Sjoa River Festival 2016 – Short Report

Sjoa River Festival 2016 – Short Report

(Lost in the ether of our downed served a re-post from the Sjoa River Festival 2016, so get into the spirit and pre-register.)

At the height of this long warm summer, the Sjoa River Festival now in its 20th year attracts paddlers from across Norway, and Europe beyond. With much of the winter’s snow long melted, low water conditions meant paddlers all week could enjoy runs of Finna near Vågå, in the Åseng canyon on Sjoa as well as final runs on the Lågen, currently and very regrettably being dammed at Rosten. The Sjoa River Festival is very much a gathering event, whereby the official programme limited to evening entertainment and a few key races hosted by Strie Strømmer and Gene17Kayaking, all set near or at Bjølstadmo in Heidal.

This year’s low water meant the traditional Ula Extreme race was moved to Åmot Canyon with a challenging course set by Jakub Sedivy, a perennial Sjoa summer visitor. With a hard course set out, paddlers laboured to hit all the moves without incurring penalties, with a third of the field missing the finish gate. The top girls were well within 10% of the fastest men’s finishing time, which goes to show tactics matter offer strength and power even on such pushy whitewater found on the Sjoa’s Åmot Canyon. Winner of the recent Ekstremsportveko, French man Eric Deguil stormed the field to win with an impressive time, whilst Czech girl, Pavlina Zasterova also had a clean run to lead the ladies.

On Saturday’s Sweet Rumble BoaterX event also on the Åmot Canyon, wave after wave of men’s heats and finals cut the field of competitors down to a final of 4 men, 3 were Czech and another French man. The final was a big battle, with the leader swapping out a few times, and a lot of competition for position in the first rapids, with all the paddlers taking the faster and more riskier line on the last rapid. Whilst Ondřej Tunka very kept the lead into the final eddy, the battle on his tail between the others made for fine entertainment for the watching crowds. In the ladies final, Pavlina opened up a good lead in the corridor rapid after several competitors were knocked offline in the entry rapid. All the girls went for the safer just tighter middle line on the last rapid, with Pavlina being the only competitor to make the final gate. All the other girls in amongst the fight, block each other’s lines and they were swept down river…. For our FULL results.

All in all another vintage festival, with great the parties, lots more the campfire stories and many fine lines down great rapids. As ever we’re back again in 2017, Week 28 as usual.

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