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11 April 2009 10:48 PM

PROFILE EXTREME KAYAKER : Adidas SICKLINE Indonesia Expedition 2009

Sumber: PB FAJI


Adidas SICKLINE Indonesia Expedition 2009




Date of birth: 05.06.1982


I started kayaking when I was 13 years old. I was a rugby player at the time, but physically I don’t think rugby was the best sport for me (chicken legs). When I came home from rugby I always passed a kayak club on the way and one day my dad and I decided to pull in there. We had a quick go and thought it was a lot of fun. A bit later I finished playing rugby and started kayaking (perfect for my chicken legs!). When you start kayaking, you have to learn how to roll the kayak. Then it is up to you what you do. You must put in the time and go kayaking as much as you can to get better skills. So that’s what I did. My first experience on the river was an eight meter water fall. All you have to do is to get in your kayak, stay up-right and the river drops off into a big pool. It is fairly safe, but that was my first taste of the adrenaline that comes along with paddling white water and from that moment on I was addicted and wanted more.


I had a couple of mates, Trent Garnham and a few others. They used to pick me up after school and take me over to the Kaituna River. This is the most popular river in New Zealand and I used to go there after school. I loved it! I just paddled rivers for a few years. Then I got involved in slalom racing and I loved the competition side of things. I wanted to race and I wanted to win and so I became the top slalom kayaker in New Zealand. I was on the national team for six years traveling to Europe and the US racing in the world slalom racing circuit. At the same time I missed paddling rivers. So last year, I decided to hang my slalom boat up and get out there and paddle more rivers.


Right now I am at the start of an around the world tour visiting the world’s best kayak destinations with a friend, Ben Brown. We have been to California and Austria, next we will go to Switzerland and then we go up to Iceland and we finish off in Norway. We are shooting an HD video and are taking photos the whole way. I’ve got a few connections to TV stations in New Zealand, so they will take our footage. In Iceland we will meet a film crew called Matchstick productions that has made some of the best skiing movies. They produce the TV program ‘focus’ for an American HD TV station called ‘Rush HD’. The series is mainly ski movies, but they also include some mountain biking and a couple of kayaking parts. Steve Fisher will be in that one as well. It is exciting to be involved in a production of that scale and I have always liked paddling with these guys.


In New Zealand, I work for a sports academy called Waiariki Academy of Sports. I am a physical conditioner, I write training programs for athletes. It is a great job to have, because they are very flexible with my kayaking travels and I will go back to that job after my two months around the world trip. I have always aimed to be the best you can, but you never know where you will end up. I just keep on doing what I enjoy and what I feel like I am good at. There are always different trips coming up - I just have to wait and see what the next exciting trip is that I want to join.


I have done some kayaking in Sumatra in 2002/2003 and I want to go back there, because there is a lot of scope for more rivers to be found and possibly first descents. For a kayaker you can compare a first descent to climbing a mountain for the first time. You go somewhere where no-one else has been. I think that going somewhere where no-one else has been is an amazing feeling. You get to see the landscape of that region from a unique perspective in a kayak. Another fascinating thing about kayaking is the adrenaline aspect, which is great fun. You push yourself to go harder and harder and paddle bigger waterfalls and bigger whitewater. Then there’s the social side of things. You are hanging out with your mates and it is a great way to spend time in the outdoors with your friends. Finally, there’s the exercise: kayaking keeps me fit. It is an upper body work out, but you have to walk to the river and walk back from the river. Recently I walked 22 kilometers with a 30 kg kayak on my back just to get to the river. You are walking over mountains and across rough terrain so as a kayaker you have to be fit for that reason.


I grew up surfing. My dad is a keen surfer so I got into it, too. It is a passion of mine and I will always keep surfing. At home in the winter I also go skiing and snowboarding. When I can find the time. I have a girlfriend. She is not a kayaker and I like the contrast. I am gone a lot, but that gives us plenty of space.



Coming from a background of slalom racing which gives a kayaker a lot of specific skills, you learn to read the river really well. You get strong and you can do the strokes correctly – that is a huge advantage when I am racing in extreme races. It is also very helpful when paddling technical rivers. In slalom racing you always have to visualize the course before you are racing it. It’s the same thing when you paddle a hard rapid - you have to visualize the exact line the whole way down before you do it. As I get older I get more respect for the river, and whoever doesn’t is a danger to themselves.


Another strength I have for kayaking is my background of water sports. After surfing in some pretty heavy waves I have learnt to stay calm in stressful situations. I think this is a lifesaving skill and needs to be considered and practiced by all whitewater kayakers.





Date of birth: 02.05.1970


I come from a canoe sport family. My parents have canoed for decades. I almost had no choice. They introduced me to the sport the old-fashioned way, through a club. My parents were very active members of the canoe club in Wuppertal. My father was a trainer there. When I was 7 or 8 years old I started to do canadier races, but only as a student. My brother who is 4.5 years older was also a canoeist. One day my parents realised that we enjoyed whitewater kayaking and trips with picnic and foldboat a lot more than just stupefying training. Therefore they joined another club in Hilden near Düsseldorf which had a much better youth development programme for leisure activities. That was back in 1983. During the week we trained on the lake and on the weekends we paddled on rivers like the Erft.


In 1985 we spend our vacation in the Durance valley in France. My parents weren’t particularly good whitewater kayakers and couldn’t be our guides. But the canoe association offered trips for families lead by experienced guides. My brother and I always took off with the guides. Back then I ran my first difficult whitewater, up to level V. My mother wasn’t happy about that. She didn’t want us to go kayaking in such hard whitewater. However, by that time I was already addicted to the sport. I had been infected by the whitewater virus and I wanted to go kayaking as much as possible. My brother on the other hand quit shortly after that. He was 18 back then and had other interests.


In those years Hans Memminger made it big. He was one of the pioneers of the sport, made expeditions and shot films all over the world. I always visited his film shows and knew I wanted to make such expeditions one day – discovering foreign countries, cultures and whitewater. Due to the dispute with my Mom I waited desperately for my 18th birthday. I saved money for my driving license, bought a car and travelled four weeks through the Alps with a friend. In the river guide of the German canoe association we picked out all rivers with WW level V/VI to unrunnable. Then we checked them all out, from Tyrol to Slovenia. From that moment on I was a fanatic. We drove from Düsseldorf to the Alps or the Ticino just for the weekend. We left on Friday directly after work and returned on Sunday evening. At that time I did my apprenticeship to become a certified industrial mechanic.


What has always appealed to me is discovering new, unknown rivers. Of course that involves a lot of time and effort, because you have to climb a lot, search and explore. But that was my exploration fever. At the same time I was keen to try out new paddling techniques. I watched different movies, tried to adopt these techniques and to improve them. I was really keen on sports back then and trained two hours each day. I would have loved to go kayaking every day, but I simply didn’t have the time. You always had to drive to get to the water. I have also played handball for 20 years and I was ambitious in that sport, too. I played in the regional league. In the A-Youth class we were NRW vice champion. Then I made the mistake and didn’t change the club. Our men’s team wasn’t so strong, but it was still a lot of fun.


End of the eighties I got my university-entrance diploma and did my alternative civilian service. I was still on track for the career my parents had planned for me: mechanical engineer. My Dad always wanted to go to university, but he never had the chance. So he wanted to give me the opportunity he never had. I did my civilian service in mobile care for the elderly and I am proud to say that I was one of the few who did not miss a single day of work, because I really enjoyed my job. There I also started thinking. I realised that I wanted to do something that I enjoy. After all you work all your life.


In 1991, after my civilian service, I made my first overseas trip to British Columbia, Canada. I was there for seven weeks to bridge the time to my study. Two friends accompanied me and we did a lot of whitewater kayaking. When I came home I knew that I didn’t want to go to university. Neither mechanical engineering nor medicine appealed to me. I was matriculated for 1.5 years, but never attended any class, so I left the university after that period. During that time I worked stationary at a residential home for the elderly and always had my vision to do more kayaking. The institution in Haan accommodated well with my plans. I worked there as temp and always filled in for someone who was sick. And since in this kind of job there is always a high number of staff away sick I could have worked 365 days a year. I worked 180 to 200 hours per month, but got only paid for half the time and saved the rest on a time account. Whenever I had three months on that account I made trip into the big, wide world to seeking for new kayak adventures. Between 1992 and 1998 I was in Costa Rica, Canada, California, Idaho, Reunion and Malawi. When I was in Africa in 1995 I did a first descent of the Shire, the efflux of Lake Malawi. There we did not only have to cope with massive whitewater, but also with crocodile and hippo attacks.


I then realised that in order to run more whitewater I need another income source. Friends of mine, Manu Arnu and Michael Neumann, took photographs and refunded their trips by organising slide shows and selling their pictures to canoe magazines. In 1997 I thought that I could start doing that, too, in order to get a little sponsorship. However, since the market is so small the guys said we would just compete with each other and suggested I should buy a video camera instead and start filming. That was the year in which the first digital mini camcorders were launched. I bought the first ever 3-chip consumer camera on the market for 5000 Marks. From then things were looking up. In 1998 I moved from Haan in North Rhine-Westphalia to Nussdorf at the Inn near Rosenheim (Bavaria). I desperately wanted to live in the South, closer to whitewater and moved into the kayak flat share. When we were in California in 1997 we had the idea to open a flat share and launch kayak activities together. A friend of mine found a house at the same time and moved in with a few friends. Fortunately I immediately found a job as elderly care nurse.


I filmed for two years, from 1997 to 1998. Then it was time to do something with all my footage. I couldn’t afford a fancy edit. Hans Mayer, the owner of La Ola, Europe’s coolest kayak shop and one of my motivators and mentors, encouraged me to produce a film. I had financial problems, but he had motivated me so much, that I pushed it through anyway. Through Horst Führsattel I got in touch with Udo Neumann. He produced rock climbing movies and he edited my first film - Boof Chicken Boof. At that point in time it was clear in my mind that I would not become a professional kayaker and that I have to live off something. So I started an education as professional elderly care nurse which I completed in 2000. At the same time I produced four movies (Boof Chicken Boof, Sickline 1, ‘Richtig Rodeo Fahren’ and Sickline 2). Sickline 1 I still edited with Udo Neumeann. With that film I won several first prizes at adventure and mountain film festivals. However, I was always hard-pressed for money and Udo said I should buy my own PC and he would give me the software, because now I knew how to do it. He still supported me, of course, but I started editing the movies myself.


In 2000 I stood at a crossroads. Right after my education I worked six months as an elderly care nurse. However, the development with my films Sickline 2 and ‚Richtig Rodeo Fahren’ went so well that I decided to give it a chance and try living off my projects. I gave myself a deadline of five years. After five years I had to be in a position to create financial reserves for the future and not to live from hand to mouth so I could support a family one day.


In 2001 we were the first European team to run the Grand Canyon of the Stikine (Canada) which is somewhat the Mt. Everest of whitewater. We were also the first to run it completely from source to estuary mouth. With the film „Stikine the Great River” I had my breakthrough. I organised a Europe-wide film tour with screenings in clubs and kayak shops. Since then I have arranged a big film tour and smaller trips every single year and opened up an additional income source by means of DVD sales, film shows and sponsoring.


In the past years I have been about thirty times to Norway, the result of which as a river guide which I produced together with Jens Klatt. According to the feedback we received thus far it is the best river guide on the market as yet. I also continued with my travels all over the world. I was at Canada’s largest cataracts, the Slave River, at Zambesi in Africa, in Turkey as well as all over Europe like Spain, Italy, Montenegro, France, Austria and Switzerland. On the Maldives I produced a sea kayaking film and on the Boron Lakes in Canada a canadier film. In addition I started encouraging young people to produce movies. One of the most successful projects was certainly Painkillerz with Jens Klatt.


I came to adidas via Peter Hertrampf, the owner of Quattro Media, one of Europe’s leading actions sports film production companies. He had seen my movies Sickline 1 and 2 at the film festival in Trento and hired me as Norway and whitewater expert for his team when he got the job from adidas to produce a kayak film in Norway. It was a very intensive time, just five days for production. I loved this project and was very committed to it. I met Axel Burkhardt from adidas, who also put his heart and soul into this project, in Norway. We liked each other at first glance and the result was a friendly work relationship the output of which culminates in adidas Sickline Team.


For me, the fascination of the kayak sport lies in the combination of nature and sportive achievement in a moving element. It creates a prickle of excitement that brims me over with enthusiasm. It is also the experience to have mastered something difficult. You learn to make decisions. And you instantly feel the consequence if you have taken the wrong one. Trough kayaking I’ve learned a lot for life. In extreme whitewater it is also the adrenaline that gets you addicted to the sport. You simply want more.



My EQ (Emotional intelligence quotient)









Date of birth: 08.09.1983


In the summer of 1991, I was in South Tyrol with my parents. There I saw some people rafting. I was enthused, but too young, of course, to try it myself. At my birthplace, Bayreuth, the swim club had a canoe division, so in fall I started kayaking together with my older sister and I did my first attempt at paddling in the indoor swimming pool.


The swim club Bayreuth mainly engages in canoe slalom, so in 1992 I already competed in my first slalom races and after one or two years I started to be successful. The national federation recognised my talent and took me in the rookie squad. For a long time I was the smallest guy in my age group so temporarily I had a hard time keeping up with the others. But in 2001 I managed, by the skin of my teeth, to advance to the junior national team, which for me was like birthday and Christmas at once.


Thenceforward, things were looking up: in 2002 the first world championship with the grownups and after my high school graduation in 2003 and moving to Augsburg the entry into the sports support group of the German Federal Armed Forces. 2004 I curtly missed the qualification for the Olympics and resolved afterwards to train so hard that I would be able to attend Beijing 2008. My collection of medals since 2005 speaks for itself. I was World Champion, both single and team, European Champion, German Champion and two times the Overall World Cup Winner which is not bad, I think. I was fit in 2008, however at the national selection I was beaten by my club mate Alex who eventually won Olympic gold.


As I am a lucky fellow, in the summer of 2007 a contract for the adidas Sickline team fell into my hands. It couldn’t be any better!

Now I’m having a little break from slalom racing, which is good. I am enjoying whitewater kayaking and I am really looking forward to all my future trips, rivers and extreme races that I’m about to experience with the adidas sickline team.



Determination, Reliability



I am straight forward.







Date of birth: 25.12.1982


It’s hard to recall, when exactly I started to paddle. My parents were active travellers as long as I can remember. In their youth they travelled a lot and participated in different sport events, also in whitewater expeditions. I used to go backpacking a lot with all my family on boats, and not only. Summer was the paddling season, and winters we spent in the mountains, skiing. We travelled a lot all over the territory of the ex-USSR. I always loved to go to new exciting places and on return tell my schoolmates where and how I spent my summer. Compared to their stories I had so much to tell!


I got into professional sport early in life and have stayed there until now. When I was 7, my parents brought me to a judo club. One year later, being 8 years of age, I won my first bronze medal at Latvian Championship in the weight category to 30 kg. I got a bit heavier and stronger the following year and won another bronze medal at the same championship. Everything seemed to go well, but during one of the training sessions I landed awkwardly and broke my leg. While I was sitting at home plastered, my passion for judo gradually quietened. So I stopped training.


For some time I simply loafed around with my friends, which definitely was something my mom didn’t like much. She suggested I should try volleyball. I loved playing it from the very first training and the game absorbed me. In 1998 I became the champion of Latvia in beach volleyball and one year later I was taken into the national team. At that time many people told me I was a bit too short for the game but I always tried to prove that being 183 cm tall is enough to reach a very high level. For this I had to train more than others. We travelled the world a lot, representing Latvia at numerous World and Europe championships. In 2002 I was in top 3 at all competitions where I took part. Unfortunately, at the end of the same year I tore the shoulder muscle while skiing.


This injury marked another breaking point in my career. I had to drop out of training for a year. My consulting physician suggested that I should build up the shoulder muscle. So I decided to call to memory what I did when I was a kid. I started to paddle around Latvia. One day on a river I met a rafter from Russia. We started a conversation; he said that he and his friends are going to Siberia, to Altai Mountains and offered me to join them.


From this moment on my life took a very sharp turn. I found myself increasingly interested in kayaking and spent more and more time on the water. The following year I undertook another trip to Altai and stayed there for a longer time period. After that summer season I attempted to return to volleyball and got into the national team again. But I understood that it was not the same level as before. Besides, I was tired of volleyball and kayaking was giving me much more positive emotional charge. So I let the great game called kayaking carry me away completely. I started travelling around Europe, getting more and more obsessed with it.


In 2006 I decided to go to Altai again. For 4 months I did nothing but paddle class V rivers. The whole summer my friends and I travelled, paddled and shot a video about what we saw and did. The outcome of it was the film “Top grade”.


Since then every winter was a torture for me. All I could think about was the next season. I made plans for the summer and tried to earn some money. I started to look at many things in a new way, started to think differently.


For me kayaking is not simply travelling by boat, it’s much deeper and more meaningful than that. I like to see the world, visit places unreachable to most people outside kayaking. I like meeting different people in distant places of the Earth. And, of course, now I have many friends with whom I share my passion. The more I travel, the better I understand myself. Entering the adidas Sickline team is a great achievement for me. I’m happy to have the opportunity to travel together with very good kayakers and achieve my goals! It’s worth saying: our life is so short and the world - so huge!



Strengths: I’m a very calm person. I’m able to control my emotions.


Weaknesses: Sometimes lazy. And I feel very bad and helpless when I see other people cry.





14 June 1988


Occupation: Extreme Kayaker / Student


Number of years kayaking: 3.5 years




1st - Andy Duff Memorial - Short Boat

1st - Andy Duff Memorial - Long Boat

2nd - Teva Buller Fest Boater Cross

3rd - Wairoa Extreme Race


1st - NZ Freestyle Series Open Men

1st - Bliss-Fest Freestyle

1st - Andy Duff Memorial - Short Boat

2nd - Teva Buller Fest Big Air Ramp

21st - Freestyle World Championship Open Men


1st - NZ Junior Men Freestyle Championship

2nd - Round 1 World Cup Junior Men

3rd - Freestyle World Cup Junior Men



Kayak of choice:

Bliss-Stick Mystic

Bliss-Stick RAD 180



Any last words:

My favourite river would be the Kaituna River as it's just around the corner and offers a wide variety of moves plus there is a beer garden at the top. California however is awesome with endless granite slides, big drops, predictable weather and good fast food!



Sam's Blog: www.waiariki.blogspot.com

Sam's Web: www.samsutton.com


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