King & Queen of the Alps 2021 Recap from Sabrina and Marlene

Text by Sabrina Barm

There are many reasons why I love King and Queen of the Alps – one of them being that they established an Open Canoe category. Few other races – such the Green Narrows race – have that.

Level Six not only supports this competition, I’m grateful they also added me to the team so I had amazing gear to train and race in while staying warm and cozy.

Racing an open boat brings its unique set of challenges. At King, when a competitive result is the objective, dumping water out of the boat is not an option – too time consuming. But even a well fitted boat gets challenging to manoeuvre when filled up with water and one should choose the line wisely - some holes can be punched through, others stop you dead in the tracks or invite you in for a little rodeo session. Also, sorry to the masters’ kayaker who nearly got run over by my little freight train this year since the OCs were put in the same start group with them. Being usually the only female in the field – being smaller and shorter than my male competitors – doesn’t bode well for the one-on-one fights in the pack of the mass start. Speed and a strong sprint to get a head start is thus my greatest friend next to well honed-in race tactics. It also pays off to know your lines in the Gramstein rapid. It’s an amazing maze and I ended up in unusual places more than once over the course of the last three years.

The greatest part of King of the Alps – is the people! South Tyrolians in general are incredibly nice! Caz and Thomas not only run this event in an extremely well organized way while keeping it fun, every year they give me the feeling of coming home to mom and dad. Needless to say, coach Gregor is a legend. I love discussing all the reasons to skip leg day with little Andi. Then you have Marlène who cheers you on while speeding by and winning her own marathon run. Rachael who has such a sweet way of helping me get my sh*% together and not forgetting it in her car…..and, Nouria, I’m sorry but the white hat that Ben made the questionable choice of gifting me is still white despite my best efforts. Guess you owe me some ice cream now….

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Text by Marlène Devillez

As Sabrina said, they are many reasons to love King AND Queen of the Alps : the perfect organization, all the goodies, the marathon, the final race on the intimidator but also the roll contest in the swimming pool and the funny skateboard/kayak contest! 

For me this KOTA 2021 was really important for two reasons:

First, it was the 1st big event in a while!! So I was so exiting to see old friends and meet some new faces to share epic moments on and out of the water! 

Second reason, I went to KOTA 3 years ago and I didn’t paddle the intimidator rapid... At the time this rapid seemed too scary for me, but I made myself a promise: To be able to run it in control. With a good technique, perfect speed and good mood during the race! 

For that, I had paddled a lot in my creek boat. From grade V to build my technique and confidence but also some class 3 and 4 to improve my skills and my power. 

So I was so exiting to come back to KOTA this year stronger than I have ever been. But when I watched the terminator rapid for the first time I was really stressed. After one day of scouting the lines, and a long time of speaking with Sabrina, Nico, Andy and Gregor I felt confident enough to run it! So first impression was : it’s look’s harder than it is! But it’s really hard to be consistent!!

During the competition I took the lead of Marathon race, so I was the first women to jump in the final section! The hardest thing during the final and especially for this final section, is to be fast on the top but also keep some energy for the biggest rapid at the bottom! That was the plan for me and I did it! I was so stoked to be fast and took really good lines who gave me the second place at King and Queen of the alps 2021! I was also pretty stoked to see how the level of the women improved! It was such a good event and a good challenge for me! Thank you so much to all the volunteers for this incredible event, thank you to all kayakers for sharing this perfect atmosphere and thank you to LEVEL Six to be an awesome partner for me and this event. I’m really proud to be an ambassador of this brand.

All shots are by KOTA and outdooranimation.be

Learn more about the King of the Alps: http://www.king-alps.com/


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