Piteälven – Euro Cup Freestyle Event


I bet you were thinking that I’d say that I woke up to a hot tent. Well you’re wrong! We had some rain come and go and I lay in the tent for a long time that morning. It was fairly cold all of a sudden and with long sleeved top and pants the mozzies were kept at bay. Thank goodness…

I took a paddle down to the freestyle wave and watched the early rounds for quite some time. The weather started to really turn ugly so a bunch of us headed back. We had a good meal and then I just lay in my tent on my own for about three hours and didn’t do very much. It was great to just lie down and think. I find that these days one rarely has the time for some reflection and I enjoyed the solitude too. For those that don’t know me I prefer not to be around people most of the time although I can be quite social from time to time.


Peter Csonka making it look so easy with his powerful style.


Mikael Lantto with a sweet Fisher King.


The set-up at the Paltvalsen before the actual competition.


At about 18:30 I paddled down to the wave to watch the final and semi-finals. By 19:15 it was raining lightly. Luckily I had brought some beers with as well as a small bottle of Amarula Cream that believe it or not I had bought on the border of Finland and Sweden! In case you’re wondering how the hell I remembered all of this I bought a notepad somewhere along the way and tried to keep a rough diary of the daily happenings. And in case you’re also wondering how I managed to take so many photos it really is quite simple. I had thirteen gigs worth of memory cards for the camera. It would have been way too much effort and extra luggage to take a lap top with and where would I charge it? We were always on the road and the memory cards took up very little space. They were expensive to buy in the first place but I think well worth it at the end of the day. Depending on your ambitions you may consider taking a lot more in terms of memory or get a portable device where you can download to.


An unknown paddler enjoying himself.


Peter Csonka surfing a wave upstream that he caught on the fly.


Peter Csonka and his girlfriend Nina Halasova.


Mikael Lantto going huge!


Tuomas Vaarala (foreground) with Mikael behind him and Nina surfing the wave.


Tuomas Vaarala making the best of what he considers a small wave...


Another unknown paddler peeling out of the eddy towards the main wave and missing the first smaller but faster wave.


Peter Csonka again.


You may notice that most of the pictures have some decent light and the people are not wearing their vests with their numbers on. I’ve hardly put in any photos from the actually competition day as the lighting was just really terrible. It was really cool to be there and I thoroughly enjoyed it. After a long battle it was Peter Csonka who won with Mikael Lantto second and Tuomas Kuronen in third, two Finnish men in second and third place, not bad at all. Deb Pinniger took the woman’s event with Nina Halasova a close second.


By 22:30 it was over and back to camp. Everyone was very festive and the booze flowed steadily. I started on the Stroh Rum and never looked back. At some stage we made our way to the main tent for the prize giving. No one really knew what was going on throughout the competition and word of mouth from a fellow boater would be the standard form of communication to find out what was happening. Apart from Miku’s second place in the freestyle he also got a shared first place overall for the competition. Needless to say he and every other Finn was super stoked and we partied pretty hard!


Mikael Lantto aka Miku.


Jon Best ripping it up beautifully in practise and then failing to impress in the competition.


Peter Csonka late at night. He managed to easily take first place in the freestyle.


My transport down to the Palt Wave.


The competition day brought some bad weather with it.


Juho, Sami, Tuomas and I hit the portable sauna with a bunch of other people and carried on drinking. I bought some beers from the main tent at an incredibly expensive price (well, by South African standards) and we carried on in the sauna for a total of an hour and a half. The powerful rum and beers were taking their effect and I remember going for a nice swim in the river to cool down from the sauna. Tuomas said it was the funniest thing to see me just lying there in the river.


Mikael Lantto with a massive Fisher King on competition day! His second place for the freestyle and shared first place overall was well deserved. A big well done Miku!  :-)


Better weather on one of the other days at the wave.


Overall it was an excellent party and I’ll never forget that one! I eventually tried some snus from Samuli and it burnt the hell out of my upper lip as I kept it in there for about a half an hour. It is supposed to make you relax or dizzy or something but I guess the rum was calling the shots and all I know is that my lip was fairly sensitive for days afterwards. No wonder its cancer causing stuff. But I must say it’s not that bad at all.


After the portable sauna it was time to visit a whole bunch of other Swedish dudes that were pretty hammered and then hit the Finnish tent sauna. It took a while to fire it up and while waiting alone I grilled a sausage inside! Samuli, Satu and Juho joined me as we waited for the sauna to get better. Then the sauna was taken over by a whole group of Swedish dudes that were very drunk, naked and loud. We all had a good laugh and Sami joined in at some stage too. Miku had faded early by probably over doing it and Tuomas was on another mission too. I climbed into bed at 06:40 the following day… An excellent way to finish a great day!






Photography by: Adrian Tregoning.

Words by: Adrian Tregoning.


Next article: Gaustaälven, Sweden. (Don’t miss this one!!!)