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Sjoa Festival 2006, Norway. Event report.
As many as 250 kayakers showed up for this year's Sjoa Festival in Norway. Low waterlevels didn't seem to bother anyone, and the sun kept everyone smiling, happy all the way through the five days the festival was going on.
Dagger Europe and Palm Equipment showed up with demo boats and professional paddlers for four days of clinics and slideshows. Participants could choose from clinics covering rive rrunning, playboating and safety. There were beginners' clinics on the Otta river, and on the Sjoa for more advanced paddlers.
There was a tragic start with the death of one British paddler in the local Åmot gorge on thursday night. He was part of a private trip and had no connection to the festival. The festival organizers got the approval from friends and family to still run the Sweet Rumble BoaterX, which took place in the same section of river.
Friday night almost 50 padllers showed up for the prestigous time trials, where the kayakers paddle one by one down the course in order to get the fastest time. The rule is simple: the fastest and the slowest from time trial would meet in first round in the BoaterX the next day, and in addition the fastest one from the trial got to choose the starting position in every heat.
Local carpenter and Åmot hero Morten Eilertsen put up a Sweet ramp, which was quite high above the water, due to fast dropping levels… Quite a few skirts were blown off by the impact during the competition, and many people were complaining about a sore back the next day (though that could have been from the trampoline sessions in the camp as well, late Saturday night…)
A few interesting things that happened:
- Matt Tidy lost the grip of his paddle and was seen handpadling a quite interesting section of the river during the race. Tyler Curtis got landed on from both sides upon impact with the watersurface, though managed to avoid injuries. Norwegian hero Flemming Schimdt lost the grip of the victory in the last eddy, flipping over on the eddyline. (same move as I myself copied in finals…) Italian stud Ramazza broke his paddle and swam, and then had to drink a massive bootie filled with vodka to the brim. German slalompaddler Claus won time trials on his first time down the course, without having scouted the last rapid. (this is acutally a tricky class four…), and had also earlier that day run the portage on the Upper Sjoa all on his own due to catching the last eddy of no return….
- In the time trial as mentioned above, Claus showed up his slalom skills and won the top spot, closely followed by Flemming Schmidt and Matt Tidy. In the womens I managed to stay on top of things and paddled myself into top five mens position, beating the next girl Linsey Evans by 7 seconds.
- In the boaterX local Kay Arne Randen paddled himself to victory, and everybody cheered loudly as he has been close to the top for years. Well done! Mikey Abbot follwed tightly, securing the second spot.
- In the womens Linsey Evans reached the goal first, as I suddenly found myself upside down on the eddyline, just when I though I had the victory. Lesson learned, never believe you have won before you have the Sweet Rumble belt in your hand… Rosie Cripps paddled herself to third spot.
At night the party went on until the next morning, with lots of good music and various booze… The trampoline was a popular device for various exercises, and as tradition has it, many people found their way to the roof of the Riksanlegget building, enjoying the bright norwegian summer night and the sweet sound of the Sjoa river.
See you all next year!
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Photos by Graham Genge, P3 Photography.