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Interview: Valerie Bertand

vb1A short interview with Valerie Bertand about 4 world championships in one year.

kayak surfThis interview was originally produced for the Portuguese Playak partner site  'kayaksurf.net'.

VB3 Hi Val. You participated in 4 World Championships during the past year – kayak surfing in Portugal, freestyle in Switzerland, slalom in Spain and rafting in Bosnia?!
What I will remember from the Worlds tour most is the competition side obviously! The hard training period before each comp and the very quick transfer to another discipline the day after it would be over.

How did you manage the trainings?
Physically, paddling is paddling: you more or less use the same muscle groups. But the technique and style and the whole strategy behind each competition is VERY different. It is extremely hard to set your mind so quickly off one and onto another, especially at Worlds level.

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Slalom Worlds 09, Spain / Photo by Valentin Grollemund

Are you satisfied with the results?
Most people take 2 years to get ready; I took 1 month for each! As a result, I did not manage to keep my World Champ titles in surf kayaking and freestyle-squirt that I held for a while. A lesson for me to learn I suppose.

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2009 R6 Rafting Worlds, Bosnia

OK, but you realized that your achievement was unique?
Yes, I managed to keep myself at a steady top level all season, hitting podium or at least semi-finals in all of these: extreme creek races, freestyle, squirt, surf kayak IC + HP and rafting R6 + R4. For that, I am extremely proud. In fact, I don't know anyone up to date, who has achieved the same, neither in the men.

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Freestyle Worlds 09, Switzerland

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Creeking

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Freestyle Worlds 09, Switzerland

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Squirt Worlds 09, Switzerland

Commons points in this four events…
Each event has in common a few key elements: tones of happy paddlers, good atmosphere, late nights and many memories that will last you forever. Only the place and the people change. The truth is: a World Championship is an unexplanably intense experience each time. You must live it to realize that there is a lot more to it than just being there to compete. Meeting the best paddlers in the world, paddle until you hurt, sharing a passion, the tips and the encouragements... Simply said: the best things and the best people in the world are there, in one spot, for 1-2 weeks. Anyone would be pretty dam stupid to miss out on that!

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Portugal Kayaksurf Worlds 2009

And for this year?
For next season, I plan on refocusing a little. Perhaps the combination of just surfkayaking, slalom and freestyle would be enough?

Let’s see if you will be able to limit yourself to that ;) Thanks a lot Val!

[interview by Luis Pedro Abreu]

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