Report By: Holly Keenan Photos by: Samuel Cardenas
What a spectacular finish to the Qatar Airways GKA Big Air World Championships. Today we saw the women twin-tip riders pushing big air to the next level, whilst also witnessing Airton Cozzolino completely dominate in the men’s strapless.
WOMEN’S TWIN-TIP BIG AIR COMPETITION
Saturday 2nd July, Balneario, Tarifa
It was a bright and early start for riders as the first women’s twin-tip heat kicked off around 8 am. We had lighter winds than the previous day, but conditions were still looking optimal for big air. We flew straight into round two of the women’s, with Hannah Whiteley and Nathalie Lambrecht putting on incredible performances.
The women were making this heat look like a final, both performing some extreme mega loops and boogie loops. In the last few minutes of the heat Hannah managed to pull off a magnificent front roll contraloop.
However, it was Lambrecht from Sweden who claimed the victory in this heat, by landing a clean, powerful double backroll megaloop in the final moments that left everyone speechless.
On the other side of the women’s ladder multiple world champion Mikaili Sol started to work her way up the rankings, building on her heat scores and making her way into the semi-finals, taking out her good friend, Karli Thoma.
In the semi-finals, we had some very tight heats between the women, in particular, Zara Hoogenraad and Nathalie Lambrecht.
It was down to the wire for these two ladies as Zara took the win over Nathalie by only a 0.3 difference. Mikaili Sol also had an incredible heat in the semis against the American newcomer to the tour, Michaela Pilkenton.
Mika cranked into top gear in the heat as she landed the first-ever doobie loop by a woman in a competition! This move advanced her through to the finals, where she would face the dangerous dutchy, Zara Hoogenraad.
FINALS OF THE WOMENS TWIN-TIP
We had an exciting women’s final on our hands with current Big Air Kite League / Full Power Tarifa champion, Zara Hoogenraad, vs multiple disciplinary world champion and newly crowned GKA Rider of the Year, Mikaili Sol.
Mika commenced the heat with all guns blazing, landing a nicely executed double front roll board- off. Zara answered back with a textbook boogie loop, which she always lands consistently throughout her heats.
This only seemed to spur Mika on even more as she went on to pull off another doobie loop. Mika emerged victorious in this heat, showing us that she is undoubtedly the most diverse female rider kiteboarding has ever seen. After only training big air a few days before this event, it was incredible to see Mika take the win in the big air discipline, throwing down moves that her other components had trained months for.
Overall Results Women’s Twin-tip:
1st: Mikaili Sol (BRA)
2nd: Zara Hoogenraad (NED)
3rd: Nathalie Lambrecht (SWE)
4th: Michela Pilkenton (USA)
Men’s Strapless Big Air
The wind began to drop a little towards the beginning of the men’s rounds one and two, and it was borderline as to whether the competition would continue.
Nevertheless, these experienced strapless riders managed to make things happen in the 20-knot winds, and boy did they put on a show!
One rider who surprised everyone during the men’s strapless competition was rookie on tour Gabriel Benetton (BRA). In round three, Gabriel managed to take out the favorite for this event, James Carew (AUS). James appeared to be struggling in the lighter winds and couldn’t seem to get into his flow.
On the other hand, Benetton had the heat of his life putting together some spectacular manoeuvres such as a contraloop, front roll megaloop and back roll megaloop. He took home the highest score of the day with 25 points in the semi-finals against Camille Delannoy (FRA). His win against Delannoy secured him his first ever final on the GKA World Tour.
Gabriel Benetton: “This is my first ever GKA event, and I am over the moon to place second place. I did not expect this going into this event and yet, here I am, in the final!”
Joining the young prodigy would be the one and only Airton Cozzolino!
Airton had been consistent throughout the day landing pretty much all his tricks and sending the crowds crazy on the beach with his soaring megaloops. He had his game face on for this competition, and he wasn’t going to let the championship title slip away from him again.
The last finale of the competition kicked off with ‘Cozzolino airlines’ flying through the sky, landing a textbook megaloop. Airton had his feet firmly glued to the board during the heat, landing trick after trick.
It looked like the pressure might have gotten to the young Brazilian slightly as he struggled to land all his tricks. Gabriel put on an incredible show today but could not match Airtons style, and power.
Airton once again adds another Strapless Big Air World Championship Title, and the smile on his face when receiving his award said it all.
Men’s Strapless Final Results:
1st: Airton Cozzolino
2nd: Gabriel Benton
3rd: Lorenzo Casati
4th: Camille Delannoy
Thats A Wrap!
Thats a wrap for the Qatar Airways GKA Big Air World Championships and we are beyond happy to have crowned all our champions. After two weeks of intense action, riders and crew are looking to celebrating a very successful event together with a night out on Tarifa Town! Stay tuned for more video highlights coming your way!