The Ekstemsportveko takes place annually in Voss, Norway. From humble beginnings, the festival has grown into the largest action sports event in the world and draws people from around the world and from almost every adventure sport you can imagine. The festival celebrated its 20th anniversary this year and promised to be the biggest and best Veko yet!
The event runs for a full week long but the kayaking events didn’t start until later in the week which meant that for the first few days, we were free to go off adventuring in the day and come back and hang out with some amazing people in the evenings. Palm’s Joe Rea-Dickins was in charge of editing the daily video for kayaking and my crew was tasked with helping to film. In the first few days, we managed to run and film most of the classic big waterfalls around Voss and we had some amazing joy laps out on the easier sections with a huge crew. Joe did an awesome job throughout the event with making the edits happen on time, whilst still balancing a desire to kayak hard and compete.
Due to low water levels, the race was moved from the standard Brandseth race course to the entry rapid on the Lower Myrkdal. The race course had some really technical rapids on it and a long flat water sprint in between the first waterfall and the middle of the course. I made a few small mistakes on my first run and found myself sitting in 7th place as I waited to take my second run. With both laps being combined to decide your final time and placing I knew my second lap would have to be something special to make it onto the podium. I gave it everything I had and was well on my way to having a flawless run until I cut into the final move just a little bit too early and hit a rock, costing me those precious couple of seconds I desperately needed. I was pretty disappointed with my racing that day but happy to finish in 4th place against a stacked field of international racers.
The top fifty percent of racers were invited to compete in a slalom competition on the Holy Diver rapid in memory of the late Benjamin Hjort. The slalom course was amazing and featured some really challenging gates, the hardest move on the entire course was the waterfall near the end. It was impossible to stay on top of the water down this behemoth which meant that there was a certain degree of randomness and luck as to how you resurfaced. We saw most possibilities taken throughout the day with competitors resurfacing upside down, backwards, sideways and occasionally, all of the above. There was an unfortunate timing issue with my first and fastest run and I had a bad line out of the bottom of the waterfall on my second. Regardless, it was an absolutely awesome day racing and I am really happy that the organisers decided to step up and hold a race on a rapid of this nature.
With the two main kayaking events over and the weekend’s concerts about to begin, we were let loose to enjoy some great times with awesome people and even got to see Grand Master Flash play!
Thanks to everyone that make the Ekstemsportsveko what it is. I thoroughly look forward to coming back next year and putting down some faster race times! – Bren