We’re continuing our behind-the-scenes athlete-life series with an interview with European powerhouses Jalou Langaree and Johanna-Catharina Edin!
In the midst of lockdown, 2020 found Jalou and Cat bunking up together in Holland for some cold water training. Read on for what their COVID winter looked like and what the biggest takeaways from a tough year were. As we continue to navigate uncertain times, connecting with our community of athletes and riders gives us the inspiration to keep pushing and hope that, soon enough, we will return to competition!
What sparked the move to Holland?
JCE: Noordwijk is very similar to my hometown, Varberg in Sweden in many ways and also quite similar conditions so there was for sure other reasons than kiting that triggered my move to Holland. One of the main reasons is for sure, my friendship with Jalou and other like-minded people within the kiteboarding industry.
How has living together been?
JL: Cat moved in about 6 months ago. It was still summer at home and we were out all day. Covid did not have a huge impact yet. We were living the life! We had a super good summer good wind, lots of wine and laughter. Until autumn and winter came that’s when things got a little rougher. It got colder, shops and restaurants closed. Everyone had to work from home so the house was packed. Puck also lives with us. She works at our local surf club. Puck and I moved in together first and then Cat joined. That’s how she ended up having the baby room haha. Which she managed to turn into a very cozy bedroom. It’s awesome having Cat in Holland, we’ve been each other’s therapist while both going through breakups and other heavy stuff. It’s been a blast to have a friend close by within the same industry.
JCE: Agree with everything above. And the “baby room” ain’t that bad, I fit my bed and have a big walk-in-closet for all my clothes which also is a big hobby of mine 😉
What’s a day-in-the-life like?
JL: As winter was coming. We needed some activities for the no-wind days. We started training with a friend of mine who’s a personal trainer. We stick to training 3 times a week. After training we both usually did some work behind the computer. I tried to be in the ocean as much as I could. I totally ignored the horrible weather, -2 degrees celsius wasn’t a problem anymore. Just a quick hour session really enlightened my day. Learning to Wing was a good motivation to get out on the water. Learning new sports is something I really like!
JCE: It’s been for sure strange in many ways to move to a new country that has been in lockdown the whole time. But for personal reasons, it’s been really good to be able to reconnect with myself without too many distractions around. The days have been basic compared to what were used to from the past of nonstop traveling.
I really have loved it though, it’s been easy to keep a good routine with a variety of sports outdoors, workouts, computer work and cooking food at home.
The highlights have been the Piet Hein “Fika” (What we call coffee and cake in Swedish).
How is training in cold water?
JL: It’s definitely a lot more tiring than in summer. The Mystic waterwear is so solid these days that nasty, cold weather isn’t an excuse for not going out. I would have never thought to become so comfortable and ok with the amount of neoprene I was wearing to stay warm throughout my sessions. The thing is as soon as temperatures drop you should not stop going out. I’m happy to have experienced some cold weather kiting, wing and prone surfing. Winter sessions can be magical.
JCE: The few degrees difference of “warmer” temperature we have in Holland compared to Sweden has for sure made it easier to get into the water without freezing my ass off (completely). It’s made it manageable to have longer sessions than what I’m used to from back home in Sweden.
What is your training regimen like?
JL: I don’t have a certain regime. I like being active and my body tells me when it’s time to move. I get restless and grumpy if I have not been active. Being active makes me way more productive and happier. I did suffer from some lower back issues in the past. Which still occurs when I give too much and don’t recover enough after training, so stretching and yoga is something I try to maintain on a daily basis.
Motto that you live by?
JL: I didn’t change, I just grew up. I learned what’s best for me. If I have to lose people to get where I need to be, then I’m okay with that.
We live one life and we better spend our time wisely in a way that it gives us happiness.
JCE: To sail my own boat and whoever and whatever crosses my path is meant to be so.
How has this past year been without being able to travel?
JL: Mind blowing and so needed. It felt like an emergency hand brake. It gave me so much time to reflect and breathe. Looking back at being active in the sport for 18 years in a row, there was never a break from kiting. I felt lost and in search of a bigger meaning in life. Breaking free in making my own decisions and creating my own happiness, instead of living up to expectations. I can blossom again. I follow my intuition to find where I need to be.
I got to escape the Netherlands mid-February. The beaches reopened and KLM offered direct flights to Cape Town again. That was the turning point, I packed my bags and decided to stay in South Africa for a month. Cat joined me and it was the best decision ever. I really felt like I was being recharged. There were barely any people which meant empty line-ups. It was unique to see Cape Town in that way. Usually, it’s quite intense as everywhere you go it’s packed. None of that this time. I could easily get used to that 🙂
JCE: Like Jalou said, mind-blowing and pulling off an emergency hand brake.
Looking back to a year ago now feels like my whole life was about to fall apart and I was scary close to a complete burnout after nonstop traveling, injuries, lack of recovery and dealing with anxiety & depression.
A year has now passed and it has been the most important year of my life so far.
This year has given me room to find true myself again, grown, and happiness and love again.
Being back here in Cape Town was scary at first for both of us but after now after a few weeks, I feel confident to say that I’ve found the right tools to keep myself on track with my balance with what I’m doing.
The biggest takeaway from COVID?
Photos: Ydwer van der Heide, Jason Broderick, Miriam Joanna