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Finals clashes stalled as wind falters in France

Published 19th August 2023 by Ian MacKinnon

 

Men locked in epic duels after deciding heat is halted following big opening moves that promised a thriller

GKA Freestyle Kite World Cup Dunkerque, France 2023
Place du Centenaire, 16—20 August

The finals’ showdown at the GKA Freestyle Kite World Cup France, in Dunkerque, is finely balanced after the four men threw down massive opening tricks that promised a thriller. The heat was suspended mid-way through when the teasing breezes dropped out.

With one day of competition left, it is possible that the competition can be completed and achieve a result. But the wind forecast for the final fifth day of the world cup is not promising, with the effect the four athletes might have to share equal first places.

The penultimate fourth day of the contest on the North Sea at Dunkerque dawned with only the men’s semi-finals and final to be completed. The women’s winner, Brazil’s Bruna Kajiya, had been crowned on day two of the competition.

For the men, the wind had remained light and uncontestable on day three. But day four offered a 14 to 15 knots south-westerly, cross-offshore breeze allowing the semi-finals action to kicked off.

The first semi-final was a mouthwatering match-up that featured current world champion, Gianmaria Coccoluto (ITA), former champion Arthur Guillebert (FRA), Karim Mahmoud (EGY) and 14-year-old Finn Flügel (GER).

Put down marker

Guillebert immediately put down a marker with a big 7.07 out of a possible 10 for Backside 317, and then went better with a Heart Attack 5 that earned 7.43 from the judges. That took his total to 26.50 out of 40, securing the win and a berth in the final.

Coccoluto opened slightly slowly, but then threw down a huge Backside 317 for 8.20. The Italian could not quite put it all together, yet his heat total of 23.74 got him the second spot and into the final.

The remarkable teenager, Flügel, in his second consecutive world cup final, did enough to take the third place in the high-powered semi-final, overhauling Mahmoud, who never quite found his grove in the up-and-down conditions.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” said Flügel, ahead of his heat. “The looks pretty nice and the water looks flat today, though it’s a bit offshore. I’m excited to be in the semis again. I made it in Colombia. Just super-happy to be consistent with my performance.”

The second semi-final proved more difficult as the wind teased the athletes. But four-times world champion and freestyle discipline tour leader, Carlos Mario (BRA), made it look easy.

Mario opened with a 7.90 for a Backside 315 and then continued to tick of all the trick families for his four counting moves with stylish, powered riding that defied the awkward breezes. His Combos hit the variation notes that the judges demand, giving him the win with a heat total of 27.37.

Curtain came down

Multi-talented Maxime Chaloz (SUI), who placed second at the last two freestyle events, opened quietly by his standards. But the 6.70 for a Front Blind Mobe and 6.00 for Backside 317 were enough to land a place in the final. By contrast Valentin Garat (FRA) struggled in the fickle breezes and his run stopped with the semi-final.

The final was a long time coming. Numerous attempts to get the decider underway were abandoned when the wind refused to play ball. It was only in the early evening that it was possible to get the action started.

With the current and two former world champions in the mix, it promised to be a banger, even in the difficult conditions. But of the four it was Chabloz, who has yet to take a win, who opened his account with a massive Heart Attack 7 for 8.20.

Guillebert, in front of his home fans, then went to town with a pair of 7.77 scores for a Backside 317 and a Heart Attack 5. Not to be outdone, Mario landed twin 7.03 scores of his own, one for a Backside 317 and a KGB-Backside 315 Combo.

But when the curtain came as the wind faltered, it was reigning world champion Coccoluto who was in the driving seat. He stomped an 8.27 for a KGB5 with his trademark fluency and then laid down an 8.17 for a Backside 313 to Wrapped.

With nearly four tricks each on the board from the scheduled eight, the final is perfectly poised. Join us for the final day’s action here.

words: Ian MacKinnon
images: Samuel Cárdenas

Event Information

  • Event: GKA Freestyle Kite World Cup France
  • Spot: Place du Centenaire, Dunkerque
  • Dates: 16—20 August, 2023
  • Download the event Race Notice here
  • Follow the whole event here

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Liveticker will be updated throughout the day. Event highlight video will be published next morning. Written reports will be posted to the website at the end of the competition day

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