Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Voss Extreme week and beyond!

-Trying to get a boof in tired from racing - Arnstein Karlsen

Hey where have I been and where has the last few weeks gone!!!??? So since the epic mission in Italy I caught a cheap and somewhat dodgy plane from a small airport east of Milan to a small airport out of Oslo, Norway where a friend, Val and I drove a few more hours to her place in a cool little ski village called Geilo. We spent a bit of time relaxing after out Italy partying and one day trip to germany! Once we had slept and eaten enough we were hankering for a bit of solid whitewater! (solid as in difficult not frozen!)
We ran the Zambezi section of a river possibly called the Dagalli but possibly I just dont remember!

- Brandseth race - Photo Kjell HÃ¥kon Larsen

Anyway that was awesome and had some nice big holes in it with a solid flow! Just what the doctor ordered!
Then it was time to get to Voss to see Mike and Margis and pick up Will from the airport in Bregen. Back at Margis and Mikes was awesome catching up with them and also Greg and Kristy who were out here last year too! Next up was preperation for Extreme sports week! An epic week of racing, partying and long day with even longer nights! We also set out to make a film for the film cometition but once all shot and ready to edit we couldnt get the footage off for some reason!
- Josh Neilson racing on the Brandseth - Photo Marit Stensby

By the thursday we were ready for racing! The Brandseth River is home to the time trials and teams race and this year it was a good flow, the sun was pumping, there was a jazz band on the side and we were feeling good! First runs were good with Sam taking an early lead but then Mike Abbott came back with a 4 second faster run! Once they made the cut down to 15 I had made it through in 10th and knew I had to go fast to hold that position! Overall i gained 3 places and came in 7th with Michelle Ramazza from italy just beating Sam by split seconds!

- The waterfall on the Brandseth - Photo Marit Stensby

Over the day the sun was scorching and the snow was melting! all the teams for the teams race headed up to the top to run the steeper higher section and it was going off! I have to say it was the scariest race ive ever been in! I ran everything big backwards and got smashed in every hole to where i thought i was going to swim! luckily i didnt and we came in 4th with kiwi team, Sam, Brad and Dylan in 2nd and Mikey Abbott's team once again taking 1st place!
The rest of the week was partying and gearing up for the head to head! I didnt know the lines because I was late due to my kayak being left in town and didnt make it through to the next round but once again this year Kiwis dominated with Sam Sutton in 1st, Mike Abbott in 2nd and Jamie Sutton in 3rd! We done boys!

- A perspective of some of the race - Arnstein Karlsen

Once that was over we heard that one of the best creeks in Norway was running and we had to check that out! we missed it 3 times last year but not this time!
The tiegdale is epic! Driving up the river the road switch backs its way up the valley and as you look down you can see the little village well below you!

-Josh Neilson on the Upper Slide, Photo Will Clark

-Upper slide on the Tiegdalen, Sam Sutton givin'it - Photo Josh Neilson

-Sam Sutton sliding high on the Tiegdale - Photo Josh Neilson

-Dylan Thomson on 'Notter Drop', he Styled in but to most its not a drop!- Photo Josh Neilson

It starts off with some sweet manky rock gardens into the first gorge! Drop 1 is a 8 or 9m S-bend waterfall with a nasty pocket at the bottom! Jamie decided to check it out with an epic swim out but luckily he was all good! the gradient picks up as slide after slide you make it to the bottom! we havent documented the river much due to putting on round 6pm each day as this is when its at its highest from snow melt!

- The best boof in the world, land flat then get ready to fly - Josh Neilson - Photo Dan

- The second of the double - Josh Neilson Flyng - Photo Dan

- The Famous and real 'Double Drop' Sam Sutton letting go! - Photo Josh Neilson

- Ian Garcia showing kiwis how to fly! - Photo Josh Neilson

The last drop is where its at though! the famous Double Drop is a clear favourite and the pictures speak for themselves!
Over the past few days we have been sessioning this river over and over while its round and its awesome! from here we are off to Sjoa so keep an eye out cos there should be some more drops coming soon!

-Lake to lake on the Eksigndalen - Josh Neilson - Photo Dan

-Lake to Lake middle drop - Josh Neilson - Photo Dan

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Italy Mountain Games, Ivrea, Val Chiusella

-Honza Lasco on the Extreme Race Day 1 - Photo Arnd Schaeftlein

After 26hrs stranded in Milano Linate airport I had a break through and next minute I had a friend of a friend yelling out from his car getting my attention, quickly loaded the car and before I knew it I was on the motor way heading for Ivrea! Kees Van Kuipers was on his was and running a bit late so was on time to call in and save me from my spell in the airport! Within a few hours we were up in the hills but unfortuantly just missed the down river extreme race but good news was already out with Bliss-Sticks, Honza Lasco in 1st and Mike Dawson in a close second!

-The View from my tent the morning after 26hrs in the airport! Happy to be here! - Photo Josh Neilson

That night I got to catch up with the crew and hear horror stories from the race that day! The course is steep and technical and over the day there was broken ankles, ribs and other various injuries from running the Gnar at speed!

-Sam Sutton rolling off the start ramp - Photo Arnd Schaeftlein

Early the next morning was the Teams race! This was the first part of the overall World Championship title! Team Switzerland was missing a paddler due to the day before's incidents so i paddled for them which was an experience running the whole race blind without ever seeing the river before! I got in behind and kept close and rolled off every drop in the same place as who ever was in front in hope they stuck their line so i would too! At the bottom I was stoked to be down, uninjured and back on the river!

- Brad Lauder flying off the upper drops at full speed! -Photo Arnd Schaeftlein

- The Upper Gorge - Photo Arnd Schaeftlein

- Over all 2nd Mike Dawson navigating the upper race course - Photo Arnd Schaeftlein

Team kiwi (Mike Dawson, Jared Mehan and Sam Sutton) took the days top time taking them into the second round 15seconds up on the France!
The races now moved into town down the hill to a beafy slalom course where the boatercross, downriver sprint and the second round of World Champs for teams would be held!
I got a 7th place in the down river which was cool and only 2.6 second behind Italian Filippo Brunetti!

-Mike leading the pack in the boatercross - Photo Josh Neilson

-Louise Jull Coming from the back of the pack to win the Womens Boatercross - Photo Josh Neilson

-Louise Jull keeping focused and winning the womens extreme slalom - Photo Josh Neilson

To split up her slalom tour in Europe, Louise Jull who is traveling round in a truck with Mike Dawson, came to the race and dominated. Unfortunalty she didnt have a kayak to race in for the Val Chiusella race which means she couldnt be eligable for overall winner but she did cleanly win the slalom and Boatercross which was awesome to see!
Next up was the Teams Slalom which I moved down the pack to 27the out of 46 as this is definalty not my specialty but it was a fun race.
The next big event was the teams slalom. This was the second part of the World Champs for teams racing. With some very strict rules of missing a gate a 50sec penalty and also a touch of a gate 50 sec penalty it meant that if any team had even a touch they would be out for sure!

-A touch of NZ in Italy, this flag flew for the kiwi mens world champion team! -Photo Josh Neilson

Team NZ was last to run and with the French having clean and fast lines through the course! This meant that if NZ touched a gate they would loose the title right there! Mike came through the course clean followed by Jared..... Sam was the last to come into the last gate and also hit it clean! NZ took the title for World Champions for teams racing which is awesome!

- Team NZ (Jared Mehan, Sam Sutton, Mike Dawson) World Champion team racers - Photo Josh Neilson

The overall times for every race were added up to find the title for the Teva Cup and Mike Dawson took 2nd place which was another great result for NZ's Extreme racing crew!

Teva Cup Overall 2nd Place Mike Dawson - Photo Josh Neilson

Right after the event I loaded up a car with Valarie Bertrand from Norway and headed on a bit of a mission over night to Germany where she picked up some new kayaks then straight back to Italy to pcik up our kayaks we had left with Filippo.

-On our way to Germany we camped by the river to find this sign early the next morning! -Photo Josh Neilson

We went out for pizza itallian style and then a tour around Verona, Italy! A town we easily passed by on the way but stoked we got to check out! We walked around the city til 3am looking at castles, statues, arena from the Roman time and even checked out the place where Juliet lived and saw the balcony where Romeo stood below! An amazign town rich in history and very beautiful!

-Panoramic view of Verona, our last site before heading to Norway - Wikipidia

-1 of 12 bridges into Verona - Photo Wikipidia

-Verona square! beauty! - Photo Wikipidia

-One of many Castles along the way - Photo Josh Neilson

-Following Team Italy home from the race in Ivrea - Photo Josh Neilson

Straight from there we drove 1.5 hrs and caught a plane Olso Norway and then a 4hr drive to where i sit right now! Back in Norway and looking forward to the next chapter in the 09 mission! Tomorrow we will be back on the river here in Norway and getting ready for Voss Extreme Sports Veko next week! Lets go!

- Hanging with team Italy pre party on saturday! -Photo Josh Neilson

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Vail Mountain Games training

-Downtown Vail - Photo Ron Fischer

Sweet so we are up here in Vail, Colorado after a sick mission to Quebec and a 3700km drive across USA to a small but nice Ski town. We arrived and met up with Ron and went to check out the race run at Homestake Creek about 10 minutes from downtown Vail! So the deal is stay upright, stay straight and wear as much body protection as possible! The run is short and tight with about 3cubic meters of water going down it!
We have done a few practice runs so far and its hard! Also because we are at 9000 feet above sea level, breathing becomes a bit hard and by the end of the 2-3minute run you are stuffed!
So here are a few shots from the paractice and will have more of an update as the races begin!

-Josh Neilson, Homestake creek race training - Photo Anna Bruno

-Josh Neilson, Cold and tired in the mank - Photo Anna Bruno

-Sam Sutton avoiding the rock right in the middle of the drop! - Photo Anna Bruno

-Ron Fischer getting in some practice - Photo Anna Bruno

-Sam Sutton in amongst the rocks! - Photo Anna Bruno

- Relaxing at the flashest hotel ive ever been in! Cheers Ron - Photo Ron Fischer

-Lou Urwin dropping into the gnar - Photo Anna Bruno

- One of the nicer drops in the race - Photo Anna Bruno

- An old mining town below the race run on Gilmans Gorge - Photo Ron Fischer

Thanks for the photos from Anna Bruno and Ron Fischer