JANUARY 2016 ~ WINTER IS SUMMER IN NEW ZEALAND! by Mike Toughill, coverphoto by Steven Johanson

Happy New Year, Dirtbags! 2016 is NOW, and with it comes our latest January cover photo here at DBP MAGAZINE ONLINE. 
I got to thinking about what image would portray January properly… Icy, snowy shots of whitewater extremists started springing to mind. Then it hit me: Wait a minute! Even though it’s full on winter here in the States, we at Dirt Bag Paddlers are a worldwide community, taking pride in the “One Love One River” and “Global View with a Local Feel” philosophies. So I went in search of an appropriately epic shot from the Southern Hemisphere to really cement the idea that there’s ALWAYS something running in the DBWorld. After all, it’s Summer there, and that means game on! 
I hit up my good friend Ollie El-Gamel, a long-time DBP Admin and co-creator of Honey Badger Media House, who currently spends most of the year paddling and attending university in Canada, but returns for the holidays to his home in New Zealand. “Can you point me in a good direction?” I asked, and he directed me to local NZ photographer Steven Johanson. Steven graciously accepted the assignment, and promptly provided our January cover photo, along with this back story. 
Photographer: Steven Johanson, 23, from Central North Island, New Zealand. I’ve been paddling for about 5 years now and got into photography at the start of 2015. It goes pretty well with kayaking, and in a world of GoPros, it gives a different perspective to the rivers we paddle. The photo is taken on Mother’s Nightmare rapid on the Wairoa River in NZ. This rapid is a fast moderate gradient read and run rapid with a nice 1.5-2 meter boof at the end.” The perfect shot to get us thinking warm summer boating, and to kick off the New Year with! Check out Steven’s other work as well! 
We’ve got some great stories on deck for the month, and some great awards to bestow! We’ve assembled a panel of experts headed by last year’s Dirt Bag of the Year, Aaron Erdrich, to select the top athletes in each major paddling discipline. The results are being tabulated as this goes to press; watch for the announcements soon. And for the Common Man, we are stoked to announce our LATEST CONTEST, the creation of the 2016 ALL-WALLACE TEAM. That’s right, compile your stats, photos, and footy, or nominate your buddy, and get posting to the Dirt Bag Paddlers Facebook page! We will be highlighting the nominees on our Instagram feed @DBP_4_LIFE, and running a popular vote later this month to select the 5 members of this year’s Team. We’ve got a BIG bag of goodies from our friends at Cascade Outfitters to award to the winners, so stay tuned for more details as the nominees start coming in… And Good Luck to all you Dirtbags! 
Cascade Outfitters: a great place to get all your dirtbaggin goods to hit the river with in 2016
HAPPY HEALTHY NEW YEAR TO ALL! Cheers!! 
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