Rafting Team Profile - Raft Team Denmark Ladies
Rafting Magazine was recently able to catch up with Raft Team Denmark Ladies after the IRF World Championships. This group of amazing athletes quickly became one of our favorite teams on the raft racing circuit today. The stories that these women have and their drive to become the best is a powerful inspiration to boaters everywhere. After all, in a country with no whitewater it is great to see a group so driven to become the best despite the logistical challenges that they face. So, we wanted to know who these powerful ladies are and what drives them to succeed.
RM: What is the current roster (2017) of your team and their paddling experience. Also if each of the ladies of your team could pass on one piece of their wisdom to boater girls just getting into the sport what would that be?
RTDL: We don’t have one particular favorite craft. Our European Championship 2016 (silver Slalom medal) team was Ida, Lillian, Pia, Manja, and Martina. Our 2017 roster isn’t set quite yet. It might be a challenge for us to find 6 women who are able to attend the European and/or the World Championships. If Denmark will be represented, it will most likely be by some of these women:
I tried commercial rafting several times before I - in 2012 - found a rafting club in Copenhagen and joined at the same time as Martina (what a coincidence!). We stuck around and trained with the guys, while tried to find two more women to paddle with, so we could attend competitions, and from then it just escalated! I’ve been to several competitions around in Europe, and latest I was part of the team who competed in the Worlds. For new girls just getting into rafting, I’d say it’s important to listen to others wisdom, to keep practicing and keep pushing your own limits as well as your team’s, knowing the risk of rafting and taking safety practice seriously. But most importantly: remember to have fun!
I have been rafting since 2012. I used to work as a raft guide on the Sjoa River in Norway. After I returned home to Copenhagen I joined the Danish rafting team and I have participated in rafting competitions since 2015. Besides rafting I do a lot of kayaking (both creek and slalom), skiing and yoga – only one of these things are possible to in Denmark, so I get to travel a lot :) My advice to people getting into the sport is; to have fun, respect your teammates and practice getting back in your boat after a flip :)
I joined the rafting club this summer (2016) with the ambition to not only enjoy the leisure of rafting, but to also (in time) excel at the rafting-techniques and participate in competitions. Prior to this, I had tried rafting whenever possible while traveling, as the thrill and the manoeuvres on the white water intrigued me. I have been rowing for the past 10 years, kayaking for a few years, I’m a ski instructor, and I’ve also studied Sports Science, so sports in general, and particularly outdoor sports, are not foreign to me. With the little experience I have so far with competition, the slalom is the discipline I am most fascinated by, primarily because of the high level of skill required and the importance of cooperation within the raft.
I tried out rafting on the Big Eddy in Bend, Oregon back in the early 2000's. Although it was a great experience, I spent most of my water time surfing, and didn't get back into a raft until meeting up with the Raft Team Denmark Ladies this last summer (2016). This is a great and encouraging team, and this in and of itself reminds you to work together and uplift each other.
I was introduced to rafting as a sport in 2007, though my younger brother, who had been competing in rafting for some years. In the beginning I trained with the men in the club, but soon we were enough women to make a team of our own. Since Denmark has no white water, it was mostly up to our selves to figure out techniques and how to train, but we managed to create a team completely from scratch. Our first international competition was the European Championship in 2008 in Austria, and one year later we participated in the World Championships. After that, most of the team members quit, so they could focus on their family. I tried creating a new team, but found it hard to keep myself motivated when training paddlers with no experience, so I decided to stop as well and focus on other sports. When I heard about this team, I joined team in 2013. It is the versatility in in the sport, that I love - you have to be both technically good, strong, have a great endurance, and work together as a team. My best advice to other teams getting into the sport is to recognize your strengths and weaknesses as a team and as individuals, and from that you should create realistic goals. And not just goals that are about the results, but goals that will make you feel successful, stay positive, and enhance the team spirit.
I started rafting after I got introduced to it through Copenhagen Watersports in 2013, where I started out with Stand Up Paddling a couple of months earlier. Before that, I had no paddling experience. Although I had done a lot of different team sports, nothing was like rafting where you really have to act as a team, and not an individual in a team. My advice to new paddlers is to get as much time on the (white) water as possible and see what others are doing, because you learn something new every time. And most importantly; have fun together on as well as off the water as a team.
I started paddling due to a sports injury. Seeking new challenges and ways for me to push myself, I discovered water sports. This summer I started stand up paddle board (SUP), but I quickly realized that something was missing. I came across rafting in which working together as a team and maintaining a good team spirit is key to succeeding. It is very inspiring for me to overcome mental- and physical challenges as part of a tightly knit group building everlasting friendships. Rafting is a completely new sport for me and I do not have a lot of experience on whitewater. I love the feeling of the boat gliding through the water and everybody working together as a team, and I’m looking forward to learn how to read white water and get to know my teammates better.
I got started with rafting the summer of 2012. Before that I had only been paddling as a tourist in Peru, Tibet, and Spain since I was 12 years old and I feel in love with the raft and the moving water. After my rafting trip in Peru, I knew I had to learn more. I found a rafting club in Copenhagen, and they introduced me to the world of competitive paddling - quickly I got caught up in the team spirit and here I am today. I learn something new every time I am on the water and that keeps me going. And the best part is that I get to share it with the team. I am not the biggest and strongest person, but in this sport, that should not stop you, if you are willing to put in an effort - or at least it has not stopped me. My drive is being part of a team and sharing something that I really enjoy. I would say that my biggest asset is my focus on the social part. I believe a good team is a happy and united team. Because no matter what happens out there on the water, you are in it together, and when you work as one, that is where the magic happens. That is what counts in my world.
I joined the rafting club in the summer of 2013, with the intent of taking a few trips now and then. But when someone suggested we could do it competitively, it thought “why not, it’ll give me more time on whitewater”. With no paddling experience whatsoever, I learned new things every time I was on the water and I still have a lot to learn about reading the water. But I had a lot of experience in competitive team sport – I played team handball on a very serious level, until I gave it up to focus on rafting. My strongest skill is setting the paddle-pace for the boat, and I have a pretty good feel for the angle of the boat. My favorite discipline in raft racing is the Slalom, since I love feeling the boat react to the water, and I love catching eddies. For me the big difference between taking a rafting trip now and then and doing raft racing is thinking and acting as a team, and not as an individual or a guide, so my advice to anyone getting into rafting as a sport would be: when every paddler has a job, the team does better everyone has more fun.
I started doing Stand Up Paddling, where I meet the girls on the team, who then introduced me to rafting. Before then, I had never done any water sports, so in the beginning, white water rafting was a bit overwhelming. In the spring of 2015, I participated in my first competition, which got me hooked on the sport. Every time I am on the water, I learn something new and for me the team spirit and the social aspects are part of what keeps me motivated. My advice for new paddlers would be to get on the white water as quickly as possible - that is what will give you the feel of the water. However safety is of course important - learn to swim, have the safety talk and know your limits. Other than that, it is important to get to know each other as a team. The boat works best, when everyone cooperates and to do this, you need to know each other well - not just your strengths and weaknesses in the boat, but also how each of you work and think, as an individual. So remember to have social activities as a team. It is more important than you think, and: Remember to have fun!
RM: Where does your team train? Do you typically use natural or man made rafting courses? How does the team challenge itself to continually develop their boating and guiding skills?
RTDL: Denmark has no white water rivers - nor artificial courses (yet), so our weekly trainings at home are on the flat water in the canals of Copenhagen. To the big amusement of locals and tourists :) For white water training, we travel several times a year. We go to Sweden 2-3 times in the beginning of the year, and we also travel to England to train in Nottingham, Lee Valley, etc. We’ve had the privilege to have the GB Rafting team(s) coach us in the UK, and we’ve flown some of them in to Denmark for a weekend to coach all of us on the flat water.
RM: What does for your team do to prepare for a race?
RTDL: We plan as many white water trips as possible, so we can build experience, confidence, and team spirit. We also practice swimming in whitewater, flipping, reflipping, etc. Besides that, we try to arrive early for competitions, so we can get as much white water experience as possible, when we are out traveling anyway. And of course, we keep in good shape by endurance training and weightlifting.
RM: Which discipline does your team prefer?
RTDL: Our best result was actually in the Slalom discipline (2nd place at the 2016 European Championships), but at most competitions we’re best in the Downriver. Here we’re really able to use all the hours of flatwater training to our advantage - especially if the race is on an artificial course, where flat water paddling is a natural part of the Downriver.
RM: You mentioned that some of the girls are planning to take some time off and there are some new candidates. How do you determine who makes the team and who gets cut?
RTDL: It’s actually pretty easy, unfortunately. It’s based on who can take time off from work/school, and who can afford all the traveling (training and competitions). If we’re ever in a situation where we have too many who can go, we will fly in our coach from England to set the best team.
If you want to learn more about Denmark's Women's Rafting Team please check out their website and please follow them on Instagram or Facebook. We want to give a special thank you to Manja Hansen for arranging the interview with the team and sending us some great photos. Good Luck on the 2017 race circuit ladies!