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Mika Hits Six While Coccoluto Completes His Destiny – Finals Day Taiba

Published 11th November 2022 by Jim Gaunt

 

The 2022 Qatar Airways GKA Freestyle-Kite World Championships are over – and the winner is kiteboarding!

Scroll down for history in the making… 

Taiba, Taiba, Taiba – how can we ever look at freestyle events the same again? Finals day at the Copa Kitley GKA Freestyle-Kite World Cup Brazil didn’t let us down on the promise built up all week.

Making their way through the women’s semi finals at midday on day three were, Nathalie Lambrecht, Bruna Kajiya, Rita Arnaus and Mikaili Sol. Sadly for Spain, title contender Claudia Leon bowed out of the title race in semi-final 2, having finished just behind Lambrecht, who took the second qualifying spot in that heat behind Mika.

On the men’s side, championship chaser Juan Rodriguez saw his performance slip in the semis and 14 year old local hotshot Davi Ribeiro narrowly missed a famous spot in the final, too. Still not missing a beat though, Gianmaria Coccoluto blasted his way to the final with a semi-final heat that included another ten point score for perhaps what just might have been the best backmobe 7 ever. He was truly still in the zone… and on another planet.

Standing in the way of the event win that would earn the Italian his first world title would be Carlos Mario, Erick Anderson and Maxime Chabloz in the final.

WOMEN’S FINAL

Although on paper there were threats to her crown ahead of this event, finishing no lower than third here in Brazil would be enough for Mikaili Sol to claim her sixth world title after winning in Colombia and finishing second to Claudia Leon in Saudia Arabia earlier this season.

Competing just 15 minutes from home, the Brazilian proved unshakable on that quest, going higher, harder and with more physical potency than any other female kiteboarder once again.

Already far enough ahead to relax, her grabbed stalefish slim 5 on trick six had all of Mika’s most unique traits about it – full entry and exit power, technical brilliance and style. Her fourth pure freestyle world title sits alongside two big air world titles (and four Junior world titles), to prove that she is the most complete female kiteboarder in the world right now, and still only 18.

Bruna Kajiya won the race for runner-up position with a gutsy back mobe to jump in front of Miss Consistency, Rita Arnaus, on the last trick. These two have enjoyed a ding-dong battle all season, but it’s the Brazilian 3x World Champion who steals the vice World Championship title from Rita who had it in 2021.

COPA KITLEY GKA-FREESTYLE KITE WORLD CUP BRAZIL
WOMEN’S FINAL RESULTS:

Mikaili Sol (BRA) 31.67
Bruna Kajiya (BRA) 27.98
Rita Arnaus (ESP) 26.70
Nathalie Lambrecht (SWE) 23.53

2022 QATAR AIRWAYS GKA KITEWORLD TOUR
FINAL FREESTYLE RANKINGS:

1 Mikaili Sol (BRA) World Champion 2,870
2 Bruna Kajiya (BRA) 2,440
3 Rita Arnaus (BRA) 2,310

MEN’S FINAL

Gianmaria Coccoluto demonstrated to the world at this event exactly how freestyle kiteboarding should be performed. Utilising the perfect conditions of Taiba, Gianmaria came from behind in the championship and eased his way past tour leader Manoel Soares and third placed rider Juan Rodriguez on the way to the final. No gusts, no chop, no complaints; when nothing other than rider skill mattered here, he proved a cut throat killer.

Tragedy for the Italian would have been to ride at such an incredible level – streets ahead of the rest – to then miss out on the championship by losing his nerve in the final. He’s the first to admit that he has lost impetus in finals in this and previous seasons.

But this week he looked a new man. Confident but cool. Stylish but technical. Powerful and precise. Oh, and he managed to add a grab to the front blind mobe 5 since he became the first person to land it without a grab in competition earlier this week.

Gianmaria has brought his best Instragram clip game to the competitive playing field and he’s lit this lagoon up.

It’s rare for any professional athlete to maintain this level of performance for entire events and he has left the judges in awe, while competitors past and present scratched their heads as to how he was doing it.

Only a win would bring him the title. He opened the final with the same four tricks in the same order as he had all event. Although none achieved sky high scores, not one of them let him down. Front blind mobe and backside 317 in the bag, when he then landed a stalefish KGB 5 on trick three, holding the blind landing with such composure, it suddenly felt like his own belief transpired into the audience.

Like Neo, we all realised he was ‘the one’.

Sure enough, after trick four (4 tricks count from 7 attempts), the playing field really takes shape and the 8 points for his heart attack 5 propelled him to first position.

Right where he need to be; suddenly everything was in Coccoluto’s hands.

Carlos Mario was almost out of contention in fourth and Erick Anderson (legendary local) was starting to feel the heat in third, but Maxime Chabloz’ star was rising and the Swiss rider had also been slamming high nines throughout his semi final and into the final.

On trick six Gianmaria let rip on the tail grab front blind mobe 5 that he introduced to competition this week. Once again he slotted it home. 9.43 lit up on the beach screen and he howled at the sky before hooking back in. Everyone recognised the moment the Italian turned from being a contender to a world beating player, capable of completing a performance that would truly stand out in kiteboarding’s history books.

But like all heroic tales, there was a twist…

Gianmaria’s crash on his seventh and final trick attempt was pretty much his only mistake of the entire event. For a few minutes, the crowd on the beach held its breath. It all came down to Maxime Chabloz’ last trick.

The Swiss style merchant and current Freeride Ski World Champion has no problem with pressure and had the chance to claim a famous victory at what has become known as the ultimate ever throwdown in freestyle kiteboarding.

He needed a relatively humble score of 6.86 from his final trick to take the win over his friend in a heat that he had already scored two 9s, a 7.37 and 6.5 as his four counting scores.

Amped with emotion on his favourite lagoon, Maxime rode across the shoreline, metres from the beach, took off in front of the crowd, left foot forward and popped out a grabbed slim 7, landing with his kite at an uncharacteristically high angle. Sure enough he was docked points. His score of 6.50 appeared on screen as he turned his head to the far shoreline and rode away.

This was a difficult situation for Maxime; if he’d won this incredible event, he’d have blocked the dream for Gianmaria, and the history books barely ever make space for the best runners-up. Maxime, who would have loved to take his second event win in Brazil, said, “I thought when going for that trick that I was going to win this event, I felt it. But I kind of also wanted to play it safe, so started with a bit higher kite than normal, and I guess maybe I should have gone into it harder.”

Everybody witness to this event knows that Gianmaria put on the most consistently spectacular and progressive display of riding throughout every heat that any of us can remember in this sport.

As it is, Gianmaria Coccoluto is the new and much deserving world champion, who proved the ultimate freestyler in the ultimate location against the ultimate field.

COPA KITLEY GKA-FREESTYLE KITE WORLD CUP BRAZIL
MEN’S FINAL RESULTS:

1 Gianmaria Coccoluto (ITA) 32.83
2 Maxime Chabloz (SUI) 32.47
3 Erick Anderson (BRA) 31.53
4 Carlos Mario (BRA) 27.27

2022 QATAR AIRWAYS GKA KITEWORLD TOUR
FINAL FREESTYLE RANKINGS:

1 Gianmaria Coccoluto (ITA) 2,470 (World Champion)
2 Manoel Soares (BRA) 2,420
3 Carlos Mario (BRA) 2,070

Coming into this event, Manoel Soares was favourite as tour leader and needed only to reach the semi-finals. Our thoughts are with him as he too chased his first world title. In reaching the final, the ever-green Carlos Mario secured third place overall in the Championship, so that four out of six men’s and women’s podium positions are controlled by Brazil – and not for the first time!

But this is freestyle; there is no mercy. It’s full power, requiring total precision. Critical moments will crown or crush you.

And today, Mikaili Sol and Gianmaria Coccoluto were crowned as the 2022 Qatar Airways GKA Freestyle-Kite World Champions.

 

Tomorrow (Saturday) a show event will run on the stream, starting around 12.45pm local time. Follow the event until 12th November on the live page here!

Words – Jim Gaunt
Photos – Svetlana Romantsova 

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