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Wednesday Update – GKA Leucate Event Running – 20 – 30 Knots and Sunny at Port Leucate

Port Leucate - GKA Freestyle World Cup 2019 finals
Port Leucate scenes

EVENT UNDERWAY – 9am – SCROLL DOWN FOR ALL HEAT REPORTS

Wednesday 24th April

Report: Jim Gaunt / All photos: Svetlana Romantsova 

Here we go guys, we’ve moved 20 minutes south of Le Franqui to Port Leucate to make the most of the southerly wind direction and we’re looking good! Wind’s on around 20 knots, cross onshore from the right, sun’s out and the freestyle guns are out! Also a big switch for the riders who weren’t expecting to be hitting right foot kickers coming into this event. 

It’s been a huge operation moving the entire event, including a huge livestream team. 

CLICK HERE to go to the official event page, where you’ll find all the current results, info and LIVESTREAM. 

Update Round One & Two: Men

(Scroll down for women updates)

The decision to move location 20 minutes south from La Franqui to Port Leucate to take advantage of an easterly facing beach for the southerly winds has already paid off. It’s now midday and here’s your update from Men’s round one and round two.

Big news is this new one minute trick format really works! We flew through the heats, averaging a trick every 45 seconds, making for exciting viewing on the livestream. The riders rose to the pressure right out of the gate.

It’s also great to seeing freestyle in such regular coastal ocean conditions. Not easy.

Remember: the riders go one at a time and get six trick attempts, the best four scores count. 

Kite size: Generally men powered on 11s, some switching down to 9s.

Conditions: Cross onshore from the right, veering more cross-shore and dropping a bit when it does. Challenging.

All heat trick details and more here. 

Round One

There was just one heat in round one, which acts as the only qualifier for two French riders for this event. Arthur Krikken eased passed Tom Recalde and advanced to the last heat of round 12, which included Carlos Mario.

Round Two

Into the main business with all qualified riders entering the contest.

Heat 5
O Perrineau / J Ouahmid / S Spiessberger / V Rodriguez

Stephan Spiessberger narrowly beat new up and comer Valentin Rodrigues with 25.57 to Anthar’s 24.07. But both progress easily and by almost ten points. 

Heat 6
R Krikken / A Rosslee / P Serin / S Teixeira 

Set Teixeira breezed through with 26.2 overall in the second heat. His F-One team mate Frenchman Paul Serin qualified in second with 22.07. Rosslee was left languishing in third on 8.6

Heat 07
S Mul / R Rodriguez / A Racca / G Coccoluto

Gianmaria Coccoluto’s 317 was landed and ridden up the beach, and rode it out. Very impressive but not scored!. The Italian star finished second to young Mexican Anthar Racca who claimed the highest trick score so far with an 8.67 for backside 317.

Heat 08
T Fermon / R Giuliano / J Krikken / A Corniel

Adeuri Corniel emphatically entered the event and bam! the big Dominican Vice World Champion meant business. Highest heat score so far with 30.3, including two very high scores: 8.8 slim 7 – first trick of heat and 8.67 backside 317. Qualifying in second place was Romain Giuliano from France.

Heat 09
Borisov / Whaley / Pitot / Fermon – was a big heat.

Russian Borisov made a powerful start, but Whaley soon took control with a heart attack 7 on the inside. The Spaniard 2015 World Champ hooked back in just before the shoreline and calmly rode up the beach, edged to stop and eased his leash back overhead ready for his next trick attempt. He followed that up on his second trick with an unbelievable heart attack 7 off the kicker. Huge – a 9.43! The heat became battle for second between Borisov, Fermon and Pitot. Pitot needed 5.33 to claim second on his last trick and makes it, qualifying by just 0.11!

Heat 10
J Cantini / A Neto / R De Sousa / M Chabloz – Neto and Chabloz the big names.

Lots of ocean trick traps out there for this heat, making for some sticky difficult landings. Crashed first tricks for all – until Chabloz (also a ski world champion!) gets a 5.67 for back mobe 5. Brazilian Alex Neto has been a top five performer but not at peak level for today, making a bad error on a standard hinter mobe. Surprise result in the end here for the Brazilians who would have expected Neto to qualify, but it’s Rafael de Sousa who claims the win (317 7.9 score best trick), with Swiss Chabloz in second.

Heat 11
P Martinez / E Anderson /A Pastor / V Garat

Posito Martinez (2016 Big Air world champ and 2019 King of the Air competitor) came into this event without a ranking, but won this heat! Crashing his first trick hard, he then scored a massive 8.38 for a very powered front blind mobe, taking off already one handed and arching beautifully throughout. Very stylish and unique. Good job from the Dominican. Judges looking for that on these single passes. Alex Pastor had two crashes early on, totally out of character, putting pressure on his remaining tricks and he never quite found enough. Val Garat from France was going big, landing a huge heart attack, but only scoring a 6.53 – massive though. Great rider to watch and took second.

Heat 12
A Krikken / L Ferreira / Del Rosario / C Mario

Mario on a 9m no mistakes on first trick, front blind mobe: 6.07 – but we don’t often see him scoring in the sixes! He then crashed on a heart attack 7. What’s going on with his average?! Which is usually up in the 9s of course! Probably his worst start to a heat ever!

Del Rosario took the lead with two trick from two attempts: 5.27 and 5.03.

Carlos’ third trick was a slim 5 which just moved the Brazilian four time world champ ahead with a 5.57 – probably the safest trick in his locker, just to ensure the lead. Suddenly, with Carlos just in the lead, all three other riders crashed their third tricks. Carlos asserting pressure even while riding well below par. Harsh for everyone else. With one trick to go he was on 22.91 compared to 10.47 from del Rosario in second and he was off the hook and safe. Del Rosario followed him through, but with just a 13.67 heat score.

WOMEN – ROUND ONE 

Conditions 25 – 30 knots. Very challenging indeed for unhooked freestyle! Riders on 7s and sometimes 5s!

Heat 01
M Roux / C Leon / T Taabel / P Novotna

Novotna has lost her kite at the start of the heat! She ran down the beach, grabbed another and by trick 3 she had a secure lead at 11.4.
In the last stage of the heat Austrian Thaabel was under threat. After four tricks she had a crash, a 1.3, a 0.93 and a crash! One of the big names had a lot of pressure for last two tricks!
She needed an 8.43 to advance on last trick – big deal, big moment. The wind really picked up and swang almost cross off shore. Quite powered, she misses it and holds onto the leash. Surprise, she’s out!
Novotna won before even doing her last trick – a 12.05 total. Claudi Leon, 17 from Spain, new last year. 10.65 in second.

Heat 02
F Bagnoli / M Castelle / O Reding / no fourth rider

Wind rattling through judging tower here. Castelle on a six metre. “Riders can barely unhook” exclaimed Lewis Crathern on the livestream! But Osaia Reding finds some strength, backside 315 and rides it out well! A 5.47 for that and took the lead with 6.6 total. Fives are scoring equivalent of 9s here in these tough conditions!
Very established French rider Castelle crashes, leaving her on a 1.83 total needing something halfway decent to steal second, and crashed. A nervy wait for her now to see how the ladder continues, depending on wind and conditions. Will the head judge have to shorten the ladder as we’re on the penultimate day of the comp?
Reding wins 6.6, Bagnoli finished second 6.42 – which mostly came from a blind judge 5.13 on her first trick.

Heat 03 (13.45pm)
R Piveteau / N Lambrecht / B Kajiya / R Arnaus

Condition confirmation from race director for this heat: 18 – 30 knots! Hectic.
Kajiya raises the show of control in these conditions, first event back from injury in a year, and gets a relatively good 4.83 for s-bend to blind on her second trick. Three out of three tricks landed by her: that’s the mark of a winner.
Elsewhere in the heat plenty of crashes and a tight race to qualify was going on below the Brazilian.
There are some flat sections, but the waves were really building out back – well over head foam rollers. Very interesting to watch the women dealing with it.
Evidence of just how exciting the one minute per trick rule: when Lambrecht just squeezed in an s-bend right on the limit – not a difficult trick normally, but in these conditions, it sure is. Even landing a trick could be the difference for these three chasing riders.
Just 0.23 in it in the battle for second place when Piveteau nudged ahead with a 1.23 score for an s-bend. Not epic, but the women were digging in.
Kajiya really showed her class in challenging conditions. Rita Arnaus never found her feet and it was Lambrecht who perhaps threw away second place and ended up in fourth. Needing only a 0.6, she went for a risky blind judge 3, crashed and let Arnaus steal third with a back to toe.
Kajiya way ahead in first with 12.03, French rider Piveteau 2.43 was second.

Heat 04
M Sol / P van Iersel / No third rider / P Valesa

Mika Sol, current World Champion, opened up with a 7.3 for a backside 313. But Pippa van Iersel always rides with fire in her belly and she wasn’t far behind on her first trick, with a 5.67 for s-bend backside 1. If they both do that again, then these two would have almost done enough to win after just two tricks, surely.

(Confirmation happened during this heat that race crew will run the extended ladder, giving all third placed riders in heats another chance!).

A slim chance scored Mika an 8.6 on her third trick after a crash on her second! What a rider. Meanwhile Dutch Van Iersel closed in after four tricks, but Sol still held the lead off just two tricks landed, compared to Pippa’s three. Quality not quantity counts people!
Pint-sized Pauline Valesa (France) must be one of the lightest riders here at the event… she managed a raley to blind for a hard earned 4.01 points off her third trick.
In the end Mika pulled away from Pippa, with three good scores of 7.3, 6.7 and the 8.6 slim. A final score of 23.7 is massive so far for the women! Van Iersel took second with 14.51 and Pauline finished on 5.21.

 

MEN

ROUND 03
Second chance for these riders

Conditions: 20 – 30 knots cross-shore

HEAT 13
V Rodriguez / P Serin / S Mull / T Fermon

And we’re back with the men after a quick ten minute baguette break!
On the livestream Lewis says, “I don’t know, but the men look to be getting lucky as the kickers seem a bit easier, or maybe they just look easier.”
Valentin Rodrigues, just 16 from Colombia, continues where he left round two, back mobe 5 and massive hinterberger frontside 5. He lands two tricks from two, good lad!
Serin came a cropper with these kickers plaguing his landings, especially for a left foot favoured rider on the inside.
Stijn Mul from the Netherlands stomped a big heart attack – smooth, flowing and somehow his knees (and rail) held on landing and didn’t trip him up. He moved up to second.
Rodriguez crashed his third trick and punched the sky. Important as lost the lead with Mul landing his fourth trick – a heart attack frontside 5. Meanwhile Fermon had tallied up three scoring tricks from four. Consistency paying off and we’ve seen how important that is in the last two hours.
After four tricks: Mul 16.77 / Serin 15.35 / Fermon 14.8 / Rodriguez 14.46
Fermon takes the lead with a 6.2 for double hinterberger frontside 3, Rodriguez looks for slim 7, but makes sure of a 5. Wise; moves to second. Serin crashes. One trick left for everyone… just 5.65 points separate them all!
Leader Fermon increases his overall lead with a heartattack. Mull gets 4.7 for a slim; moves to second, pushing Rodrigues to third.
Rodriguez has to land, and land well… and he does! Scoring a 6.2 – takes the lead! What a turn around.
So that’s how it ends: Colombian Valentin Rodrigues takes it: 26.87, with Frenchie Theo Ferman in second 22.4, both advance. Sadly, au revoir Mull and Serin.

Heat 14
G Coccoluto / R Giuliano / O Perrineau / A Rosslee

Picking up the story halfway through after three tricks each:
Coccoluto 11.93 / Giuliano 10.84 / Perrineau 7.64 / Rosslee 0.93
So it was Coccoluto in first with two successful attempts from three and he took the fourth trick attempt first. The Italian nailed a heart attack perfectly, earning a 5.97, he was cruising through the gears.
Perrineau (the only rider in foot straps!) couldn’t catch the winner, but was definitely in the run for second. Used up most of his minute allowance for his fourth trick and managed to go for a double heart attack. Butt checked on the landing but suffered no negativity from riding in straps.
Front blind mobe as good as they come, slamming the door shut on the other riders by Coccoluto on his fifth trick. But Giuliano is a very good looking rider, gets a 6.57 on a double hintermobe and just about hooks back in before riding up the beach. Incredible.
So it came down to being between two riders, Coccoluto and Giuliano going into the last trick: 23.7 and 22.54 respectively.
Coccoluto took off but didn’t go for a trick, not fancying his chances, so played it safe as he was already assured of being in the top two. Giuliano’s 315 wasn’t quite enough and he stayed in second.
Result: Coccoluto: 23.7, Giuliano: 22.54. They’re through. Perrineau: 10.91, Rosslee: 4.72 are out.

Heat 15
A Pastor / L Ferreira / L Pitot / M Chabloz

A different Alex Pastor came out for heat 15, and one more like the world champion he was in 2013. Back mobe 5, front blind mobe, double heart attack and a slim in the bag – four tricks and dry hair!
This was a heat of high consistency if not massive tricks. Swiss teen Chabloz was up there with backmobe 5, backside 317 (highest score 8.27) and 317. Again, dry hair coming into his fourth trick… he went big but almost had too much time for a heart attack 5 and didn’t make it, landing very vertically with a plop. Advantage swang to Pastor who then had the luxury of trying to just upgrade his four best tricks as he already had four scores on the board.
Wind dropped off a little… just a little. Riders comfortable on nines and tens. A backside 315 didn’t improve Pastor’s score.
Pressure moved to second placed Chabloz who was being chased down by Pitot and still needed a fourth trick score. A safe slim 5 moved Chabloz ahead of Pastor where he stayed.
Riders certainly not looking as powered as they were in previous heats and it was Chabloz and Pastor comfortably through with 23.1 and 22.43 respectively.

Heat 16
S Borisov / V Garat / A Neto / J del Rosario

Borisov is a Russian legend who’s been doing international comps for years! He looks like a machine, but it was Frenchman Val Garat with two scoring tricks from three at the halfway stage who was ahead.
Alex Neto’s bad day was continuing. A big surprise to the crew – he just wasn’t finding the landings. He’s from Cumbuco, but he’s no stranger to travelling to compete. Plus he nailed a perfect 10 for a KGB 7 at the Brazil event last year. He deserves respect! Could he pull his performance together?
One thing we keep being reminded of watching the action here is that one minute isn’t long to land a trick in difficult conditions.
The wind picked up massively during Val Garet’s fourth trick attempt and he threw a kite loop! Wow. Moments later Del Rosario threw a kite loop!
This is going to be a combined format world tour, but Leucate is scheduled as a pure freestyle scoring event. The plan for the future is to move to a more big air format when the wind goes over 30 knots. The crew and riders had a big discussion two days ago to smooth out the plan on the upcoming high wind events, but it looks like Garat and Rosario are already ready to go with it!
Good news for Neto fans, he found some consistency in his last three tricks: 5.1, 4.7 and 3.83 which ground out second place for him, finishing on 13.63, a total of 6.83 behind Garat on 20.46. Borisov and del Rosario ended their day here.

That was the end of men’s round three. Time to switch back to the women’s semi finals. 

WOMEN’S ROUND TWO

HEAT 05
M Castelle / P van Iersel / T Taabel / R Piveteau

Straight away it was obvious the riders were having to explore the lower level tricks scores, not even handle passes to get scores. Women on fives and sixes!
Pippa van Iersel, usually so strong, crashed two unhooked tricks and feeling free-er to try big air after seeing the guys in the last heat, then threw a kite loop and she was off the mark! Though scoring just a 2.4 but it was way higher than the 0.9 points that the other women were scoring for s-bend efforts.
The heat was getting to the stage where if you could manage to land a handle-pass you massively accelerated your chances of winning. Craig Cunningham on the stream commented that landing to wrapped in waters like this is harder than making a full pass. But it’s all a big deal!
Van Iersel made a blind judge and then powered through the wave while reversing out. She stayed composed, worked her heels through the rail and a really valuable score of 4.37 was hers. The Dutch charger moved to 6.77 with two scoring tricks out of four attempts, giving her a lead of 4.22 over Maureen Castelle.
On trick five Therese Thaabel from Denmark slotted a 4.17 for a raley to blind. She finished second and in the end van Iersel had done enough before even taking her sixth and final trick. So what did she do? Smashed out a big heart attack off a big kicker, landing perfectly! 8.3 on her weaker right foot forward tack. Smoked it. Told you she rode with fire. Pippa obviously wanted to take momentum into the bigger final heats.

Pippa van Iersel wins with 15.07. Therese Taabel just about held onto second with 4.97. Castelle finished third and Piveteau fourth, and they’re leaving the competition.

HEAT 06
F Bagnoli / P Valesa / R Arnaus / C Leon

The wind dropped a lot for this heat because it switched a little more cross offshore, but then halfway through squalled up again. Hold on tight ladies!
Claudia Leon from Spain is making a name for herself here. The Spaniard gritted her teeth and ensured that she nailed her landings. Three tricks and dry hair and an increasing score each time.
Bagnoli meanwhile – the more established rider – had just two scoring tricks from four, but trailed Leon by just 0.45.
Rita Arnaus continued to struggle in these conditions, but Pauline Valesa was showing her experience from the GKA Air Games last year and brought in her kite loop game. By far her highest score, but she still found herself chasing the other three.
Here’s a clue to the difficulty of conditions: Bagnoli moved ahead with a front roll! 0.9 enough to trade places with Leon. Big winds; small differences.
But then Bagnoli bagged a quality slim chance as her last trick and made the win looks perhaps easier than it was, scoring a 7.37. Result – Bagnoli: 18.64 and Leon: 10.81 were through. Rita Arnaus and Pauline Valesa deflated their kites.

 

Men’s Quarter Finals  

HEAT 17
V Rodriguez / S Teixeira / R Giuliano / S Spiessberger

I find myself writing once again that Valentin Rodriguez made another super strong start with three tricks totalling 14.53. Back mobe 5, hinterberger frontside 5 and slim 5. But then came Set Teixeira, Cumbuco local from Brazil, top three finisher regularly from the last few seasons, who eased his way through his first heat and after a packed day, seven hours later we’re only seeing him on the water for the second time. No matter; he’s always ready. 6.93, 4.53 and 6.93 put him ahead with good scores, peaking with the backside 315 and double heart attack…
But back struck Rodriguez with a 9.27 score for an epic 319. What?? Nuts! The conditions are so hard today and he landed one of the most sought after tricks in the game right now. Gauntlet thrown down. Colombia are in it to win it.
I should mention the two other riders in the heat, Stefan Spiessberger and rookie Roman Giuliano – they’re no fools, but were ridden off the water in this heat.
Valentin Rodriguez went ahead of Set for his last trick – so the game was in his hands. Firstly he needed to make sure he landed something for his sixth and final trick otherwise Set would need just a single point to win. The Colombian thought about a slim 7, but had to settle for a safe 5, earning just a 2.77.
Teixeira needed a 4.58 for the win… to gain a possible advantage to stay in this top half of the heat ladder and avoid Carlos Mario in the semi-finals… and he crashed!! Rodriguez wins by 0.4! Sweet for the 16 year-old. Teixeira goes through too in second.
Going through to semis: Rodriguez: 23.8 / Teixeira: 23.76

HEAT 18 ( Local time 18.00)
G Coccoluto / A Racca / T Fermon / A Corniel

Coccoluto crow mobe 5 biggest of the day! Gets a 6.67.
Corniel’s a favourite here… coming down to five seconds remaining for his third trick he left it late, took off and only managed a slim 5 on his third trick; but was an important landing as other riders had at least one score on the board.
After two tricks it was Anthar Racca, young Mexican champ, who was ahead with 11.6 from a heart attack and double hinterburger frontside 5.
Although Coccoluto turned the screw with a double hinterberger frontside 5, briefly taking the lead on his third trick, Anthar struck back on his own hat trick, scoring a standard 315.
Things were looking serious for Corniel who crashed his third trick. Realistically he would have to land all three of his final three tricks. You won’t win at this level if you’re missing one of four counting tricks.
Coccoluto tried to step up with a blind judge 7, but couldn’t push through the landing.
What a move! Anthar Racca stomped one of only a handful of slim 7s seen today and streaked out front with 22.2 from four tricks. A healthy tally from what we’ve seen so far. He was at it again a few minutes later with a high trick score of 8.73 for a backside 317.
Suddenly Adeuri Corniel was faced with needing two massive eights from his last two tricks to go through. He got a 7.6 for a double heart attack, which left him needing a 9.65 for claim second from Coccoluto after Coccoluto got a solid 6.1 for a KGB.
The Raccar ship had sailed as he was still leading with one trick to go after Coccoluto had spent all six.
In the end Corniel had so much pressure on his last trick, needing an almost perfect ten to just take second. In the end he just missed his take-off and couldn’t even try a rotation. Savage. Vice World Champ was out.
Result: Racca 26.86 / Coccoluto 22.87 – both through to semis. Ariel Corniel 13.86 / Theo Fermon 12.56

Anthar’s 26.86 was the second highest heat score of the day. Only Rodriguez the heat before got higher… with 26.87! Tight from the young guns.

HEAT 19
A Neto / M Chabloz / L Whaley / R de Sousa

Finally! Neto made a good start to a heat today and was the only rider to score on his first trick: a 4.78 for a crow mobe.
Chabloz’s backside 317 earned a whopping 8.13. Just turned 18 years-old, he also won the Junior World Championship within the last month. Oh, and he’s a ski world champion. Too talented obviously. Share some will ya!
Liam Whaley casually stuck a back mobe 5 and was two points adrift of Chabloz after two tricks.
Neto, no! The Brazilian timed out of his third trick. For some reason he started his tack really far out to sea. Calm yourself Alex!
Meanwhile, grabbed front blind mobe from Whaley. He attempted the second grab… and would have been sweet had that late grab locked on. 6.67 – not the usual Whaley wonder we’re used to.
Halfway through the heat it looked like a Chabloz / Whaley would surely advance to the semis. And it became so: a backside 317 from Whaley scored an 8.63 – one of the highest 317 family tricks of the day! Chabloz slotted 6.6 for a back mobe 5 that was arguably as big as Valentin Rodriguez’s earlier in the day, (which scored a 7.77, but was perhaps in tougher conditions).
Maxime Chabloz is a real contender for the win at the event and took off a big kicker for his last trick, went absolutely massive, attempted a 319… lost the bar… massive bail.
So, Liam ended up cruising through, looking very good with a massive heat score of 28.23. Chabloz also through in second with 26.6. Two huge 317s from both riders were their biggest scores: 8.13 for Chabloz and 8.63 for Liam. Bosh.

HEAT 20
C Mario / A Pastor / V Garat / P Martinez

Once again Carlos Mario was finding things tough early on in his heat. Just couldn’t find a spot that he was comfortable for a take off. He had a front blind mobe on his first trick and was then forced into a dirty take-off late into his second trick’s allotted minute. No rotation. Hmmm, pressure on the World Champion?
Alex Pastor has upped his performance throughout the day and that’s the sign of a seasoned pro (and champion). Backmobe five and front blind mobe are very solid staples from the Spaniard and he produced great examples of both off the kickers.
Posito Martinez, a real all rounder, jumped ahead after three tricks, all landed.
Moving into the second half of the heat. Pastor laid down a double heart attack, Martinez crashed crucially and Carlos Mario’s fourth trick on his 12 metre – a 317, getting 9.6 points! Look out everyone.
Trick five: backside 315 for Pastor gets 6.13, Martinez crashes, Garat’s picking up his game in the closing stages of this heat with a heart attack frontside 3 scoring 5.53. Carlos ‘Bebe’ Mario, slim 5 earning 5.27.
Coming into last trick the heat stood: Mario: 27.97, Pastor: 22.99, Martinez: 16,76, Garat: 14.57
Big kicker came in for Val Garat, he could have pipped Pastor from last to second with a massive 317… he went for it and in the lighter wind, sadly dropped heavily after completing the double pass, but with little forward momentum, he exploded.
Pastor was once again under pressure from Martinez who launched massive front blind mobe which ended in another explosion. Pastor was somehow still safe. Having not started the day well, Pastor’s progressing!

And how did we end the heat? Speechless, that’s how. Bebe got another score close to a ten! 9.73 for a heart attack 7 that would have exploded everyone else’s knees. “You just can’t be that good!” screamed Lewis down the livestream! It seems he can!

See you in the semis Carlos Mario and a fully stoked Alex Pastor, who finished on 22.99 after four tricks. But check this: a 32.43 heat scores for Carlos. Freak show in France.

WOMEN’S

SEMI FINAL 01
P van Iersel / O Reding / P Novotna / C Leon

Condition update: The riders on 9s and 10s. The time: coming up to 7.30pm!

Pippa ‘the power’ van Iersel ripped her way through her first three tricks, seamlessly, assured and up to a 17.67 tally without fault.
Claudia Leon has had a great day, but with two crashes after three tricks was 13.18 points behind Pippa already.
Paula Novotna’s a seasoned pro and even she was only on 5.5 points after three tricks (two crashes).
Spaniard Osiah Reding’s blind judge and s-bend had snuck her into second. So going into the second half of the heat with three tricks left, Leon landed a blind judge in the race for the all-important second position – which would see someone advance to the final alongside Pippa who looked unbeatable in this heat.
Reding also crashed trick four. The race for second was on. Novotna had three crashes, but could still sneak it and come up from last.
Leon crashed trick five and Novotna got a 2.57 for a hinterberger frontside 3. That’ll do in this case!
Reding crashed an s-bend to blind. My word! The situation: 8.6, 8.07 and 5.73 – Leon, Novotna and Reding in that order going into the last trick.
The word from the coaches looking at the heat sheet: ‘just nail a good s-bend, don’t crash’ and that could be enough to qualify for the final!
It was Claudia Leon who moved into her first final, claiming that crucial single point for an s-bend on her last trick while the others crashed. It doesn’t always need to be perfect to be tense. Cruel blows to Novotna and Reding who are out.

Through to the final: heat winner Pippa van Iersel with 22.3 / Claudia Leon with 9.6.

SEMI FINAL 2
T Taabel / F Bagnoli / B Kajiya / M Sol

What the…? Big favourites Kajiya and Sol both crashed their first tricks. Taabel and Bagnoli took advantage. They’re going to have to keep that up when the Brazilian predators come back no doubt over the next five tricks.
Bagnoli banged out two tricks, a blind judge and a 313 to be far our front after two tricks with 8.77 as the other three all crashed again. Unbelievable from Sol and Kajiya. Last heat of the day – could there be a big upset?
Third trick – Bruna just about squeaked out a blind judge from Bruna, but it was in the back of the net at least for a 4.5 score and heaped the pressure on Mikaili, who was always last rider to take their trick in each of the six attempts in the heat. Sol held cool with a 5.77 for a backside 313. Average for her, but she really needed a landing.
Taabel had two crashes on her card but covered large distance with an s-bend to blind and bagged a 5.7. She took the lead!
Bagnoli on her fourth trick: a 7.83 for a slim. First 7 for the women! The Brazilians had it all to do.
Bruna managed an s-bend to blind, but it was low. What could Mikaili do? During a big team talk from coach Fabio on the beach while she waited her turn she looked very tense. Big moment coming up: ohhh just a back roll! Unbelievable stuff – but we know she can send it for a stratospheric score. Was she too psyched up, though?
Bruna missed the bar on a back to blind on trick five. This was getting hard to watch.
Mika made her way round a slim 5… bit of a butt check, but that’s going to count. How much? 6.93 – she’s up to second after five tricks for all rider! Big sigh on the beach from coach Fabio.

The scores before trick six – Bagoli: 17.3 / Sol: 13.4 Taabel: 11.57 Kajiya: 10.47

Taabel’s timed out of her last trick. What a mistake! Not the time for that!
Bagnoli’s up next: back to wrapped, not powered, she won’t care, she’s in the final, will it be via first or second position in this heat? We would see…
Bruna was in last, she needed a 2.94 increase for second. Could she land something serious? A slim, got a 3.2 from the judges with a big butt check counting as a landing.
So, last trick of the day, Sol knew the maths and needed to just land something simple, choosing an S-bend and squeezed ahead of Bruna.
What an epic and tense last heat. Sol was very emotional on the beach at the end – she’s never been pushed so hard, and still at just 14 claimed two world championships last year. Perhaps this was a big journey for her and a big lesson. No doubt she won’t crack. Coach Fabio will be easing her mind tonight. The final’s going to be great on the last day tomorrow!

Result: Bagnoli: 20.53 / Sol: 14.6 / Kajiya: 13.67 / Taabel: 11.57.

So the women’s final will be:

Mika Sol
Claudia Leon
Pippa van Iersel
Francesca Bagnoli

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