#2 – A look into the New Year

The month of January is named after the roman god Janus – the god with two faces that can see to either side at the same time. This god represented new beginnings, and in 154. BC the Roman senate decided that this would be the first month of the year. At the same time in the north, we had our own traditions.

We counted the months after the moon. Following the lunar cycle the month of January, which was called Glugmåned lasted from 14th of December to 12th of January. Glug is a small window to look through, usually without glass, and this month was seen as a peek into the new year.

I have to say that appeals to me, since it means I have still two more weeks of peeking into 2015!

Happy Gluggmåned!



#1 – Trace of religion

New Years. Christmas. When I take a second and think about it, I do not like any of these celebrations… The reason is somewhat simple: I am not a fan of religion, and these traditions are linked to christianity. I teach spanish, and going through the country´s history with my students I am always dumbfounded when I realize how much wrong has happened in the name of christianity. A couple of key-words would be the Inquisition and the colonization of the New World.

I find it very hard to remember that celebrating Christmas is a religious act, and since I am not religious I should not celebrate it. But society leads us to think in certain ways, and much like the San Fermín festival in Pamplona every year, we are a bunch of bulls that run in the direction society wants us to…

I am all for celebrating the winter solistice, which in 2014 fell on the 21st of december. The problem is that in the noise from all the Christmas propaganda screaming at me from society I always seem forget it. This might be one of my New Years resolutions for next year: Celebrate what truly feels right to celebrate.


The fight for The White Nile in Uganda

As the years pass by I find myself constantly fighting for rivers. It seems at times like an endless battle – trying to protect the rivers of Patagonia, my home river Otta, and lately what is left of the White Nile in Uganda.


Of course you think it is because I want to save my playgrounds. There is no denial in the obvious benefits for kayakers in free-flowing rivers. However, I do not see this as my main reason. Instead I believe there are other methods  to gain electricity that impart less impact on nature. The ones that claim hydro power being “green” energy clearly have not seen the effect on communites along the Bio-Bio river (or what is left of it) in Chile, the dry ditches of Switzerland that used to be rivers, or the drowned sacred lands along Bujagali falls in Uganda.


Do not get me wrong. I understand very well that countries need electricity, (except from Norway). Chile is in dire need of power for its mining industry and Uganda also needs electricity to feed development. But at what cost? In Chile the Bachelet government recently decided against one of the world´s largest hydro plans, stating that it rather want to focus on other, less impacting re-usable energy sources. In Uganda the government is in the midst of violating a contract with the World bank which states that after the conclusion of the 2011 Bujigali dam on the White Nile, a big area downstream would be a nature reserve. It comes however as no surprise that today the govnerment is trying to create the Isimba Dam.


If it goes through in the largest scale proposed it will not only destroy the whitewater, but also create a vast still-water reservoir which forces locals to move from their homes, and also take away many jobs held by those who work with tourism. If the smallest plan goes through, the tourism industry will continue and the locals will keep homes and jobs.


Last weekend I aired on National Geographic radio talking about all this. If you want to listen go here:http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2014/10/20/october-19-2014-chasing-the-worlds-largest-predator-ever-arresting-poachers-and-more/


What concerns me now is a recent article I read from the Guardian. More than 400 dams are planned in the headwaters of the Amazon! Really?



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