When your (almost) best is not enough

Today is a new day – and I should be focusing on my new goals, as yesterday concluded my biggest goal of this year – the World Championships in London. But I am feeling a little bit confused.

Finishing 52nd was a huge dissapointment. Looking up at the scoring board after my second run, and seeing my time, I wasn´t really sure what to think except from “I really was that slow?” Almost kind of funny.

Looking at the video I see clearly that many small misstakes were adding up, and that the gates 6-7 and 16-17-18 were really slow. I must have been so focused that I did not realise that I was taking all the time in the world to get out of that upstream. In the last upstream I also do not have power to get out of it well – I pull on my paddle but my boat doesn´t really move. Sigh… . More training!



I can only control my own performance, and I can not control anything else. In Pau I was included in the semis with being  9.1 seconds behind the leader in round two. Yesterday I was 14 seconds behind the leader in the second run, and you had to be within five seconds to make the cut. So… Way out of league! I am not entirely sure what went wrong except that perhaps I focused to much on a clean run instead of getting closer to the upstreams and pushing out quicker.

However, a certain sense of confusion comes from the fact that I also feel content. I am not good enough technically to pull off good runs all the time, but I am mentally a lot stronger in the slalom game than 5 months ago. My first run yesterday included two touches and a roll. In the break in between the runs I focused on all the good things I did in the run – and visualised what to do differntly. I decided that my misstakes were just misstakes – and there was no reason for me to repeat them. I felt strong in my boat, confident at the start line. I improved more than seven seconds from run 1 till 2.



And when I watch the video of my runs yesterday I realise another important thing: overall improvement. Even if I am a bit down, it is sobering to realise that all that hard work was not for notthing, even if it did not show on yesterday´s result.

The hardest thing to swallow in slalom is that my (almost) best performances are by far not good enough. It is a reality that stings a bit. From the whitewater world I am quite used to the fact that when I am at my best, physically and mentally, I also run the cleanest lines, the biggest waterfalls and win competitions. In the slalom world, my best is still far away from good. It is interesting why I still find this discipline fun..

As it is – heck yeah it is fun to paddle slalom! But also, it is time to set some new short-term goals and for the first time EVER I get to go and race Sickline in Austria. Can not wait!


See you all there!








My first…

… semi-final in canoe slalom just happened three weeks ago. It might seem like a small accomplishment, but to tell you the truth – I was (almost) crying on the conveyor belt back up to the top of the course after the run that got me through. Let me take you on a little journey.

I was 15, or maybe 16, but it doesnt matter. What mattered was this guy, Petter, who was doing his best to teach me how to do an eskimo roll. I didn´t get it. Not then, and not in the next three months. We did however start dating, and I kept trying to get the roll. I was bad at it. I was not a born kayaker. But I was stubborn.

In 2007 I was on the White Nile in Uganda, surfing one of the best waves there is. The boys were doing this move they called the helix. It really hurt when you got it wrong, and I got it wrong a lot. I also heard about the Pistol Flip. It looked awesome. It also hurt when you got it wrong. But guess what? After an insane amount of crashes, snot and a very congested head I started nailing them. Today I am happy to say that I can throw them pretty consistantly even with very little time spent in a freestyle boat.


Pistol-flipping back in 2007


In 2009 I narrowingly missed the podium at the World Championships in freestyle, after I had been top three in every single round. Placing fourth in finals was one of my biggest dissapointments in kayaking yet. When it gets to me (yes, it still does at times) I turn it around and tell myself that at least I was the nr 1 woman in freestyle one day, as I won the semi-finals.

The day after I drove with my friend Valerie to another World Championships. This time the discipline was canoe slalom. We were pretty much beginners in the discipline, but when we got the request from the Norwegian federation if we would like to give it a go we thought why not? We made it into a challenge to not get last!  We got one hour of practise before the race…but guess what? We did not place last. But most importantly – I almost found it more fun than freestyle and creeking. That is an outragous thing to say in the whitewater world.. but I was ready, or almost ready, for a new challenge.

It still took me 6 years to finally take slalom somewhat seriously. What to say – life got in the way. So did waterfalls, first descents, expeditions, injuries, extreme competitions, education and travels. The normal stuff. But. The past five months I have spent about 90 percent of my time in the slalom boat and 10 percent in my creekboat. It has not been easy.

I decided to not go to the Worlds in freestyle that is currently ongoing on one of my favorite waves in the world – Garberator in Canada. I almost jumped on the plane – but reality hit and I realised that I simply was not willing to put in what it takes to do my best at freestyle this season. The realisation came when I surfed one of the best waves in the world, Milky Wave in Voss, this summer. It only comes in when the water is really high – and even if I was throwing my clean blunts, flash backs, back stabs, pistol flips and pan-ams like it was yesterday and not a year ago since I had been on a decent wave, (WWGP 2014)  it just wasn´t as much fun as I imagined it would be. In fact, I found myself thinking I should go and have a slalom session instead or head up to do a high-water run on the river. And do you know why? I have done freestyle so much that felt a bit like routine.. And I secretly felt a bit bored on the wave.

I believe I will be back in freestyle soon enough though, but for now my mind is set on poles. But pretty please, let us have  more World Championships on good waves….  It is so much more appealing to watch and so much more fun!


Being focused in Pau, France.


However, what connects all those little stories above is an ultimate drive to be challenged. In earlier years I went between creeking and freestyle, and of course heard many times that I will never become the best at neither unless I stop doing both. Well, I am simply not put together that way. It is something I can not accept. But the most important thing is this: As I got older I have realised that it is not about becoming nr 1 in a World Championships. That is still only being nr 1 on a given day. What about the other 364 days? My focus have drastically shifted into becoming my best – every day.

Pluss I get bored very easily so I really enjoy switching between the disciplines. 🙂  So, this is maybe the most I have focused on one discipline since 2009 when I got my dissapointing 4th place at the Worlds, and it is exciting. And frustrating. And very inspiring.



My coach Peri makes it seem so easy from shore…


So here it is – my run that put me in semi-final (30 out of 70 competitors) at the World Cup Final in Pacu, France.  Afterwards my relief  was huge, and all those double sessions I have done in my slalom boat became worth it. Since April I have knocked out about 250 hours in my slalom boat… That is a lot when you pull on every stroke during sessions.



At last I ended up 24th after a not so good semi-final run, but it still felt like a victory with the course being very tricky. My story is far from ended, and after I have paddled my two runs at the World Championships in Lee Valley, London in two weeks my focus might shift again. And that is what I love with kayaking – there is never a reason to not challenge yourself to become better.


I am not a natural born canoe slalom athlete – I am not really talented in the discipline – but you know what? I am stubborn. I am a hard worker. And I believe in putting bricks on top of bricks. So who knows the future? Not me.




PS:In the next column for Kayaksession I am sharing some insight from little Mexican ripper Sofi Reinoso who is also a whitewater kayaker on a slalom quest. Make sure to check it out!



Working for it






From gates to waterfalls and back

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.


Martina rocked the World Cup in Prague!
Focused in Lee Valley! Photo: Martina Wegman



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.


Changing the perspective with a bit of paragliding in Voss..


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.



Best ride ever!


Dag has been my partner in crime in slalom – but he is also a kick ass skier!


Starting on skis from the top of Lønahorgi on the left – down to where the forest starts where we switch to DH bikes – and finally ending up in the river paddling across the finish line… yeah!



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.

Going for the win in the Branset Downhill during Extremsportweek



Champion´s belt! Sweet Rumble 2015.



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.


Remembering our friends – missing you Juanito lindo and sparkly Lulu..
Amazing memorial paddle to celebrate the lives of our friends… thank you all for coming out!

A different spring

I made it back to Norway some three weeks ago, and arrived in Bergen buzzing on a five week high from a beautiful Spanish spring with a lot of improvement in my slalom boat and a nice farmer-tan from the sunny catalon spring days. I landed in Bergen to the coldest spring seen in more than 30 years. It really hasn´t stopped raining since, and it has been bitter cold – keeping the levels down. As a matter of fact, they are just rising last night/morning, in due time for when I am flying to London for a week of training in the olympic course of Lee Valley. Phew… chasing water is testing at times..

However, I have trained every day while I have been at home – one session slalom and then another one on whitewater – a pretty sweet combo! It is hard to keep up the training though when I am at home and not surrounded by slalom heads – I dropped from 20 + hours in my slalom boat to about 10 -12 pr. week… Not happy about that, and somehow I gotta figure out how to stay motivated at home as well. If we manage to string a new course, in some more exciting whitewater, I think I will be much better off. Hopefully we can get on this in a week´s time when I am back home.

Shortly after arriving in Voss I caught Money Drop with some juice – I gotta say I still do not like to look down into its throat – it looks ugly but always seems to work out!


Ten days ago I insisted on running Myrkdalen at low flows – it wasn´t coming up anytime soon it seemed like, and I just really wanted to get on one of my favorite rivers in the area. However, I did not remember it being that bony at 14 cumecs – I felt a bit off and got bounced around a lot, having couple of bad rolls that made me overstretch my weak shoulder. In the end, even if that flow permits you to run everything and it is fairly chilled I rather add 10 – 15 cumecs and walk a couple of things. Lesson learned!


Holy Diver on the Myrkdalen – Soon I flip over, overstretch my shoulder on a backdeck roll and roll up to shoulder problems. Again.


After a few days of paddling with pain I went and saw Voss Kiropraktorkontor – my long time friend Pål Lindseth took time for me and my shoulder, and soon enough handed me a sponsor contract! I am not sure if that is a good or a bad thing.. Actually, it is really cool, and with his help I am gonna get this one sorted out, and all the other stuff that probably is wrong with my neck and back after 15 years of running waterfalls.. Stoked!

I had to cancel the competition in Merano, Italy this weekend though – to try and get  as well as possible for this upcoming training week in London. I guess I am getting better at what might be my biggest weakness: To slow down. A small goal I have is to live a bit more after the “less is more”, and not take on everything all the time. That meant meaking a choice for not aggrevating the shoulder with gates and competitions, but rather focus on letting it heal. (I did go and scout Teigdalen yesterday though – with Ibuprofen in my pocket… ) My big goal for the season is the Worlds in London in September – I just simply want to do my best and then I will see where that takes me.


Had to cancel the ICF race in Merano


On that note, it is a real bummer that the Worlds in freestyle is  held just before the slalom worlds – it makes it very hard to try and do a cross-over this time. The Worlds in freestyle will be on Garb – one of my favorite waves in the world and one that I feel very familiar with. We will see – if my training goes well in slalom I might try to pop in to compete, just to get my head away from smashing gates.

I have had some time to ponder this spring, and it has been a tough one. The past 9 months saw four of my friends pass away – all of them amazing spirits that put color and life in the world.

When Juanito passed in November it was a hard slap in the face – he was one of my best friends for years – one of those that you don´t have to stay in touch with every day because when you met again it is as if notthing has changed. His passing left me bewildered – there were/are so many thoughts and emotions to deal with that I really just put them in a closet and walked away. Poco a poco. Little by little.


On the 26th of June we do a celebration float on the Raundalselva – celebrating life and friendship forged by the river.


Then LuLu died on the Kaituna in New Zealand – and I felt my world fall down all around. I am so grateful she came along on our northern Norway trip last year – I got to know her better and the memories we shared make it a little easier to bear. I did 15 years of kayaking without losing any friends to the river – and suddenly it seemed like a craziness hit all around – as if time was running out for so many.


It has left me wondering a lot about my own lucky lines, my own close-calls, what ifs and a lot of why. I know there are no proper answers to any of my questions, and that they are a natural part of being alive and dealing with loss – but that realisation does not make it easier. I wonder about this selfish life I have chosen – that we as kayakers chose all the time.  At times I feel the most at peace on the river doing exactly what my friends loved doing – sometimes I am the most at peace while just sitting outside, in the forest, overlooking the river from under the Lulu-tree or watching the clouds go by thinking about Juanito.


Lulu told me to take care of her kayak and so I will. It might be silly to have it here – under a tree – but it feels comforting when sadness hits.


However, it has never, not once, crossed my mind to stop kayaking whitewater, or even to step back from lines I feel confident with. The river is such a strong calling, it is where I am the most happy and at peace with myself and the world around. What has changed though is that I am realising that I probably will not run class five for ever – so then what else is there? What is the next step?



Feeling at peace on the edge in Iceland


The Norwegian poem Hans Børli is one of my favorite writers. He was a logger all his life and spent his life in the outdoors – and writing about it. I find his words to be clear and honest – he describes what he feels and sees. I think I will end this little blog with his words, which I have freely translated from Norwegian. They seem to stick with me at the moment.


There are moments

when all words are grey

when the sorrow is like a glimpse of fall

a whithering leaf frozen stuck

in the icy creek



Video of Lulu being amazingly great..




The chicas – Lulu, Katrina, myself and Nicole.