The battle of Colosseum

The first stage of the White Water Grand Prix was held on the infamous Colosseum rapid. My first encounter with the main feature of the rapid, the wave Gladiator, was last year during the Ottawa XL. I came straight out of ten months injury and entered one of the best big volume competitions in the world. I was stoked, but not very strong. During the XL I struggled to catch Gladiator during the freestyle event, and even though I was bummed I also knew I was not as strong as normal after my injury. 2014 was the year of redemption.

Last monday we lined up to surf Gladiator. Eventhough the wave was running at a lower level it proved to be an epic surf: A big foam pile with a sweet green shoulder to surf. This year I felt strong and determined to not just catch the wave – I wanted to surf it. With that I mean that I was not just gonna get on the wave and try to get the most air on airscrews or pan-ams, but actually try my whole variety of moves: pan-am, blunt, back blunt, flash back (never worked!), air screw, clean blunt and my beloved pistol flip.

I love that move, but it takes a huge commitment to catch Gladiator, one of the biggest river waves out there right now, spin around and go for it. If you miss it you are in for the biggest faceplant of your life. Especially on Gladiator. So I was stoked when I caught the wave, got a nice surge forward and felt the moment of truth as I span into it and hucked. The pistol came around nicely, but I dissappeared in the foam and re-appeared behind the foam pile. Nevertheless, it was my favorite surf moment for sure.

My second best moment came as I walked back up to the line-up and realised it was time to go clean and knowing that I can do it. I spent Christmas on the White Nile with Nouria Newman, and we perfected the clean blunts on Nile Speical. Last year I watched her slay Gladiator and throw amazing clean blunts while I was still trying to get out to the foam pile and surf the thing. So this time I wanted it so badly. I caught Gladiator and started surfing it, got a pass but cheated on the first clean blunt. I spun back around, surfing around to get the second pass. When it came it was glorious.  (for me!) The trick is definitely to not go too big, as I then tend to lose my balance, so I got the pass, put my edge in and then stretched it out. Pheww…. such a nice feeling..

The third great moment came in a ride where I  found myself backwards, feeling the release and hucked a back stab. Even if I did not pull the boat up properly for a vertical back stab, the air was big and I was more focused on staying balanced in the air to land it, than to make sure it was vertical. On video both the clean blunt and the back stab looks smaller than they felt like, I guess that is what it normally is with kayaking and video footage! 🙂  However, if you have ever been backwards on Gladiator you know what kind of panick enters you mind: it is hectic.

That is why I chose the back stab as my best trick to be voted on for the competition, even though I think the clean blunt is waaaaay harder and the pistol flip way more committing.. In the end I think that is why I got voted first by the athletes.  We all know how terrifying it is to try anything backwards on a 3 meter high wave, and to also pull it off controlled and land it, requires that one feels the wave.

After that day on Gladiator I was insanely stoked. The voting the next day was nerve racking, and I really wanted to win, but at the same time I also felt quite happy with my approach to this stage. I did not want to just try 8 pistol flips in a row and hope to get one really good one, I wanted to surf Gladiator. To feel it, and to enjoy it. So I did. The win was the bonus that made the day even sweeter.

Thanks for an amazing day on the water, girls and guys!

Also a huge shout out to the organizers, the volunteers, Wilderness Tours, the media crew and the rest for making this amazing event. Also, thanks to you guys out there watching the event, in the end we all want the same thing: to go kayaking and have the best day ever.


Tomorrow we have the BoaterX on the Rouge river in Quebeck, the water levels is high, most athletes in bed and the stoke tomorrow will be even higher. I hope all you guys out there have an amazing day on the water, just like we will have tomorrow!





Photo: John Rathwell Photography/The Whitewater Grand Prix