In 2019 what’s new is that I really took rest in the equation. As time goes I know what I want and what I need better.
I made a plan together with few good friends how I wanted to train and evolve this year.
The first half of the year, from January to June I have been kayaking a lot, more than 100 days or almost as much as I normally do in one year,
and my non kayaking time was fully committed to rest and appreciate time alone or with people I love.
This was made possible because I took the decision to take one year off from work, and the positive support from my family and employer to let me go was very important too.
To be supported by people that respect you, also when you make the choice that are necessary for you and not what may please them most is something I am really greatful for because I need both liberty and love in my life !
In the second half of the year I would have one cool trip a month, and kayak just once a week.
In january, after 2 weeks at home in Norway with a bed and a kitchen, I aimed for Chile, Futaleufu where I lived 1 and a half month in the beautiful place of Mariann Saether in a little tent by the cristal blue river.
Everyday would start with a little yoga before kayaking the huge blue water of the Futa. We were 3 friends living Nicolas, Marlene and I – not every friends can live 24/7 together for a month but we are a good match, it was amazing ! We also took time to talk to the locals around, and do some more running and strength training. Once a week we would make the trip downtown to get food and internet. We would also have some days of break, eat crepes (pancakes) and play tarot card games or walk to secret waterfalls, in the shadows as sun was burning.
On the last week was the Futaleufu XL race, wich was a lot of fun with 4 races : sprint, boatercross, slalom and longrace. I made it to the 3rd place behind Marlene and Francesca. I really liked this way of living as a little team where we organise yourself together, do what we need and want and have time to rest too, not being constantly jumping from one activity to the next and from one group to the other as can easily happen in modern exciting but stressed life!
I came back to Norway in March when lights is back strong after the darker winter time. Blue sky and singing birds make you forget it is still cold, it is hard to perceive what shines most from ice or sun. I trained every second day on the local class 3+ rapids, a peaceful and beautiful place.
I also started singing class, as I always secretely wanted to, especially after living with another kayaker friend Lea, as she said voice is simply another muscle to train, and good breathing pattern and relaxation of face muscles that goes with it are only positive too. Last weekend in Norway was the X2 festival in Volda under historical flood levels and very fast flow, always an exciting trip to make to open the season.
In April I was quite strong after all those days on the water, and had a mini holiday on a warmer sea of Turkey to start the freediving season and discover Turkey before the touristic season starts. I also started knitting, it is so inspiring when you live in Norway “the land of fjords and woolen sweaters”.
After doing some bigwater home during the springfloods on the local rivers in May, it was time embarked to the USA for a new trip with Nicolas and Marlene and more great Frenches as PikPik, Lullu, Marie Helye, Tom, Seb and Nana. We landed in Portland and were warmly welcomed in White Salmon at the place
of Matt Swansen and Marya who we met at Mariann’s in Chile. They were travelling though, so we met more of the local warm community of kayakers. The little white salmon was low, we did the classic runs of Truss and Farmlands on the white salmon, quality river. Then we started the drive to the North Fork.
It rained a lot, apparently it is very unusual, the forest liked it a lot and was shining, green and smelly in all those raindrops, it was beautiful. The air was humide, the gears never dried. No bears broke in our tents, we did millions of laps on the S turn, we learned every waves and currents in the rapids, not a square cm was left unchecked, we had to find the fastest line! Then went to the notorious big rapid, Jakobs ladder. This was sadly too much for me, I really wish I could do it but I was just not ready for the top, wich also had a lot of water, and I stayed on the lowest part of the rapid.
What was good at the North Fork besides the river is the natural hot springs around, the Dirty Shame saloon, the drinking water from the rafting company, and our gigantic waterproof tent. We had a break with a road trip to Colorado and my first freestyle competition in the Steamboat festival, the hole was massive but I felt excited surrounded by the French team, and joined the competition were i reached the podium behind Marlene and Marie. We then came back for the North Fork Championship race, who was world championship this year. It was hard to recognise the place, because it was so sunny. Raceday came, I qualified the 1st round on the top 10. But I did not pass the head to head against Adriene to the finale,
the upper part of the race I made some line mistakes, that were not saved by a solid second part and I finished in 1min59, 4 sec behind. It is very simple : to win, you need to be clean, fast and smooth all the way down ! Just after the race I followed a gang of locals all the way down through massively ginormous waters, my arms were rarely so tired from kayaking though I was making no lines mistakes, I didn’t want to imagine what a fight it would have been if I had ended up in a wrong place on such powerful water.
Rapids were beautiful and it was a privilege to follow locals who knew the lines down there, maybe I was also tired as we went right after the finish of the race.
I watched the final next day, first year with ladies racing on Jakobs ladder. Mariann Saether arrived in the USA just couples of days before the race. She is such an accomplished kayaker and also has the mindset of a winner, and she won the race with honor. The other ladies finalists were Natalie, Pavlina and Jen, 3 of the 4 finalists are mothers of small children, wich I think give inspiration and perspectives. Adriene was qualified, but choosed not to run. The water level was high and the rapid was extremely committing, some men had very terrifying lines that luckily ended without any bad, you don’t need a rich imagination to visualise death if you make a mistake in such a rapid.
Back in Norway in june, I joined the race in Ekstremsportsveko in Voss tha was the European Championship and did well, a tight 4th place behind Beth, Nouria and Lucie.
What was great in the week was to meet up old friends and run for the first time marine canyon of the Raundalselvi, such a magnificent place that I, like anyone, have been dreaming about since I came to Norway.
Another big thing was to kayak with my boyfriend in Voss who started riverkayaking not long ago, it was rewarding to be out on the water together and we both learned, but it was also objectively tiring with a double schedule of committing and easier runs, combining many good things is a challenge in itself!
In july I started to be more chilled with kayaking and get more serious with freediving, it was historical hot summer and the sea was really inviting in Trondheim, wich is 18 degrees but it did feel warm!
In the wave of this summer spirit, I made the trip to the Sjoa River Festival, and won the Amot sweet rumble ahead of strong kayakers. Participating is a lot of fun in itself, and having the level to actually compete is real exciting, but to actually win is magic
, when you give it all and it goes right and feel easy. It is the result of a fantastic year, and I am very happy, especially to have friends to celebrate with.
In august I started to work again and went on ritual runs on our isolate beautiful canyons of Driva with blue technical water and Forra with steep waterfall on drop-drop style, pool at take out.
In september I kayaked for work to profile a river in Mo i Rana to understand better the salmon habitat. In october I made a road trip to Sweden to visit Falun vilvattenpark, first artificial rivercourse in Scandinavia from crowfunding, I participated in a race in both K1 and C1, it was very exciting though I had to realise my level in slalom is quite hilarious, the course doesn’t look terrifying but it goes fast and you better go on 200% precision level if you want to make the gate, go out fast and stay ahead on the entire course.
In november I made the trip to France for the girl weekend organised by Marlene Devillez, world silver medalist, a great gathering of girls from all ages and levels who just love kayaking, and the opportunity to learn some freestyle technics. I didn’t nail much but as Marlene says “there are things happening in your head!”.
From november I started some winter acticities as climbing and skiing, and participated to help on the junior trainings, kids energy is real moving! And to avoid getting rusted and learn something new and cool, I work out cartwheel and loops on flat water in the pool once a week.
Practice and time you commit is everything, there is no secret!
Thanks for reading and all good for 2020 !
Photos credits : X2 festival (Norway), NFC : Andi Brunner (Idaho), Ekstremsportsveko (Norway), Sjoa River Festival : Balazs Fekete (Norway), Patrick Camblin (Norway, Graura). Thanks !