Nitro City and Punta Chame, Panama, welcome the inaugural stop of the 2014 PKRA World Tour. This first-time event will showcase the best Freestyle kiteboarders as they converge on the extreme sports mecca of Nitro City, Panama, to do battle for the 2014 world title.
The competition location at Nitro City Action Sports Resort offers everything for an amazing event. Apart from the excellent kiteboarding conditions with small chop, warm water, and steady wind, the venue provides a motorcross track, skate park, and cable park to keep even the most ambitious rider busy all day long.
As first stop of the tour season, there is an exceptionally stacked field of athletes. Competitors will be hungry for points toward the world title, but will first need to battle through the qualifying rounds to qualify for the remaining 10 spots in the main event.
Today’s registration drew the regular tour veterans alongside many competitors from South America and beyond. In total, 50 riders represent 18 countries, making the pool of talent deep. Overall, 39 men and 11 women have registered to compete for the $42,000 in prize money.
Present in the men’s division is a large contingency of Brazilian and Dominican riders, who are always pushing their level year after year. Most notably, the young Carlos Mario from Brazil has a lot of pressure following his rookie win at the last tour stop and having secured an international sponsorship deal.
In an unfortunate turn of events, current World Champion Alex Pastor dislocated his shoulder while training this morning and will not be able to compete here to defend his title. Liam Whaley is out this event with a rib injury, and former world champion Youri Zoon is not present either. For the women, Bruna Kajiya returns after suffering a knee injury last season and will almost certainly be battling against the top females to regain her title run.
This absence of many of the top male riders leaves the door open for the coveted top five spots. Tour veterans such as Marc Jacobs, Christophe Tack, Alberto Rondina and Reno Romeu all have a good opportunity to be in contention for the title. However, it won’t be easy with 5x world champion Aaron Hadlow and the incredibly talented crew of Brazilian riders en force.
Conditions for tomorrow look good, with the strongest winds expected in the early morning and late afternoon. The event will begin with the men’s qualifiers with a 6:30am riders meeting and a 7:00am first possible start. At 11:00, the opening ceremony will take place and if conditions allow, the main event will begin in the afternoon.