The countdown is on. In nine days, the best of the best in kayaking will meet in Austria’s Ötztal valley for the 2011 adidas Sickline Extreme Kayak World Championship to crown the world champion in extreme kayak sprint on the legendary Wellerbrücke rapids. Never before has the field been as competitive as this year, which will make the battle for the much sought-after World Champion’s belt even more thrilling. Several European TV stations will broadcast the final of the top 15 live. For the fifth year in a row, the world’s best whitewater kayakers will meet in the small town of Oetz at the entrance of Tirol’s Ötztal to determine the fastest extreme kayaker. This year, around 140 athletes representing no less than 25 different countries participate in the adidas Sickline Extreme Kayak World Championship, including Argentina, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the United States, Russia and all of Europe. The top class field also includes slalom and freestyle world champions. "When focusing on outdoor sports you can’t get around a sport that is as fascinating as kayaking“, says Axel Burkhardt, head of Olympic Sports, Cycling and Outdoor at adidas Global Sports Marketing. "That’s why we created the adidas Sickline Worlds in 2007, offering the best paddlers on the globe a new competitive platform. A top-class race on a challenging course that’s is called the 'Eigher North Wall' of whitewater sports for a good reason. Of course, we run an extensive safety operation to secure the athletes’ highest possible safety.“ World’s elite of kayaking at the start There are no official federations and organisations within extreme kayaking. The best whitewater kayakers can be found more on expeditions and first descents than at races, but they are very athletic and very skilled, which is why there had been a strong desire amongst extreme kayakers to have a World Championship. The adidas Sickline tests the kayakers’ ability to not only get down one of the world’s most challenging rapids in one piece, but to do it fast as well. In addition to the world’s best whitewater kayakers the adidas Sickline attracts many of the best slalom and freestyle paddlers, because they can combine their technical skill and fitness with adrenaline. This is why the start list reads like the who’s who in kayaking. Dane Jackson (USA), three time gold medallist at Freestyle World Championship 2011, Grand Prix Champion 2011, 12 time National Champion; Sam Sutton (NZL), adidas Sickline World Champion 2010 and silver medallist 2008, Team Race World Champion 2009/2010, 1st Vail Mountain Games 2010; Michele Ramazza (ITA), 1st Extreme Sport Veko 2009/2011, adidas Sickline siver medallist 2010, bronze medallist adidas Sickline 2008; Nick Troutman (CAN), Freestyle World Champion 2010/2009; Fabian Dörfler (GER), multiple Slalom World Cup Champion, World and European Champion as well as Team World Champion 2010; Vavrinec Hradilek (CZE), Slalom World Champion 2009 and silver medallist 2010; Isaac Levinson (USA), 2nd Green Race 2009/ 2010, 4th Teva Mountain Games Steep Creek 2010, 6th Teva Mountain Games Steep Creek 2011; Mike Dawson (NZL), adidas Sickline silver medallist 2009, Team Race World Champion 2009/2010, 1st Extreme Sport Veko 2008, 2nd Teva Extreme Mountain Games 2009; Eric Déguil (FRA), 1st Green Race 2008/2009, 1st Cantabria Extreme Race 2008 and Team Race silver medallist 2009; Dejan Kralj (SLO), 1st Teva Extreme Outdoor Games 2009, 5th adidas Sickline 2010, 4th adidas Sickline 2009/2008, Jakobus Stenglein (GER), bronze medallist adidas Sickline 2009, Slalom Team World Champion 1999; Ron Fischer (SUI), 1st King of Falls 2011, 1st Egua Freeride 2011, 1st Futa Downriver Race 2011; Rafa Ortiz (MEX), second tallest waterfall rund in the world (128.6 ft); Rush Sturges (USA), Freestyle Junior World Champion, 3rd White Water Grand Prix 2011; Severin Häberling (SUI), 2 time Swiss Champion Freestyle; Lukas Kalbrenner (GER), bronze medallist adidas Sickline 2010; Fabrice Poueyto (FRA), Team Race silver medallist 2009; 1st Acececa River Mexico 2011, 14th adidas Sickline 2010, 10th adidas Sickline 2009; Honza Lasko (CZE), overall winner Teva Extreme Games 2008 and 1st Ula Extreme Race 2010.