Final Day at the El Gouna RRD Centre Kiteboarding World Cup
The final day at the El Gouna RRD Centre Kiteboarding World Cup was nothing short of spectacular. With 7 heats back to back throughout the day, we saw perfect 10’s, boundaries being pushed, tears, unfortunate injuries, and history being made for freestyle kiteboarding, as our champions for this 4th Elite League event were crowned in front of the fans on the beach of El Gouna.
The day commenced with the completion of the Semi-finals for the Women. Heat 7 saw the ladies struggling slightly being the first on the water, dealing with gustier wind and choppy waters. Local wildcard Nathalie Lambrecht tried her best, but could not land the tricks she really wanted to perform. Therese Taabbel, Danish Champion, fought her hardest to advance to the final, but unfortunately it was not to be. Francesca Bagnoli from Italy managed to perform an amazing Slim Chance on her last trick attempt, and this secured her 2nd place, and opened the door to the finals. She was delighted at this results, making this her second Elite League final this season. Annabel van Westerop remained calm and composed throughout the heat, and finished 1st, delighted to once again be in the Elite League finals.
Heat 2 saw our current World Champion Bruna Kajiya really prove her worth, as she rode solidly and with great confidence. Paula Novotna, the Czech charger, performed brilliantly and gave the World Champion a good run for her money. Both athletes went for huge Heart Attacks, scoring 9.4 for Novotna and 9.63 for Kajiya. As Novotna was determined to finish the heat in the highest position possible, she went for an impressive KGB as her final trick, and she advanced to the final, just behind Kajiya. Maureen Castelle performed well in the tricky conditions, along with Pauline Valesa, but neither of them could catch up to their fellow competitors.
Heat 13 was unique, as it contained 2 former and one current World Champion, making it possibly the toughest heat of the event! Carlos Mario, Liam Whaley, Alex Pastor and Set Teixeira put on an unbelievable performance, as the athletes each fought to secure themselves a spot in the final. Carlos Mario opened the heat with a Heart Attack 7 as his first trick attempt, setting the standard high right from the start. He maintained his dominance throughout despite crashing his 2nd attempt in a rare mistake from the kiteboarding superstar. Mario continued landing tricks that scored within the 9’s, casually and with ease. Meanwhile, there was a big battle for second place, where Alex Pastor tried his hardest, however it just was not enough, placing him in 4th position. Set Teixeira from Brazil also tried to remain focused to get to the final, but he would have to settle with 3rd position and a place in the Small Final. Liam Whaley was determined, and performed a nice Backside 317 and KGB5, managing to beat his opponents and would advance to the final alongside Carlos Mario here in El Gouna.
Heat 14 was a Dominican affair, with three of the competitors originating from the Dominican Republic. Adeuri Corniel rode outstandingly well, with Luis Alberto Cruz hot on his heels throughout. Both riders advanced to the finals, leaving Posito Martinez and Alex Neto behind to compete in the Small Final.
Men’s Small Final
Alex Pastor, former World Champion from Spain, went all in for the Small Final, wanting to make the best of a bad situation. He had a strong start landing 3 solid tricks back to back, which allowed him to maintain a good lead from the start. Set Teixeira was determined to follow close behind, and finish in 2nd, followed by Alex Neto and Posito Martinez. All 4 riders remained close in points for the duration of the heat, and final standings really came down to the final trick attempts.
The bar has certainly been raised for Women’s kiteboarding as our 4 finalists proved during this event. The riding level was astonishing, as Bruna Kajiya, Current World Champion, stormed into her heat with a Backside 313 followed by an incredible Heart Attack. Paula Novotna from the Czech republic was eager to repeat her strong performance from her previous heat, and performed a Heart Attack of her own, also scoring points up in the 9’s. Italian Francesca Bagnoli who is new to the Elite League, having qualified at the first event of the year in Leaucate, has certainly proven her talent and dedication, as she overtook Annabel Van Westerop from the Netherlands with an incredible KGB for her last trick attempt. She finished in 2nd place just 1.05 points behind the World Champion. Paula Novotna unfortunately seemed unable to maintain her focus during the heat, and missed out on a podium finish. Annabel Van Westerop gave it her all, and with her solid 4 tricks that she started her heat with, she secured 3rd place, making it her 3rd podium finish of the season. The level of kiteboarding amongst the female athletes was nothing short of exceptional during this women’s final, which was won by non other than Bruna Kajiya!
Final results for the Women:
1 – Bruna Kajiya
2 – Francesca Bagnoli
3 – Annabel Van Westerop
4 – Paula Novotna
Carlos Mario made history during the Men’s final, with the most outstanding heat ever seen in WKL history. The Brazilian current World Champion landed 5 tricks scoring above 9, and two perfect 10’s. The spectators, fans and fellow athletes could only watch on in astonishment. His performance has catapulted competitive kiteboarding into a whole new level, and his fellow competitors face a stern challenge to try and keep up with him. Luis Alberto Cruz rode phenomenally well, and was sitting in 2nd place, when he had an unfortunate crash on his 5th trick attempt. He had to withdraw from the heat, and was taken to hospital to be treated for a suspected broken rib. He is now recovering well. Despite not being present for the remainder of the heat, his solid scores meant that he still managed to finish with a 3rd place podium finish, a bit of compensation for having given it his all and having to suffer the painful consequences. Adeuri Corniel from the Dominican Republic crashed his first trick attempt, but then gained his momentum and consistently landed every other trick attempt with favourable scores, and was rewarded with 2nd place, the best result yet for this young and talented athlete. Liam Whaley entered this final with the focus on winning the event, as he had done previously in Leucate. He knew that it was all or nothing, he had to go big and take some risks in order to stand a chance at winning the heat, but unfortunately 4 crashes cost him dearly, and he was unable to climb his way back up. He finishes the event in 4th position. Carlos Mario wins the Elite League event here in El Gouna!
Final results for the Men:
1st – Carlos Mario
2nd – Adeuri Corniel
3rd – Luis Alberto Cruz
4th – Liam Whaley