Modi Khola Express 2023 – Report & Photo Gallery
Words: Mingmar Tamang Photography: Kristof Stursa
The Thrilling Fifth Edition of the Modi Khola Express White Water Kayaking Championship
The Modi Khola Express V International White Water Kayaking Championship recently roared to life in the Annapurna sanctuary, North of Pokhara, Nepal. Nestled amidst the mighty peaks of the Annapurna Himal, the Modi Khola provided the perfect stage for this exhilarating event. Organised by Himalayan Outdoor Project and Nepal Kayak Club, this championship is part of the Express Series, a travelling kayak festival dedicated to preserving Nepal’s endangered rivers from large-scale hydropower projects.
From November 1st to November 4th, 2023, the championship witnessed the skilled athletes from around the globe, including a notable surge in female competitors. The event’s motto, « Paddle before the river runs dry, » echoed the urgent need to address the impact of dam constructions on Nepal’s rivers. The extreme white water Kayak championship is held on the river endangered by large power plants.
The competition was a testament to the athletes’ exceptional abilities and unwavering determination. The rapid tide of the Modi Khola provided a dynamic backdrop, with participants displaying a visible sense of excitement, and energy, and exact and accurate in every movement.
The championship featured two intense stages of competition. The first stage included a series of competitive trials, such as sprints, border cross, and head-to-head races, pushing athletes to their limits. So did the final stage with top national and international kayakers battling it on the continues rapids of Modi Khola. As the competition began, the air broke with intense excitement. Spectators lined the riverbanks, eager to witness the performance unfold. The kayakers showed a remarkable combination of skill, strategy, and split-second decision-making, navigating the fast-flowing tide with effortlessness and precision. Each stroke of the paddle was a calculated move, pushing them forward through the rapid waters—a breathtaking display of human willpower against nature’s formidable force.
The championship closed down with the final round of the roll paddle. Our national slalom athlete Ganesh shattered the previous record with an astonishing 30 rolls in just 60 seconds. The Last night at Modi Khola Express was an absolute blast! DJ Jelly had the crowd grooving all night with killer beats. Anup Gurung and Rajip Tripathi’s mesmerising live performance was the perfect finale. The sounds of West Ragg Blues still echo in most of our hearts.
The closing ceremony at Zostel-Pokhara was truly spectacular, marking the perfect conclusion to an exceptional event. The champions of the Express were not only celebrated but also rewarded for their outstanding achievements. They were honoured with cash prizes and a brand-new Kayak for the top asian athlete, generously sponsored by Spade Kayak. In the Male Category Caton Thompson Langson from the US emerged victorious, claiming the championship prize. The intense competition saw Ganesh Gurung (aka Hunter) from Nepal securing the runner up position and also won a brand new Kayak meant for the top Southeast Asian player, closely followed by Sergey Lin from Russia as a second runner up.
The female category witnessed equally fierce competition, with Natalie Timm from the US as the undisputed champion. Jana Maria Joressen from Germany secured the runner up position and Amy Rella from Australia secured the second runner up spot. The competition was fierce, with athletes delivering record-breaking performances that left spectators in awe. For detailed results and highlights, head over to our social media page @nepalkayakclub.
The Athletes, participants, sponsors, and community members gathered in unity to commemorate their shared achievements. The highlight of the evening was a mesmerising live performance by Suneden and the Blues Boys Band, which captivated everyone present. It was a moment of celebration and friendship that will be cherished for years to come.
The Modi Khola Express V International White Water Kayaking Championship was a resounding success, setting new records in female category and exemplifying inclusivity and empowerment. It served as a rallying cry to protect Nepal’s rivers and highlighted the resilience of the kayaking community.
Special thanks go to the event’s sponsors: Himalayan Outdoor Project, Spade Kayaks, Viking Rafting Iceland, JIGI Outdoor Nepal, Zostel Pokhara, Paddle Nepal, Hostel Karuna, and Hyperlite Mountain Gear. The support of volunteers, local communities, and well-wishers was instrumental in making this championship a grand success.
Looking ahead, mark your calendars for the sixth edition of the Modi Khola Express International White Water Kayaking Championship, scheduled for October 24th to 26th, 2024. As the sun sets on the sturdy Nepali landscape, the legacy of this thrilling championship continues to grow, promising even more excitement and adventure in the years to come.