KSP One Eye Pro : Day 6
Kicking off the last six heats of the 2011 KSP One Eye Pro in Le Morne, Mauritius, Airton Cozzolino (Italy/North) faced Mauricio Pedreira (Brazil) in the first of two strapless semifinals. Early in the matchup, the 17-year-old Cozzolino was called on interference, resulting in his second highest wave score to be slashed in half. Nevertheless, his progressive kite surfing advanced him to the finals by a slim margin of .47 points.
Next up, Jesse Richman (Hawaii) faced 2008 Kite Surfing World Champion Mitu Monteiro (Cabo Verde/F-One) in the side-offshore winds and overhead surf. Displaying a unrivaled degree of flow, diversity and innovative strapless riding, Monteiro’s seemingly effortless style and 19-year background in surfing really shined. While the 19-year-old Richman put up a good fight, Monteiro bagged a near-perfect score of 19.16 — the second highest of the whole competition (next to Cozzolino’s 19.5 in yesterday’s Quarter Finals). Redefining the standard of top shelf kite surfing with his highest scoring wave, Monteiro rode super vertically top to bottom — switching stance mid-ride — while staying in the pocket, smashing the pitching lip, tucking in for a barrel, and linking progressive maneuvers together.
Women’s Finals came next, which commenced with Steph Bridge (United Kingdom/North) facing Kristin Boese (Germany/Best) in a strapless showdown for third place. By a margin of 3.94 points, Bridge won. Then, with a fairytale ending, women’s kite surfing concluded with the unsponsored KSP Wild Card winner Ninja Bichler (Mauritian local, originally from Germany) taking home the 2011 One Eye Pro title as she faced off with Marie Gautron (France). Reaching the 15-wave limit, the 29-year-old Bichler left no set wave unslayed while scoring a 17.16 in her first ever final.
Drawing the elimination ladder to a close, the all-strapless Men’s Finals began with a matchup of two great watermen: Richman verses Pedreia for third place. With a tuck under the lip, good flow and some great top-to-bottom hacks, Pedreia bested Richman by 2.76 points. Richman pulled into numerous tubes of his own but was unable to find a clean exit to find the winning scores.
Then in Heat 36, the very last showdown of the event, Cozzolino rode against an injured Monteiro who hit the water wearing a knee brace after buckling his back knee at the end of Heat 34. Nevertheless, Men’s Finals ended on an exhilarating note — first and second place separated by less than three-quarters of a point. Riding an 8-meter kite, Monteiro demonstrated a wide variety of surf-influenced and innovative moves, lots of switch riding, impeccable wave selection and even a great cover-up.
However, Cozzolino won a majority of the judges over with his performance as he rode top to bottom more vertically, with a super-committed and crisp flow, progressive moves (including an aerial re-entry) and his signature move, squaring up off his bottom turns with an unparalleled amount of control and power when setting up for his radical hacks.