Nouria Newmann – The girl who proves that kayaking is about feeling, not strength

Nouria Newman loves nothing more than whitewater kayaking, in all its forms, be it freestyle, obstacle or extreme kayaking. Although competition has always been a part of her kayaking career (2009 Junior Freestyle Kayak World Championships, 2013 Obstacle Kayak World Championships, 2013 and 2014 Extreme Kayak World Championships) , she doesn’t replace being in a beautiful river with her friends.

Tour of the Balkan rivers

Nouria Newmann

“Le Villaret du Nial”. People always make a funny face when I tell them where I come from: a village in France that they don’t know because it has no more than ten houses, no shops and practically nothing to do except enjoy the National Park and the mountains very close to the houses. When I was a child I always played outside. During the winter we made “Eskimo huts” or skis, while during the summer we climbed small rocks, discovered new caves or swam in the stream…

Le Villaret du Nial was a magical place to grow up…until the magic disappeared. In the spring of 2000 we no longer saw the crystal blue water of the lake when we closed the window. Instead we saw a large field of mud. They drained the lake to make some repairs to the dam. The hardest part wasn’t the view, but seeing my neighbor Paul. The moment the water began to recede, he changed. The more the water dwindled, the more upset he became. After a few weeks we started to see the ruins. Paul used to live there. In 1952 a large dam was built and the old town of Tignes was flooded. Like many other residents, Paul tried to resist. He stayed in his house until the last moment and lost a large part of the things he had.

That year I realized what a dam really was. I realized that it was not something supernatural that was holding the water, but the concrete dam. I realized that it was very dangerous to play in the small lake behind the house because now there was a dam with automatic discharges directly above us and the river in which I practiced kayaking was not free-flowing, but was due to the discharges of the dam.

During the Great Depression or during the war, creating dams seemed like a good idea. It seemed logical a few decades ago, but not anymore. Hydropower is not clean energy. Dams – no matter how small – affect the environment. A dam limits sediment transport, changes water temperature, and restricts fish migration. It drastically changes the entire ecosystem and leads to the extinction of endangered species. Hydropower also has high costs. Many dams are built in remote areas and involve cutting down trees, building roads and power lines. And the energy produced by these dams is not valuable enough to destroy a flowing river.

When I was 5 years old, I fell in love with the sport of kayaking. He took me to wonderful places. I feel very lucky that I have the opportunity to paddle in some flowing rivers, but I get upset that I have to see that all the rivers in my country are dammed and there are people who have paddled nothing but an artificial river. Whitewater kayaking has given me a happiness that nothing else in my life has given me, and I hope everyone has the opportunity to experience the power of rushing waters and the energy of a flowing river.

I can only support projects like the Balkan River Tour and I hope there will be many people who will join the tour activities!

The Balkan River Tour is a joint activity of Leeway Collective, EuroNatur, Riverwatch, and WWF, organized within the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign. Without taking into account protected areas, endangered species or local communities, around 2,700 hydroelectric dams are planned to be built between Slovenia and Albania. With this campaign, we want to stop the tsunami of dam building.

Find out more here: and

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *