Day 1 in St Peter Ording, Freestyle Trials
The PKRA riders where very impressed by the conditions in St Peter Ording, Germany today. They hope that it will stay this way the entire week as we enjoyed perfect sunshine and strong winds, with conditions starting from 9-12 knots this morning and improving to 16-18 knots toward the middle of the trials. We had very clear skies to start these nine days of competition ,which will be one of the biggest trials ever done on the PKRA. Fifty six riders competed for the fourteen places left in the ladder of the men’s single elimination, and eight girls out of fourteen made it to the next stage.
We had fourteen men’s heats with four riders competing in each. The rider who came fourth was directly eliminated, the three winners were then mixed up to compete in again in the next heat in which the winner advanced into the main event. In the girl’s competition, there were four initial heats with the two best riders from each one qualifying for the main event.
The Dominican Republic was well represented by Ariel Corniel (Ozone), Robinson Hilario (F-ONE) and Alex Soto (F-ONE). Ariel reckoned that he is now used to the European conditions and didn’t suffer from riding in the cold waters of the North Sea. Alex was more cautious and has been training in St Peter for the past two weeks to get used to the spot.
While talking about the return of Kevin Langeree (NED, Naish), 2009 World Champion after his knee injury, they mentioned that this type of injury is commonplace nowadays in kiteboarding, all the riders are now joking about it: “If you want to be a pro and get into the top 10, you’ve got to injure your knee, train hard to get back and then wear a knee brace for the rest of your career,” reported the current leader of the tour, Youri Zoon (NED, Slingshot) whilst waiting for the single elimination to start. The Dominicans all suffered injuries recently and they agreed that the important thing when you go down for a while is to get back up on the board quickly. A lot of riders on tour are now wearing knee braces to prevent any further troubles.
There were no major surprises in the first 14 heats, all the best riders from the PKRA made it to the next round. Head judge Sami Gali noted the performance of Van De Kop (NED, Flexifoil) who came first in his heat, “he showed some serious talent and proved that he is a rider to look out for in the future.”
Judge Antoine Jaubert also mentioned another rookie: Stefan Spiessberger (AUT, North) who won his first heat today, so we have a few new promising faces to follow in this event.
Entering the main event in the girl’s division are: Schumacher, Rapp, Lutz, Whiteley, Boese, Brill, Jungo and Kennedy. Hannah Whiteley (GBR, Wainman) reported that the conditions were challenging, as the wind dropped when they started competing. The current was strong which made it hard to stay up wind to do all the tricks inside the four buoys, which mark the area to perform for the judges. She felt confident about her heat today and won it, Hannah won the big air, board off last year and hopes to reiterate her performance during this event.
As we entered the second part of the trials the wind seriously dropped but allowed us to finish 5 heats therefore qualifying the five winners: Morales, Whaley, Wesch, Soto and Tack.
Eight riders are prequalified and two wild cards have been given to Kevin Langeree (NED, Naish) and Tim Kummerfeld (GER, Core). Kevin was stoked to enter into the main event, he feels lucky since he reckoned that the trials here were hard, long and hectic. Now he has to prove himself worthy of the spot in his come back to the competition.
When the wind dropped completely, Race Director Olaf Van Tol stopped the competition and the riders went for a walk into the event village. Sebastien Garat (FRA, RRD) was happy to be in Germany because he considers this to be the biggest event of the year. “It’s nice because everyone can come and discover kiteboarding in the tents, every brand is represented so you can see all the new equipment, you can meet all the riders and there are cool activities within the village. It’s a very entertaining and well rounded event.”
Tomorrow morning the conditions are predicted to be lighter and we should see the fleet of Course Racers on the water. If the wind is strong enough we will finish the trials.