As exciting as the new PKRA World Tour 2009 Tour Stop, New Caledonia is proving to be the highlight of the 2009 Season. With the top three PKRA riders battling it out for this year’s world championship title, the South Pacific proving grounds heats up with excitement. Two of the top three made it to the final rounds, with Aaron Hadlow (Flexifoil, UK) dropping to 5th place in the Freestyle Singles.
The most exciting opening day of this year’s World Tour started off under a moderate temperature, peaking at 23 degrees Celsius. The 18-knot average wind speed provided the fuel, kicking-off the day’s event to the excitement of the massive crowd on the beach.
The mandatory riders meeting started at 9:00 am at the beach with a lot of local riders making up the 46 professional athletes that registered for the event. The first round saw most of the local riders taking on each other for a chance at going into the second round against the top seeded players.
Heat #3b was won by local kiteboarding hearo Tom Hebert defeating fellow New Caledonian Kevin Vassilev (Takoon) with more variety and power. Mario Rodwald (North, GER) also made it into the second round with a solid win over another local rider Benjamin Rancher (Airush) in Heat #5b despite injuring his ankle.
New Zealand rider Torrin Bright (Ozone) was knocked out in Heat #8b by countryman Marc Jacobs (Airush). Jacobs outperformed Bright with more power moves.
Andy Yates (Slingshot, AUS) opened up the second round with a fairly clinical display against another New Caledonian Michael Dmclaux (Takoon), eliminating another local bet. In the same heat, world title contender Youri Zoon (Slingshot, NED) moves into the third round without a hitch against Sebastien Tacheav (Takoon, NewCal) as does Kevin Langeree (Naish, NED) in Heat #10b against local rider Sebastien Nguyen.
Hebert kept the local dream of capturing the New Cal title by winning Heat #10a against Tour veteran Cesar Portas (North, ESP) with a strong performance on his home turf. In the following heat, Alex Pastor (Naish, ESP) performed extremely well, landing super-powered moves plus a lot of switch, taking out Mario Rodwald (North, GER).
Up in the 12th heat, Italian stallion Alberto Rondina (Cabrinha, ITA) put up a good show, defeating French rider Sebastien Garat (RRD) with a lot of switch variation and technical moves for a 3-0 unanimous decision.
As the heats drew closer and closer to the finals, the excitement grew bigger and bigger as current World Title holder Aaron Hadlow (Flexifoil, GBR) defeated Jacobs in Heat #12b. Zoon inched his way one step closer to the finals with a win over Yates and was the first title hopeful to enter the semi-finals. Langeree also cemented his bid for the top slot by knocking out local bet Hebert in heat #13b, thereby getting a chance to go against title rival Zoon for the finals and an advantage in the Doubles Elimination round.
On what was to become the upset of the year, Rondina knocked out Hadlow in Heat #14b with a 2-1 decision. Textbook smooth switch riding with a lot of variation and decent power was enough to beat Hadlow’s own switch and technical repertoire.
The most exciting heat of the day came in Heat 15a – the money heat, between Zoon and Langeree. The Dutch rider took the big win, taking the distinct advantage in the Doubles with less heats to ride. However, in the history of the PKRA, there have been several riders who came back from the depths of the ranking through a double, but with Zoon and Langeree out on a mission to de-throne Hadlow, it’ll prove to be a tough job to accomplish. The second semi-final event belonged to Pastor, defeating Rondina with a lot of powerful moves.
In an unprecedented turn of event, Pastor emerged on top of the podium, defeating Langeree in the final heat, albeit the judges were not surprised at all. Langeree missed the ultimate chance to solidify his title chances but nevertheless had the advantage among the three title contenders. His 313, double back mobe, mobe to wrapped, regular and switch back to blind air pass, blind judge with aerial handle pass, kgb, front mobe, double s-bend to blind, blind judge 5 and s-bend proved futile against what Pastor unleashed in the game. Zoon however, made up for his defeat against Langere by landing 3rd overall in the Singles.
In the women’s heat, Karolina Winkowska (Naish, POL) automatically took the 3rd spot after Asia Litwin (Nobile, POL) dropped out of the game because of an injury. Bruna Kajiya (Flexifoil, BRA) solidified her top title bid, overpowering Gisela Pulido (Airush, ESP) in the final heat. Pulido settled for 2nd place but is bent on winning in the Doubles Elimination.
Singles Freestyle Result:
1. Alex Pastor (Naish, ESP)
2. Kevin Langeree (Naish, NED)
3. Youri Zoon (Slingshot, NED)
1. Bruna Kajiya (Flexifoil, BRA)
2. Gisela Pulido (Airush, ESP)
3. Karolina Winkowska (Naish, POL)
The Single Elimination finished around 4:00 pm. There was a short 30-minute break for the awarding ceremony on the beach before PKRA event director Olaf Van Tol proceeded to start the women’s double elimination rounds. The day wrapped up at 5:30 pm. Tomorrow’s schedule will have the long distance race first thing in the morning, where the athletes will compete in a 20-km race on a downwind reach to the event site.
The Freestyle riders meeting will commence at exactly 12:30 pm local time.