Gianmaria Coccoluto – Defending Qatar Airways GKA Freestyle-Kite World Champion

Published 30th January 2023 by Andrea Susanne Opielka


Photos at Fuwairit Kite Beach by Svetlana Romantsova

Gianmaria Coccoluto won his first GKA Freestyle-Kite World Championship in emphatic style at the final event of the 2022 season in Taiba, Brazil in November. Coming into the event in second, he was relying on tour leader, Brazilian Manoel Soares, to slip up. When that happened surprisingly early in the event, the Italian still needed to go on and win the event to gain the overall title. He put on one of the most spell binding performances ever seen in kiteboarding competition, stomping the most technically perfect and progressive tricks seen all year

We caught up with him ahead of the first event of 2023, the Visit Qatar Freestyle-Kite World Cup at Fuwairit Kite Beach in Qatar, where he will begin the first defence of his title

Describe your emotions during and after the final event of last season in Brazil. It must have been a rollercoaster of emotions to enter the event with the title out of your hands, to then go on and win with an almost perfect performance throughout. Does it seem a bit unreal when you now think back to it?
It’s almost impossible to describe my emotions after winning the world title. I was under pressure because I knew I could win the event if I could manage to perform at the levels I usually ride at when training in Taiba. It didn’t feel unreal because when the conditions are perfect I always land the tricks that I did in the competition. This is where I learned almost all my tricks during previous winter training trips, so I had a different mind set. I landed my first front blind mobe 5 here in 2018, so to do it during the event and then win the competition is a really cool story.

How was it to return home to Sicily as World Champion?
It was amazing. My mom organised a huge surprise party a few days after I got home with all my friends and family. There were almost 300 people and I was super excited. I wanna say thanks to my mom and family for that!

How do you feel going into the new season? This has been quite a short break between seasons. Has it been long enough for you to make some riding developments?
Well, it’s been short. After Brazil I went home for all December and early January as I always like to take a long break at the end of the year to let my body relax and recover after a full year of kiting. I went to Tarifa for a week just before this event to try and get some training done, but we didn’t find much wind. My last proper good session was actually 40 days ago! I already have some new tricks that I didn’t do in Taiba though, I hope to go for those in Qatar if the conditions help me.

Have you ridden here at Fuwairit Kite Beach before? What are your expectations of the spot and the event itself as the first event of the season?
I came here at the end of last summer and it was really good. Generally the wind will be lighter, so I have my 13 metre and hope to do my best after not kiting very much compared to usual.

What riding developments do you think we will see on tour this year?
The adjusted format with more variety will mean that we’ll see some new stuff coming up soon; for sure from my side at least, but I’ve also seen the other riders are pushing new tricks, too.

What do you think is the most important element in your training, or life, that keeps you focused and hopefully winning?
The most important element for me is my mindset. I work hard on my mind and meditation, I watch a lot of my own videos to help my brain to stay familiar with the movements. When I don’t kite for long time this really helps and can look like it’s been just a few days since I last kited. Training the brain is the most important thing you can do.

Read the interview with women’s reigning Qatar Airways GKA Freestyle-Kite World Champion, Mika Sol, here

The Visit Qatar GKA Freestyle-Kite World Cup runs at Fuwairit Kite Beach from 31 January – 04 February. Follow the event live when it begins here!

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