At the famous Wellerbrücke, the Ötztaler Ache River holds one of the most sophisticated whitewater sections on earth, thus the perfect setting to determine the world’s best extreme kayakers. For safety reasons, public authorities have closed this particular section of the river. It is only open for the adidas Sickline Extreme Kayak World Championship.
"Safeguarding is vital in our sport and it is somehow a routine job for whitewater kayakers”, says Olaf Obsommer, race director and founder of Sickline. „However, there is a huge difference if one is responsible for a small group of paddler friends who all know each other very well or if one is responsible for more than 170 athletes from 25 different countries. Then you have to pull out all the stops.”
Water rescue services, mountain rescue services, and the Austrian Red Cross work hand in hand to secure the highest possible safety of the athletes from around the world. The teams are using innovative life saving tools, like ropeways that are built by Mountain Rescue Tyrol prior to the event, in order to shorten rescue ways and thus rescue intervals on the extremely difficult terrain and to increase the rescue comfort. The challenging task is also an appreciated practice to train the smooth interaction of rescue forces ashore, in the water and on the mountain. "The adidas Sickine World Championship gave us the opportunity to demonstrate our know-how and skills on a very difficult terrain”, says Peter Veider, MD of Mountain Rescue Tyrol. "We are already looking forward to this year’s event.”
Michael Huber of the Austrian Water Rescue Services Tyrol is also enthused about the smooth collaboration between the rescue services and the organisers within the scope of the adidas Sickline Worlds: “Despite having safeguarded at several international events, the size and complexity of this sport event was unique. The readiness of the organiser to create such an extensive safety concept and, what’s more, to really implement it was new to us. Since safety truly comes first at this event, I consider the adidas Sickline World Championship as exemplary.”
The rescue teams are supported by the event-own, 6-person swiftwater rescue Crew. “I think there are few sports events that pay so much attention to safety”, says event director Mike Hamel, MD of the organising agency PLANET TALK. “We try to always be a step ahead. This year, like last year, we took out a personal accident insurance for our participants. Fortunately we never had to salvage someone, but these days you often meet a problem, that the rescued person is not sufficiently insured. That’s why we protect our participants by including an accident insurance for the weekend in our start fee. It covers salvage expenses like helicopter flights, rescue and emergency medical services, disability or cosmetic surgery.”