ADIDAS SICKLINE, THE EXTREME KAYAK WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP (Austria) - Nominee for the 2017 Industry Professional of the Year Award
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the adidas Sickline Extreme Kayak World Championship is considered the most well-known wildwater race on the planet. It has been evolving over the last 10 years under inspiration of Olaf Obsommer and the guidance of Planet Talk who has lead it to develop into a very special event with paddlers from all over the globe competing. Every year over 170 male and female athletes travel to the famous Wellerbrücke rapids on the Oetztaler Ache River in Austria and go head to head searching for the fastest “sick line,” which is the perfect, smoothest and fastest line downriver.
The course is a stretch of Class 5 whitewater that runs late in the season when the levels are comparatively low to the rest of the year. It is located just upstream of Oetz and has perfect access for paddlers along with the general public who can walk to the river and watch the kayaking from the stands or fenced pathways. Although this is not the most extreme race, its nature creates extremely tight and exciting racing where narrow margins of time separate the top finishers.
Sickline is one of few extreme races to have professional media coverage and at present is one of the few to be streamed online worldwide, presenting a wonderful and exciting branch of paddlesports for all to watch. The event is live streamed online and also has a TV broadcast which is shown in numerous countries. Sickline also has fantastic social media coverage with updates being uploaded during the run-up, during and after the event, keeping the event in the public eye and prominent in the paddlesports community. With over 12,000 followers online, paddlesports publications including Kayak Session and Kanu Magazin continuously share news about the event from their own feeds and through their own social media channels.
It is the influence of Adidas as well as the dedicated organisational team that have generated this media coverage, usually observed in other more mainstream and popular sports.
The top 52 men and Top 8 women compete in a so-called 'head-to-head’ format or knockout system (i.e. the fastest of the qualification battles the 52nd, the second fastest competes against the 51st and so on). The order of the respective heats is based on a classic tournament ladder. The faster kayaker of each heat advances to the next round, together with two ‘lucky losers’ (the two fastest of the eliminated top 52 athletes). The top 28 compete once again in a knockout system. The 14 victorious athletes and two more ‘lucky losers’ then advance to the super final where they compete for world championship honours. In the women’s final, the Top 5 paddlers battle it out for the title.
Athletes at the event concur that the adidas Sickline World Championships is unique as the best athletes of many different kayaking disciplines – freestyle and slalom world champions, extreme kayakers and river expedition paddlers – come together in a race situation. The head-to-head format makes competition fair and extremely close. Any one of the finalists has the chance and the ability to earn a spot on the podium.
Managed by Mike Hamel and Sonja Güldner-Hamel from event organiser Planet Talk, athletes are put at the heart of the event. They are provided with food throughout the competition period; an athlete area consisting of seating; and a sports massage centre (that the athletes adore!) where all competitors are able to make use of the Adidas physiotherapistss and remain injury free.
In summary, the Adidas Sickline fully deserves its nomination for the 'Industry Professional Award' for their outstanding delivery of both promoting extreme kayak racing to the public but also running an event, which truly looks after its athletes, and allows gives them the best possible chance to succeed in a fair and safe manner.
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