New Zealand’s top extreme kayakers have dominated one of the world’s biggest extreme sports events, the Ekstremsportveko festival in Norway, over the weekend.
Olympic kayaker Mike Dawson took a break from the canoe slalom world cup series and seamlessly slotted back into whitewater racing, winning the Brandseth Downhill kayaking race on a 400m section of the Brandseth River.
It’s the second time the 28-year-old has claimed that title, following a win in 2008, as he clocked 3mins 5.8secs to head home local paddler Dag Sandvik by just 0.23secs. Rotorua brothers Jamie and Sam Sutton were third and fourth respectively, with Jamie recording 3:06.87 and Sam 3:07.01.
“I wasn’t even planning to race up there but it was good to race on a real river and get out amongst it on some white water,” Dawson, fresh from a ninth-placing in the first world cup in Prague, said. “High flows made it pretty tricky but it was definitely pretty nice to have a good break from slalom.”
Auckland padder Toni George finished third in the women’s race, behind Norway’s Mariann Saether and Dawson’s partner, Dutchwoman Martina Wegman, while Dawson and the two Sutton brothers also combined to win the teams race.
The Ekstremsportveko also features base jumping, skydiving, paragliding, rafting, climbing and mountainbiking and has been running since 1998.
Dawson built his kayaking career around extreme racing, which he uses to help fund his Olympic ambitions in the canoe slalom boat. He has now landed in Slovakia in time for the third world cup of the season, in Liptovsky Mikulas.
“It’s going to be pretty tricky going from high water in Norway to pretty low water here in Slovakia but we’ll see how it goes.”
Fellow Olympian Luuka Jones will join him in Slovakia, after dipping out of semifinal contention in the second world cup in Poland with a narrowly missed gate late in her heat.