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).