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Lyon River Festival 2006, France. Event report.
I arrived in Lyon a few days before the competition, with high expectations, of both the party and the wave…I was met at the airport by David Arnaud, mr France himself, and we drove straight to the wave, only to be met by a low water level. No worries though, the next day the dam released some liquid, and the wave was nice and fluffy with a sweet shoulder.
As the days went by, more and more people showed up, and the lines got equally longer… Hotel Ibiss made sure a lot of the kayakers got a good deal on hotel rooms, so that we for once could actually have a shower after each “training” session… Many also used the field next to the wave to camp, saving a few minutes every morning of valuable sleeping time.
As we approached the weekend, Toon was getting a more stressful face every day, and people were starting to pull of the sweet moves. Donkeyflips , KY 's, Pistolflips, the normal air blunt, an occasional helix etc… On Friday the big ramp was put up, and Dane Jackson was seen circling around it for hours, contemplating hucking himself off it. I never got around to ask him if he did, but I did see him slide down the ramp in an inflatable tube, launch huge air and then eating sh… at the bottom, still with a big grin on his face. Way to go! (I wish I was still at that age when nothing hurts..)
Finally Saturday arrived, with a scorching thirty degrees Celsius and bluebird. The wave was smaller due to low water, though steep and fast.
Highlights Day 1
- 14 year old French girl Nouria pulled off a score that would have put her in fifth place Pro Men
- Tiffany Manchester showed us all how it is done with a Pan Am score in prelims (when the rest of us were struggling to catch the wave…)
- EJ missed the wave (showing that it was a very hard feature, not just us being bad!)
- The Crazy 88 is good also on a smaller feature
- The Ramp was even higher since the water level was lower than the day before….
- The beer stand was very close to the spectator seats
- Locals showed up for a good show
- Toon started smiling again
- Where ever you went on the event area you could follow the competition on various big screens
- The French female commentator's comments as we dropped onto the wave
- The Band was surprisingly good (to be French…)
- The drummers on the other side of the river walked home
The prelims for all categories were over by 16.00 pm , which is probably a record for such a big competition. Though most competitors were not performing their best, there were a few highlights, like Nourias huge air backstab in prelims, and Ejs combo move in his first round. The ones who didn't make the cut to next round was repeatedly encouraged by Shane Benedict to join the judges for the Loosers Party the same night… And so we did, losers or not.. The Band was surprisingly good, and the fiesta continued all the way to the next day.. Good times!
The Big Air was as normal a crowd pleaser, and the most exciting moment came when three Irish lads decided to share ONE kayak in between them, and ended up breaking the ramp in the process… Go Ireland !
Sunday arrived with less water, more sun and tired losers from the Losers Party…The rest of us that made the first cut buckled up and got in the water by 10.pm performing our duties as respectable competitors…
The cut down to top ten in the Men's was a hard one, and the fact that EJ suprisinly enough ended up on 22 nd spot showed how hard the feature was, even for the best ones out there. In the end, Anthony Yapp, AUS, pulled off the best ride, and walked away with 1 st in the Mens, while in the Womens Nina Hvoslef from Slovakia ended up beating favourite girl Nouria from France . In the juniors class Dane snatched the victory in front of Nick Troutman, and in the Big Air contest fellow traveller Logan Greyling from Canmore, CAN, landed a very nice back flip to claim top spot. ( He walked away with a pair of really nice Salomon skis for the effort…)
Highlights Day 2
- You could paddle up to the wave from the bottom eddy
- Pat Camblin emptying his stomach before his ride (but finishing fifth in the Men's Pro, well done!)
- At 19.00 they emptied the beer kegs, and gave the beer away for free (only five of us were still around…)
- Catching the wave twice
- Anthony Yapp pulling off a very deserved victory
- Watching Team D member Andrew Holcombe stepping it up and finishing third in Men's Pro.
- The beer after a fourth place finish in Womens Pro
- Hanging out with my man
- Sharing memories from the Kern Extreme race with Emily on shore (where she beat me..)
- Noticing that quite a few in the Men's class also struggled to catch the wave
- Toon smiling even more
All in all, the Lyon River Festival came across as a top notch event, with great organization and good people all around. Toon once again pulled it off, and a huge thanks goes to him and Kayaksession, to all his helpers and to all the sponsors who made this a very memorable weekend for all involved.
See you next year!
Daily video updates from the festival are available on Playak Videos