Both defending champions held onto their titles at this year’s Sickline extreme kayak race in Austria. Joe Morley from Leeds, Great Britain, put down the fastest line for the men and Nouria Newman of France once again dominated on the female side.
Last year, Morley exploded onto the scene when he upset three-time Sickline champion, Sam Sutton (NZL). Now, with a second winning run under his belt, and the 25-year-old slalom paddler has created a legacy of his own. "It feels pretty good to win twice in a row," Morley told race organizers. "I know it's ambitious to try to beat Sam's record of winning the adidas Sickline three times, but I would like to come back and get another title obviously and keep going for as long as I can."
Morley clocked in at 56.48 seconds for his winning run on the Ă–tztaler Ache River course, the fastest race time of the day, and almost one second faster than Mike Dawson (57:42), who came in second."On my final run everything went well, I've been going faster and faster all weekend," Morley said. "I knew exactly what I needed to do, so I just went down and did it."
Kiwis filled out the rest of the podium with Mike Dawson earning his second silver and Jamie Sutton outpacing his brother Sam to win bronze.
According to Sickline, this year's event saw its largest number of women competitors ever: 15. But slalom paddler and whitewater phenom, Nouria Newman, stole the show once again, finishing more than five seconds ahead of Toni George (NZL) and over ten seconds ahead of Martina Wegman (NED).
"I'm really happy about the race, but I wasn't quite satisfied with the way I paddled," the 23-year-old Newman said. "That's still a little bit frustrating, but it's good. I mean it forces you to get better. I'm just trying to race against myself and get in that mode where I'm in the perfect flow with the river."
Rain brought up flows on the course during training last week increasing the number of mistakes on the run, but the level dropped for race day, and many of Saturday’s head-to-head battles were decided by just a few tenths of a second. The race format rewarded consistency, and paddlers who made it to the podium all had solid back-to-back runs.
Check out the Sickline webpage to see race day video footage.