For now anyway, extreme kayaker Sam Sutton’s five-time reign as Adidas Sickline Extreme Kayak World Champion is secure. And so is that of four-time women’s champ Nouria Newman of France. In January, organizers of the prestigious kayaking event said that they’re cancelling the Class V paddling competition for 2018…
The future of the Adidas Sickline Extreme Kayak World Championships was placed in jeopardy when organizers announced to racers in an email that they were cancelling the event for 2018. The email alluded to “a current process of strategic realignment” with regard to title sponsor, adidas, and that the decision was made “in order to reflect on the even concept and its further development.”
The move sent ripples through the whitewater community about whether it will be resurrected.
"It’s really sad that Sickline has been canceled for 2018," says former winner Mike Dawson of New Zealand. "It’s definitely the biggest event in the kayak scene, and it was putting our sport out to the world stage, and onto TV screens across the world. I love Sickline because it combines athletes from all disciplines and brings the community and sport together. Fingers crossed it will be back in 2019."
Perhaps no one had the treacherous, bony, Class V course on Oetz, Austria’s Wellerbrücke rapid more dialed-in than New Zealand’s Sam Sutton, who has won the event five times: in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and again in 2016 and 2017. Nouria Newman of France is also regularly on the winner’s podium (and in the coveted winner’s hot tub at the finish line), paddling to top honors in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017. And even top paddlers from the U.S. mourn its demise.
"Sickline was one of the few races that the second the race was over, I was already excited for the next year," says Dane Jackson about the one extreme kayak race he hasn't won. "It was one of the hardest races to compete well in, every run you almost had to do perfect as there was almost no room for error. Also, the amount of talent at that competition was always next level, getting harder every year. I am super bummed it's cancelled for so many reasons, especially because I really wanted to win that one at least once. But I can be satisfied to have placed one year, and end it with the course record. Either way I'm sad to see it end, but I'm grateful I got to do it the years I did."
Held each fall on the Wellerbrücke rapid, the event has long been one of steep-creek racing’s premier kayak events, alongside such classics as the Hometake Race at the GoPro Games, Green Race in Asheville, N.C., and North Fork Race on Idaho’s North Fork of the Payette. For the past decade it has drawn the world’s best extreme kayakers, many of them Olympic slalom paddlers like Mike Dawson.
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