Our journey to Lienz in Austria had quite an urgent start. We’d been training in Plattling, Germany. There is free camping all along the riverbank in the nature reserve there, the water level was high but not too bad but in the night whilst we’d been sleeping the level had risen dramatically as storms across Germany had thrown down heavy rain.
We awoke to find the bridge off the big island where we were parked completely covered with water, at this point it was only slightly too high to drive the van through. Normally police & officials come when a flood is coming to warn all campers to leave before they open the dam upstream. This time however even they got caught unawares as the whole construction site for building a new bridge, cranes, containers, sand, wood, and portable toilets were all flooded and being washed away.
We were fine and since we had our kayaks we could get most of our stuff to the side but the van looked a bit doomed if the levels rose. Anyway it took a few hours for rescuers to arrive and with the level now nearly a meter deep over the bridge two huge trucks came to lift us out and rescue our little van. We made it (obviously) after a very exciting morning and thought that now would be a good time to head to the mountains of Lienz. As the news showed the week after, it was a good move as Germany had the biggest floods of this century!
Lienz is a beautiful mountain town in the Dolomites popular for cyclists, hikers, climbers & kayakers. It’s also been the site of numerous European competitions, this year they were holding a smaller event but it would still attract quite a few international paddlers coming to compete.
The hole used to be quite sticky but over the winter it looks as if the rocks have shifted creating a challenging flushy wavey hole. It’s difficult to do full rides here but moves go very big. It’s also very good training for Worlds here I think.
The competition started on the river Drau amidst glorious sunshine, with a jam session format for prelims and normal rides for finals.
In the womens final girls did better than I expected given the challenging nature of the hole and all got big loops and some other moves too, Nina Csonkova was 1st, Katya was 2nd and Lucie Horka was 3rd.
In the mens I was really fired up and have been treating all comps as warm ups for worlds so I was really wanting to give my best. So I did 😉 I won with 300 or 400 points difference, the first win for my new Carbon Dagger Jitsu! 2nd was Martin Koll from Germany who’d had very sick moves in prelims and 3rd was GBR’s Matt Cooke a very good friend who came out of retirement for the competition! It was great to paddle with Matt again in competition, as he was one of the paddlers I really looked up to when I was younger and who helped me loads in my progression as a freestyler.
Video from the event: http://youtu.be/uDO6JEzn_Wg
Thomas Zimmerman the organiser & owner of the La Ola shop here really knows how to put on a good event. Even though it was a small rodeo, we had everything you could wish for. Sun, good friends, big moves, good prize money, free camping, free dinner & drinks all evening, it really made it one of the most fun events to be at. Organisers of World’s should copy this 😉
The locals also showed us one other spectacle as many of them had climbed up all the nearby mountains to light fire beacons of crosses and Christian symbols in memory of the Austrian war with France from years ago which coincided with the prizegiving party so it all added to the great experience!
My new Carbon Jitsu is really flying, now I’ve got it all outfitted and am getting used to it, it’s just getting better and better, I couldn’t be happier with how it’s turned out, we’ll be finishing off the promo video for it in the next few weeks so keep a look out!
Photos by Katya, Pringle & Martin Koll