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GKA Freestyle World Cup Colombia Full Highlight Video And Event Report

Published 15th March 2022 by Jim Gaunt

 

THE SOUTH AMERICAN SURGE
– COLOMBIANS PERFORM PROUDLY AT HOME BUT THE BRAZILIANS STEAL THE SHOW


MANOEL SOARES AND MIKAILI SOL WIN THE GKA FREESTYLE WORLD CUP COLOMBIA
2nd – 6th March 2022

 

Report by: Sensi Graves & Jim Gaunt 
Photos by: Lukas K Stiller
Video by: Leleucreations 

GKA Kite World Cup Colombia 2022

Salinas del Rey on the northern coast of Colombia made its debut as a stop on the GKA Kite World Tour, playing host as the first Freestyle event of the 2022 season. 

This new location really delivered and will surely grow as a potential kite-trip destination over the coming years. The winds built throughout each day and a relentless consistency of inshore kickers were attacked at full speed by the world class riders; all hungry to make a positive start to their 2022 World Championship campaign. 

 

In total 22 men and six women, representing ten countries competed at round one, including of course 2021 defending champions, Arthur Guillebert who claimed his first men’s title last year, while Mikaili Sol made it four back-to-back crowns on the trot in 2021. 

However, from the start of this event it was clear that there was a certain positivity in the air for the South American riders, particularly the Colombians for whom this was the first chance to perform at elite level in front of a home crowd. The local government came out in full support of both the local and visiting riders alike, alongside many national press representatives and residents who flooded the event site throughout the week.  

Colombian rider and rising star, Juan Rodriquez, was especially excited for Salinas del Rey to host the first event of the season, 

“It’s been my dream to have a stop in Colombia. I’m stoked.” 

Spaniard Claudia Leon summed up the vibe for all visiting riders, 

“I’m really excited to visit new locations and also to get to once again compete in a full tour with lots of events after the pandemic.” 

ROUTE TO THE FINALS

Judging Criteria: 7 attempts, 4 tricks count
Format:  Pure Freestyle

WOMEN

While the women’s fleet was smaller than usual, the calibre of the six women present was incredible. These are clearly the women with ambitions for championship success in this very important first full season back after the splintered schedule in the last two years.

Spaniard Rita Arnaus (2021 Vice World Champion) and Brazilian Bruna Kajiya (3x World Champion) would eventually make it to the finals, but met in round one where Rita took the heat win in the last second by laying down a powered and ultra committed S-mobe under pressure as the last trick of the heat. She progressed straight through to the final.

On the other side of the ladder, among a barrage of high scoring tricks, Mikaili’s massive slim chance 5 (one of three tricks that scored over 8 points) saw off fellow Brazilian Estafania Rosa into second and Spain’s Claudia Leon into third. 

In the semis it was Rosa and Kajiya who upped their game against Leon and Cavallo to make it to the finals. 

WOMEN’S FINAL

Mikaili Sol (BRA)
Rita Arnaus (ESP)
Bruna Kajiya (BRA)
Estefania Rosa (BRA) 

The final was a close heat throughout. While Mikail is capable of dropping huge trick scores that could demoralise her opposition, Bruna’s consistent landings, which included a solid S-mobe and text book back mobe, saw her leading the final halfway through the heat. She was followed by Rita Arnaus whose super clean Slim Chance on trick three nudged her ahead of the 4x World Champion, Sol, who crashed. 

Unfortunately Rosa couldn’t match the top three women on tour and soon Rita began to slip too, crashing her fourth and final (seventh) trick attempt. 

It came down to the two Brazilians to fight it out with veteran Kajiya still leading with two tricks to go. She maintained an impressive focus throughout, without a single crash in her heat come the end, but Mikaili was awarded 7.20 for a backside 313 on her sixth trick, which was enough to put her ahead. 

Once again Mikaili Sol managed to land her go-tricks and set herself apart from the rest of the field with her huge air, technicality and style to secure the event win, breaking through the 30 point heat score in both her heats. 

WOMEN’S FINAL RESULTS:

1 Mikaili Sol (BRA) 31.76
2 Bruna Kajiya (BRA) 28.93
3 Rita Arnaus (SPN) 24.97
4 Estefania Rosa (BRA) 19.67

MEN:

It was obvious how much these competitors have missed the grit of competition. Among the early standouts Dominican rider, Luis Alberto Cruz, threw his customary huge tricks off the kickers, but it was his fellow countrymen and 2019 Vice World Champion, Adeuri Corniel, who ended up winning that particular battle in round three with a cleaner and more consistent style.

The 2019 World Champion, Colombian Valentin Rodriguez, was another rider with high hopes of impressing on home ground, but he lost a crucial battle by less than two points to fellow Colombian, Juan Rodriguez, who handled the pressure with solid riding and perfect kite control. 

Gianmaria Coccoluto was, however, probably the most impressive performer early on. The Italian has become a freestyle clip sensation over the last two years; his ultra clinical tricks are always fully loaded with power and unbelievable amplitude. ‘Cocco’ looked to be translating those skills into competition as if he was freeriding.

Looking super fluid, his slim 7 was the pick of the early heats, earning him an 8.17, contributing to the highest heat score of round three, 32.07. (A heat that also saw eventual event winner, Manoel Soares, finish behind Coccoluto, with 28.69 points).

Two other riders coming in to this event with a lot of expectation on their shoulders were the Swiss Maxime Chabloz and, of course, defending World Champion, Arthur Guillebert from France. 

Guillebert never fully got into his stride, which is understandable as this is the first event he’s appeared at as defending World Champion. He was ousted in the quarter finals by Valentin Rodriguez and Gianmaria Coccoluto, who each scored 9+ points for massive 319s. 

Maxime has proven to be one of freestyle’s leading contenders for the last four seasons, but poor results in the closing stages of longer season battles have seen him drop to fourth overall in the standings in 2018, 2019 and then 5th in 2021. All his competitors know, however, that when he pulls a composed heat together, he is a rider who could totally clean up. 

His seatbealt mobe 5 was a standout moment of the whole competition in terms of amplitude, power and raised the style stakes as high as we’d see in Colombia. 

Sadly for Maxime he’d finish third to Soares and Coccoluto in the first semi-final. In the second semi-final local shredder Juan Rodriguez made a dream to come true, progressing to reach the final alongside Carlos Mario, who is a true inspiration to most of these young riders as four-time World Champion.  

MEN’S FINAL

Gianmaria Coccoluto (ITA)
Carlos Mario (BRA)
Manoel Soares (BRA)
Juan Rodriguez (COL) 

Gianmaria Coccoluto came out of the blocks first riding with huge confidence, stomping a slim chance 7 to score 9.20; the highest trick score of the heat. (Coco also claimed the highest trick score of the event: 9.3 for his 319 in the quarters).

Unfortunately, the pressure eventually told and the Italian ended up crashing four times in the final, so only had three tricks to count in his final tally. He finished fourth, despite putting on a killer performance throughout the event. 

Colombian Juan Rodriguez was feeding off the crowd and laid down an incredible heat that demonstrated fluid riding, mixing power and style to claim third.

Carlos Mario is back in top form and hungry for another title. He rode without fear and an absolutely massive backside 317 scored a crucial 7.9 on his last trick to secure the runner-up spot. 

However, it was Manoel Soares who rode a cool workman-like final, scoring four tricks all in the 7s to ensure he claimed his first event win! 

The judges commented on his smooth, clean landings and incredible kite control as he sent it to the moon, landing powerful tricks, ending with a total heat score of 30.14, including a 319, slim 7, heart attack 5 and backside 317.

Hailing from Cumbuco, having honed his skills in the shadow of multiple World Champion, Carlos Mario, Brazilian Manoel Soares is peaking just at the right time. He eventually took the win here in Colombia off the back of reaching the final at his home spot at the end of last season. 

MEN’S FINAL RESULTS:

1 Manoel Soares (BRA) 30.14
2 Carlos Mario (BRA) 29.77
3 Juan Rodriguez (COL) 29.07
4 Gianmaria Coccoluto (ITA) 26.51

SPECIAL HIGHLIGHT:

ENTER THE NEXT GEN! 

It’s exciting to watch the next generation of riders make their way onto the competition stage and at just 11 and 12 years old, Brazilian Pierfrancesco Rizzelo and German Finn Flugel showed up performances that were full of heart and surprising amounts of power.  

There could not be a more magical atmosphere to start off the 2022 season than Salinas del Rey, Colombia! We cannot wait to be back here again next year. Stay tuned for next event updates! 

Click here to see the full 2022 GKA Kite World Calendar!

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