Big crowds, pumping winds and the elite of freestyle throwing down in Leucate during an epic start to WKL 2017!
Image: Svetlana Romantsova
The final day of competition in La Franqui, Leucate, was nothing short of exceptional. The completion of the men’s semi-finals took place first, followed by the men’s small final, the women’s elite final, and the men’s elite final.
The first semi-final of the day was full of anticipation until the very end, with Brazilian rider Set Teixeira landing some high scoring tricks such as a Slim 7 and a well executed Heart Attack to take the top spot. Liam Whaley didn’t land his last trick but still managed to just make his way into second place with a clean Front Blind Mobe and Back Mobe 5. Conditions were tricky and riders often had to change from seven metre to nine metre kites during their heat.
Semi-final number two was full of tension between Aaron Hadlow from the UK and Stefan Spiessberger from Austria. It was extremely close between them both but it finally came down to Spiessberger who landed his Slim 5 scoring just enough points to jump from third into second, securing his spot in the final. Current World Champion Carlos Mario clearly dominated the heat by landing his usual sequence of doubles including a Backside 315, 319 and Slim 7. He showed an extremely high riding level considering the difficult conditions.
The men’s small final was another close battle between Posito Martinez from the Dominican Republic and Aaron Hadlow from the UK. Posito’s final KGB right in front of the judging tower and the crowd scored just enough points to place him in first position, with Hadlow taking second and Alex Pastor from Spain in third.
The ladies final was next in sequence and it was an outstanding display from the very start. These ladies showed how far the bar has been raised in female kiteboarding. It was a tough battle right until the last trick attempt. World Champion Bruna Kajiya from Brazil took the win by landing a big S-Mobe, S-bend to Blind and Back to Blind. She was nothing short of delighted with her win for the first event of the year. Annabel Van Westerop came in second extremely close behind her, making a wonderful start for the year with her focus and impressive riding. Francesca Bagnoli from Italy finished third, an outstanding result for her first Elite League event.
The men’s final took place in the early afternoon, in front of the large crowds that gathered along the beach in La Franqui. It was an unbelievable show right from the very start. All four riders landed huge tricks back to back right in front of the judges and the huge crowds who were cheering on the four finalists. It wasn’t until Carlos Mario’s last trick attempt that first position was decided, and it was Liam Whaley from Spain who took the win by just 0.13 points. He landed massive tricks such as a Slim 7, Heart Attack 5, and a gigantic 317. Carlos Mario crashed his first two trick attempts, but then started landing incredibly high scores to make up for it including the first ever 10 scored on the WKL, which was a perfectly executed Heart Attack 7. Set Teixeira, also from Brazil, and Stefan Spiessberger from Austria rode an amazing heat also landing several doubles, and finally it was Set who took third place with Stefan finishing in fourth. Altogether it was an outstanding final, with the crowds on the beach, the commentators in the studio and the followers watching from home all going wild.
The Big Air Expression Session final was held to finish off the day, with the riders boosting to heights of up to 15 metres. It was a fantastic performance for the crowds, with big aerials, kite loops, and a massive double handle-pass from Luis Alberto Cruz. It was Luiz, from the Dominican Republic, who took the win thanks to more variety and height. In second position it was Joselito del Rosario, also from Dominican Republic, and in third place the young rider Valentin Rodriguez from Columbia who’s just 14 years old!
Male Elite League Results
1: Liam Whaley
2nd: Carlos Mario
3rd: Set Teixeira
4: Stefan Spiessberger
Female Elite League Results
1: Bruna Kajiya
2: Annabel Van Westerop
3: Francesca Bagnoli
4: Annelous Lammerts
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