2016 King of the Alps – Report + Photos
The fifth edition of the King of the Alps was a blast! Over 120 athletes coming from all over the globe battled it out on the Passirio River for their chance to claim the 2016 title.
Due to a shoulder injury just before the race, the local hero Daniel Klotzer was unable to start, and the three-time King of the Alps Michele Ramazza (ITA) get back the crown!
The woman’s category hotted up this year with a record turnout of fourteen ladies. Last year winner Pavlina Zasterova (CZE) came to defend her title and managed to maintain her rein. The juniors put in a strong performance earning themselves respectable times and they will definitely be talent to look out for in the future. Within the open canoe, the new-added category, 14 paddlers showed up and battle from top to bottom to show all their amazing abilities.
The event kicked off with a mass start above a class IV rapid and the colourful explosion of boats was as action packed as promised, a real favourite with the athletes and spectators, but unfortunately, for a few people their race ended there with a swim and a bootie beer. The juniors headed off to a fit and feisty start with some good boat bashing from the boys, but the fast pace couldn’t be keep by all and the leaders soon broke away from the pack. The leaders keep it tight for most of the race but as tiredness set in mistakes were made, leaving local lad Martin Unterthurner (ITA) the chance to ride on home with some super slick lines and, same as last year, the 1st place in hand. 2nd place went to Stefano Del Bel Belluz (ITA) and hot on his tail 3rd to Roman Glassmann (GER).
The women headed off to a solid start showing great confidence down the first rapid. It wasn’t long before the leader emerged, Pavlina Zasterova (CZE) powered her way to the front where she remained for the rest of the race unchallenged by the others. A mighty battle went on for second place with more overtaking than a Formula 1 grand prix it was close throughout but after an epic 6km, long battle Lowri Davies (UK) managed to stole the 2nd place in front of Vera Knook (NED).
The open canoes paddlers showed to fulfil their motto: half the paddle twice the men! In the end Bob McKee (UK) won followed by Mat Howes (UK) and Felix Hundemer (GER). At the start, showed up also two C1. The crazy Czech Jan Choutka finish first and qualify himself for the men final, while Martin Karabec (CZE) finish in 2nd position.
The men’s start was intense and, with almost 80 paddlers on one starting line, tensions were high. Finding and keeping a good place was paramount to get off to the best possible start. Knowing your line is one thing, trying to keep it among the masses was another.
A strong line out of international stars dominated the first rapid all determined to come out on top. It was Michele Ramazza (ITA) who took the lead followed the former slalomer Michal Buchtel (CZE) and the French matador Eric Deguil (FRA). The legend Sam Sutton got off to a slow start remaining blocked in the descending mass, well the other local Daniel Haller (ITA) and Devil’s race organizer Mira Kodada (CZE) held on to their strong starting positions. A constant head-to-head-to-head-to-head… went on throughout the entire course but Michele managed to really up their game, nailing every fast line available.
The top 20 men then went on to the final in Moos in the Passeier. This class V section starts with a 4m drop, 200m of continuous class IV, 90° shoot and then the “intimidator“ a meaty class V with a merging of rivers. It certainly makes an impression from the outside and the athletes literately came flying out buzzing! Racing lines were varied as each one tried to nail the perfect line but the course was not going to be tamed that easily. Nations represented in the final were Italy, Germany, New Zealand, France, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Nederland.
With the crowds in place, the finalists performed a fantastic spectacular to the highest levels, with times getting closer with each round. At the end of the semi-final it was Eric Deguil (FRA) who held the fastest time on the course. With two Italians in the final, the red, white and green flag was looking promising, but it was not to be. The almighty super talent from New Zealand Sam Sutton made a fantastic run and came 1st, split seconds behind Michele Ramazza (ITA) and Nicolas Caussanell (FRA) a solid 3rd. The King of the Alps is the person with the highest points from the combined races, so King of the Alps 2016 went to Michele Ramazza, 2nd Michal Buchtel (CZE) and 3rd Thomas Waldner (ITA).
The event went well on into the night with King Slaves, DJ Rayman and the action didn’t stop as well as a lottery for all participants with some great kit prizes the open races was all go. Anyone who was out of the final, were invited to do 10 Eskimo rolls in the fastest time in the bar side pool. Jan Havelka (CZE) went home super happy with his winning prize of a new Exo Creek boat for his fast effort.
For those who did not party all night or who were just real hard-core, trips were run the day, catering for all levels.
Stories were told, suggestions were shared, ideas were given, and King of the Alps 2017 (2-4th of June) begins……………………….
More info go to > King of the Alps
Photos © Flo Smith.