along with Green Race. I am hungry for competitions and want to go fast. Due to my exams in June I can not race the North Fork of the Payette, but I am trying really hard to clear my schedule for the Grand Prix in May. Fingers crossed. Then we talk about moving to Chile for half a year… ski in Switzerland, go back to Peru, find time to return to Russia, multiday adventures (and Aldeyarfoss) in Iceland, run all rivers flowing of Norway´s second biggest glaciar in the north, do the Stikine, explore BC, China, Colombia… Live where? Have no idea. Norway, Switzerland, Chile or somewhere in between. Ron might continue his company in Voss, I might just hibernate then in Raundalen and finally write my book. (And paddle full time!) Soo…. Life is exciting!
So, that is it. There were some amazing adventures this past summer, there were some disappointments, some tough life-choices to be made (not easy to step into 100 percent job, even if only temporarily, when I have been a kayaker since the age of 18..), but… Life is grand, I am enjoying it to the fullest, and I fell extremely blessed to have a man that I can share the river adventures with. Also stoked to live in a place where I have world class whitewater just outside my house to enjoy whenever I am finished with work. Nothing beats the Train Station section on the Raundalselva and the other sections. (Only Futaleufu) Pluss paragliding. Pluss hiking. Pluss skiing. Pluss.. Pluss…
Another homerun on the Raundalen.. Me running Nosebreaker this fall:
Saludos de Epsaña,