Race Preview: 2016 Sickline Extreme Kayak World Championship

Racers from 29 countries will face off in the 2016 Adidas Sickline Extreme Kayak World Championship in Austria

Photo by Jens Klatt

For the ninth year in a row, 175 of the world's best whitewater kayakers from 29 different countries, including 27 women, will meet in Austria's Ötzt Valley between the 6th and 8th of October to determine the Adidas Sickline Extreme Kayak World Champion on the legendary "Wellerbrücke" rapids.

Although other extreme races may boast of more difficult courses, Sickline draws the most competitive field of racers. Drawing from the world’s best paddlers in extreme creeking, Olympic-style slalom, and freestyle, top racers finish within just a few seconds of each other. The smallest mistake means a losing run on a course where competitive times are under 60 seconds.

Last year, 27-year old Gerd Serrasolses from Sort in Spain out paddled a field of the world's finest kayakers, claiming his first and well-deserved adidas Sickline World Champion title, ahead of David Bain from Great Britain and triple World Champion Sam Sutton from New Zealand. Serrasolses was the hot favorite throughout weekend after putting in the fastest runs in the qualification, the quarter- and semifinal, but he saved his best performance for last, clocking 55.34 seconds in his final run—the fastest race time of the day and a new course record.

Jaime Sutton (NZL) takes a training lap down the steep course. (Photo by David Spiegel)

Racers to watch for 2016:

The beauty of the Sickline format is that anyone on the start list could win. After a brutal qualifying round the tournament style format means that the tiniest of mistakes lead to elimination. To win, racers must perform perfectly in every round of the competition. Expect the unexpected. That being said, here are a few “favorites” to keep track of as the action unfolds:

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Gerd Serrasolses (ESP) has been injured this summer but his name is on the start list. After a win at the Little White Salmon race the questions remains: Will Serrasolses hit the water to defend his title?

2015’s second place finisher, David Bain (GBR), will return to the course this year. The young Brit certainly has his eyes on taking top honors this year.

Sam Sutton (NZL) will return to the course. The three-time Sickline champ took third place at last year’s event and is always a contender for the podium. The Kiwi knows the course better than anyone. Could this be the year that he comes out back on top again?

This year we’ll see a few Olympians sprinting through the Class V rapids, which are a far cry from the man-made Olympic course in Rio. Hannes Aigner (GER), Mike Dawson (NZL), and Michael Smolen (USA) are hot off of the Rio Olympics. Aigner and Dawson are both Sickline regulars who accustomed to creek boating and regularly reach the final round. Aigner placed fourth medal in Rio, missing a medal by just three hundredths of a second.

Jackson during the 2014 Sickline finals. (photo by David Spiegel)

This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Dane Jackson (USA). The 2016 C&K Paddler of the year has yet to reach the Sickline podium. The reigning freestyle world champ showcased his racing chops with a win at the North Fork Championship early this summer. Jackson is on a hot streak right now. Can he carry the momentum all the way to the podium in Austria?

Nouria Newman (FRA) and Mariann Saether (NOR). Both women have previously won Sickline but have never faced off in the same year. This showdown will definitely be one to watch.

Adriene Levknecht (USA), the Queen of the Green and 2016 C&K Paddler of the Year, will travel across the Atlantic to challenge the Europeans on their home turf.

Mariann racing for the win at the 2015 Sickline. Photo by Jens Klatt.

The entire list of 175 competitors is full of contenders for the podium in both the men’s and women’s event, so expect plenty of upsets in the elimination rounds!

Watch on live stream

The final of the adidas Sickline Extreme Kayak World Championship is broadcasted live in several countries. Kayaking fans around the globe can also watch the race live online on eversport.tv. As in previous years, kayaking legend Ben Brown (NZL) will commentate the live stream. For more information, visit www.adidas-sickline.com

More from C&K:

—Recap: North Fork Champtionship V

—Rey del Spirit: Progressive waterfall event on the Little White Salmon

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