03 April 2007

Nevermind, better luck next time

I return from the weekend still unranked in the world of indoor snowkayaking but victorious in my quest of having fun trying to be ranked. The whole event was comedy and I think the picture above sums up the weirdness nicely - can you spot the odd one out?! Or have you ever seen a kayak on a chair lift before like below?!

My failure to become world indoor snowkayaking began the night before in the bar as all kayaking weekends seem to here in the Netherlands:

A night in chez mathiewagon below also didn't help but by the time I had made it to getting my sleeping bag, there was no chance I was going to be able to find the room inside where everyone was sleeping.

So off I stumbled to register at 7am the next day and get some practice in beforehand. The building in the background housed the track and is the largest indoor ski centre in Europe - or was - I can't remember now? The morning was a little blurry but I do remember the 2 thoughts I had when I saw the end of the track was actually the freezing cold pool below. "Bugger, I didn't bring a spraydeck!" and "Well at least that'll sort out my hangover!"

So the track looked a little bit like a bobsleigh run as you can see from the following pictures. Below is looking up from the bottom:

Then hiking a little way up the slope you get a better view down into the finish line pool:

Then at halfway there is the DJ hut with what must've been the Dutch equivalent of Dave Pearce rolling plenty of phat ones and "Loving Detroit city" a little too much:

The view up from halfway still looked a long way to go like this:

So what was it like to ride? Well I'm going to be a bit of a bad workman here and blame my tools. A freestyle kayak, like mine, was slow. All the creeking style kayaks were faster and even if someone wiped out in a creeker, they were soon on your tail again:

The course was basically a zig zag path down the indoor piste. All the corners were banked to aid the kayaks in the right direction as expertly demonstrated below:

However, it was not always easy to point the kayak in the one direction. There was plenty of people (no doubt unintentionally!) preferring to take a more backward facing stance:

Then there were the jumps, nothing too big to induce spinal compression but certainly enough to jar you upon landing:

Again there were a few indiviauals opting to become airborn without looking at the jumps:

My favourite part the water jump finish line which did a good job of slowing you down. Without the pool, I'm sure there would've been a few through the windows and into the bar moments. Even with no spraydeck I manged to nail some decent boofs (spoofs?!) and stay relatively dry under my snowboard pants:

Not everyone went fast enough to reach the pool though, but there were plenty of volunteers more than happy to assist with an extra push!:

Most of the carnage happened at the first corner at the top. Surprisingly, only one guy was injured - it looked like a busted collarbone.

They did try to slow down the corner by putting rubber matts around and above as shown below:

But as you can see that didn't help at all!!!

So back to my ability - well I'd rather not but if you must know I didn't even make it through my heat :-( Races were in sets of 4 people and the two fastest went through to the next stage. I was third in my first heat - doh! I'll be getting my hands on a Rotobat for next time. But for proof there is a photo of me below from the website:

The Dutch guy won below and the TV was there to interview him in all his glory whilst his buddies pelted him with snowballs! All the results can now be seen on the website and I'll definitely be back next time to seek revenge.

So taking pictures of brightly coloured moving objects in bad indoor light, with a white foreground and a spotlit background definitely posed a few challenges! As you can see from my full Flickr slideshow below it took me a while to get the right settings including flash to get it kinda OK. But here's my full set:

I also took some very very short video footage which is not that good as I was holding my SLR camera in the other hand. The TV crew did a much better job and I grabbed their content online as well so here is footage of the previous days practice:

And here is the actual event itself:

There's also going to be a bunch of other photos and videos on the official website here

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