To be surrounded by world class paddlers on the slalom courses this spring and summer has been very liberating and a tiny bit humbling – the only way I can possibly win in slalom is to become my very best. And when I say “win” I am not talking about getting anywhere close to the top of a slalom podium – I talk about becoming as good as I can in the discipline.
I headed back to Norway after five weeks of training in Spain in the spring. After a couple of weeks of training sessions on our small course in Voss and teaching a few clinics through my company Soria Moria Adventures, I went to the ICF training camp at Lee Valley, London. The course is awesome – tricky, pushy, hectic and a lot of fun! The best part though was catching up with Martina Wegman – and it was so awesome to see her smoke the Worldcup in Praha a couple of weeks later. I am not sure why I felt so proud, since I have notthing to do with her achievement, but when I watched the run that placed her in 20th after the first round I was jumping up and down in my seat screaming Yeah! So good.
I just wrote another column for the next Kayaksession and the head line reads “The search for failure”. I got inspired to write it from an excellent TedX talk made by Chris Gratmans earlier this year. In a way my column sums up a lot of my thoughts the past year: To actively search out the weak sides and work on them will ensure the process of becoming better overall. As an athlete, yes, but more importantly: as a person. It is not a way that will soothe the ego – but as I grow older I am also learning some lessons in that regard. Where before I felt the need to prove myself – to myself and others – I am now feeling the need to go deeper, and to leave behind the notion of having to compare myself to others. I now compare myself to what I think is my real potential as a kayaker – and as a person. This twist of perception has opened up a whole new world – and I feel very grateful for the journey I am on.
Eventually I headed back into the creeking scene here in Noray which saw me win the Branset Downhilll during the Extremesportweek and the Sjoa Sweet Rumble this past weekend. However, what I am the most proud of and stoked about is my comeback at the 2015 Horgi Ned in the individual class. It is the most bad-ass triathlon I can think of – backcountry skiing – downhill biking and finally whitewater kayaking. To take part you have to master all three disciplines – and the DH biking is definitely where you win or lose the race. In 2012 I injured my shoulder during the race – biking – putting me out of my kayak for ten months. Needless to say – three years later I was quite nervous and focused at the start line. It all went fairly well though, (despite a tumble on the skiis) and my biking has definitely improved a lot, so I pulled off a second place in the race, placing behind the bad-ass chick Kamilla Sporsheim. But in my head – I won big time.
There is no doubt that I am feeling stronger than ever from slalom kayaking – my strokes are better, my body is leaner and my technique sharper. But what was the most surprising part of this summer was how good I felt in my play boat! When Milky Wave decided to come in a couple of weeks ago I jumped in my boat not expecting much – I have playboated very little since the WWGP last year. To my big surprise my blunts and pan-ams were there right away, my clean blunts I had to work on a bit more, the back stabs were there, same with my flashbacks and even my pistol flips. I forgot to try my helix (or the water was just really cold!) and my shoulder was soar so I did not go for any air screws (which are my nemesis!), but still – it is all there. The next day I started looking for tickets for the Worlds in Canada in September.
I am not sure yet whether I will make it to Garberator this september – they have placed the two World Championships really close together this year. My focus is on slalom so I will not jeopardize my hard work in the slalom course if things do not fall nicely into place. If the plane ticket is cheap enough, if I can organize a rental car and a slalom boat so I can train slalom every day as well while being in Canada, and if I can not go to the Stikine instead, I will be there. I will be there with the idea of also doing my best on the wave – but mainly to get a breath of fresh air into my slalom training – to get a break from smashing gates and to see my friends. And to surf one of the best waves in the world. I love Garberator and I have spent endless hours on it in the past. It might be time to get re-united.
Today I fly back to London to train at Lee Valley. After a wee week on the island I will return to Spain and La Seu d´Urgell to prepare for the World cup on that course in august and for the world cup final in Pau, France. The funny thing is that I am looking forward to endless hours smashing gates, hopefully getting faster and seeing my coach tear out his hair in despair when I once again forget the course he has laid out for me. And the best part of it is that I am feeling lucky for the life I live and I am looking forward to the rest of it. I like it a lot, as Juanito would say. Copy that, brother. Miss ya.