Corona Diaries #19 Nouria Newman, (France)
Outside, rivers are starting to flow and spring is around the corner, and the sun is shining high. Yet around the world, many are grounded at home and it seems likely others soon will be. Though difficult, let’s repeat it, folks this is THE THING TO DO! It is necessary and worth it!
So, we at Kayak Session decided to take the opportunity to catch up with our friends in the whitewater community and see how they are coping across the globe.
Today we talk with whitewater superstar Nouria Newman who flew back to her home in the French mountains, and just released a fun edit on her daily routine.
How zit Nouria, where are you and what is the situation like where you are?
Things are pretty good. I feel incredibly lucky for not getting stuck in the US and to be able to spend confinement at my dad’s place. I have good company and we are surrounded by the mountains. I definitely feeling privileged to be in the country side rather than in a big city. We can still go outside, we have a balcony with a great view and a little garden (it’s actually more of a junk yard these days but I’d rather call it our little garden !)…
How was your winter?
Overall my winter was pretty slow. In November I went to Indonesia to find some waterfall first descents, do some filming, and race at the Asahan River festival. Our waterfall hunting mission required a lot of effort : long hours of driving, lot’s of scouting and sleep depravation, but it all payed off. We ended up opening two big waterfall « 30$ to freefall » which is world class, and « Pukima falls » which is definitely more committing and straight up scary. Although it would have been nice to find more runnable big drops, I had a great time travelling across West Java and Sumatra. Local paddlers Toto, Ubul were the best guides you could wish for and great friends to hang out with.
« Getting to catch up with my friends from the gorge and paddle the Little White everyday, even at medium flows, was just amazing. I love the place and after getting my US visa denied last year because I had « no proper job », « no proper incomes » and « no place of my own », I though I might never be able to go back ».
You hanged and paddle with Liam Fournier and Galen Volckhausen in Indo. How was you time with those two?
Spending time with Liam and Galen was super fun and also very inspiring. It’s quite something to see Liam growing as a film maker and going the extra mile to get the shot and tell a story. I am so glad I can be part of that somehow. And Galen is pretty much a living legend of the sport. When I first met him I thought he was a reckless kid but years have gone by and as I got to know him better, I realized that he is quite the opposite. He is one of the very best paddler I know and I love his approach, attitude and style when it comes to running hard consequential whitewater. He is true to himself, true to others, there is no room for misplaced ego, no bullshit, everything Galen says he does. In the last 5 years not many paddlers have gone as hard as he did, maybe Sven, Dane and Aniol. It was also super inspiring to both do some filming with Liam and paddle with Galen. Liam is super talented and he always goes the extra mile to get the best possible shot. And I really like Galen’s approach, attitude and style when it comes. Galen is a whitewater G and it’s always an honour to get to paddle with him.
After Indonesia I headed back to France to ski a little and get some winter time at my dad’s place. I was planning to go paddling to Ecuador and/or Colombia after Christmas but I got a nasty tendinitis and I spent most of my winter dealing with that injury : going to the phisio, skiing, and kayaking easy stuff. Turns out the tendinitis in my elbow came from a compressed discus in my wrist, so it took a little longer than expected.
Where did you travel from most recently?
Early march I headed to the gorge to paddle and do some more filming with Liam Fournier. Flows were quite low for the season and with no rain in the forecast we didn’t get to paddle any of the big waterfalls I had my eyes on. But getting to catch up with my friends from the gorge and paddle the Little White everyday, even at medium flows, was just amazing. I love the place and after getting my US visa denied last year because I had « no proper job », « no proper incomes » and « no place of my own », I though I might never be able to go back. I remember walking away from the US embassy in Paris and crying when I realized that I might never run spirit again. So regardless of the flows I was just so happy and grateful for every single stroke on one of my all time favorite river. Unfortunately covid-19 happened and we decided to head back home.
How do you spend most of your time at the moment?
I try to limit my screen time. We go on walks behind the house. We got back into running, built a pull up bar, and we do core workouts. It’s saving our sanity (or what’s left of it). We have the nicest breakfasts, drink too much coffee, ask ourselves existential questions, argue about it, tell each other stories…We joke a lot and find all sort of stupid things to do. Honestly we are pretty busy. We’ve watched less than 10 movies in 4 weeks and haven’t finished our books yet. Things might change though. I hope we can keep our sanity for the next 4 weeks but it’s gonna be long.
Wisdom is not usually my thing. All we can do really is wait and see.
How has Covid-19 impacted your plans for the season?
Well Covid-19 definitely messed up my spring plans in the states and it seems like the whole season might be compromised. It’s hard because we don’t really know what will happen. Right now kayaking is forbidden in France. We don’t know when we will be able to paddle or do anything really. We don’t know if we will be to travel again anytime soon. Probably not. I am still holding on to the projets we had and hope they can still happen, but who knows. The hard part is the unknown. Some might say it’s just kayaking, they are right, but for me it is also my job and what I usually wake up for every morning so of course I am a little worried.
Any words of wisdom for your fellow paddlers across the world?
Wisdom is not usually my thing. All we can do really is wait and see. Better days will come and until then try to hold on and stay positive as much as possible. And maybe try to avoid looking at social media, weather forecast and water levels. It’s hard to see people paddling and having fun everyday when you’re stuck at home, see that your home run is at perfect flow or that you’re about to miss the entire spring kayaking season if not the full summer.