Trials Commence & Suspense Builds
On day three, the Noumea region experienced a distinct weather transition, allowing the trials to commence and the action to begin. While this only lasted for a brief period, it looks to be the start of good things to come, with strong wind expected soon.
While the day began as what seemed to be another lay day, the breeze picked up around 2pm, at which time, riders started to prepare for the first trial heats of the REEF Kitesurf Pro. Beginning officially at 3:45, competitors put up their 10-15meter kites and entered the water.
The wind made an appearance; however, only long enough to carry out the first four trial heats. Seasoned PKRA competitors such as Ewan Jaspan (AUS), Victor Hays (FRA), Michael Schitzhoffer (AUT), and Mario Rodwald (GER), advanced with ease into the main event with first place finishes, while local riders, Michael Dinclaux, Terai Orava, Quentin Valesa, and Sebastian Nguyen advanced as well. Now, two heats left in the first round will leave six riders to fight for the remaining 3 spots open for the main event.
With the forecast now improving, the focus is clearly shifting to the 2012 world titles, and at this high level of competition, it remains incredibly difficult to say just who will have the advantage.
The contenders for the men’s title will need to leverage the strengths of their individual riding styles to impress the judges in order to score higher. Alex Pastor (ESP) will need to execute his best tricks, combining power and variety with grabs – exemplifying the textbook execution that he is known for. Youri Zoon (NED), on the other hand, will need to leverage his big, aggressive riding style and raw power to put himself ahead of his competitors.
The women’s contenders are no different, as Bruna Kajiya’s (BRA) strong execution of technical tricks will need to differentiate her from her competitor Gisela Pulido (ESP), who’s consistent repertoire of tricks will need to be executed superior to those of her competitors. Karolina Winkowska (POL) too, will need to maintain her consistency that she demonstrated in the last two events by landing her solid variety of powered wakestyle moves, if she wants to earn top placement.
Each rider has his/her own unique riding style, and in the top 5, this couldn’t be more evident than in the battle for 3rd place between Alberto Rondina (ITA) and Kevin Langeree (NED). Alberto’s style showcases his polished versatility with many switch tricks and toe-side moves such as his Moby Dick 5. Kevin’s go big style and trademark one-handed tricks are what really set him apart from his competitors. PKRA judging criteria is the same for everyone and is decided by the riders throughout each tour season. It is ultimately up to the rider’s execution and interpretation of the tricks to set them apart in the eyes of the judges.
As in any event, the conditions may favor certain competitors. The perfect flat-water conditions present at the event site will give those riders who have been training during the mid-season break in flat-water spots a definite advantage. Also, with the somewhat unpredictable wind forecast, it is basically a guessing game as to who will be better suited or accustomed to the wind conditions in the heat – thus kite size will remain an important factor.
When asked about strategy, Bruna revealed, “I think that you have to go into a competition believing that you are going to win, it is the right mindset. My way all the way to the semi finals is pretty mellow, but once I get to the semi-finals with Karolina and then Gisela, I just have to go, no holding back, and just go for it”.
As is apparent, this final competition is just as much about physical abilities and talent as it is a mental game of preparation and confidence. With the ultimate prize on the line – the World Championship title, there is no telling what surprises the next days will bring. The biggest event of the year is now on deck, and it’s anyone’s game.