Why slalom?

”So, why do you do slalom?”

The question has arrived in many forms over the past years. Some ask because they are curious, some ask because they think it is a bit silly that I keep doing it without going for it 100 %, some are fascinated that it is possible to do the cross over, and some just think I am naive since I keep trying without much hope of making it anywhere large in the competitive world of slalom.

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Enjoying the slalom gates in Voss, Norway


Well, there are three main reasons. The first and the most important one is that I think it is a lot of FUN. The second reason is because I believe in bettering myself throughout my life. The third reason is that I truly believe in transferability between disciplines.

In my opininon it is very healthy once in a while to get immersed into something which one is not that good at. It serves as a reality check and a reminder of humbleness. I find it amazing to be able to run the same slalom courses as the best in the world, and I try hard to reach toward the fluidity and grace I see in slalom.


Dag Sandvik finding his inner beast through a flatwater gate…


It is also a mental challenge because I can easily feel like the worst kayaker in the world while being on the course, and it is hard when the coach picks on my errors during every session. But it is up to me to stay positive and to realise that I am benefitting in every way by being coached. The trick is to remember that I do not need to compare myself to the others on the course. I simply need to better myself, not to be better than anybody else. That is a very liberating realisation for somebody as naturally competitive as myself.


Staying positive


Slalom is by far my weakest discipline in the sport of kayaking, and oddly enough it is also where I get the most personal gain at the moment. That is why I am spending five weeks here in La Seu d´Urgell, Spain, to see where that takes me. At the moment the good days are fewer than the less good days, but nevertheless there are always glimpses of improvement even in tough sessions. These glimpses serve to remind me that I am on the right track.


Enjoying Gladiator, White Water Grand Prix 2014


To become better in one discipline actually means getting better in the other two. A good forward stroke is essential also in creeking and freestyle, to be able to surf a wave or a hole is needed in slalom and creeking, and the mental focus of running class five certainly helps in slalom and freestyle competitions. I have always tried to do it all, and not just in kayaking. Over the years I have learned that this might not be too easy in real life, but when it comes to kayaking I still mainly see the benefits from this approach.

Yes, when you change in between creeking, freestyle and slalom it is harder to become good fast, simply because it takes a longer time. But that was never my main objective – to become World Champion on a given day.

My objective has always been to become my very best – and for me that means combining it all to become a complete paddler. And person.


First descent of the double drop “Big Girl” in Eidsåa – Norway


So here I am, spending my days in La Seu d´Urgell, Spain, searching for fluidity, grace and a few good up-streams… Then we will see where this adventure takes me.


See you downstream!