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Youri Zoon – 15 years of Freestyle Competition

At the end of the 2018 season, Youri Zoon announced that it would be his last year competing on the full World Tour, after 15 years of competing in Freestyle Kiteboarding. Youri has had one of the most successful careers in the industry, and though he will no longer be 100% dedicated to competition, he will still be deeply involved with the kiteboarding industry and hopefull will attend at least one of the Freestyle competitions organized by the new GKA Kite World Tour.

So you announced at the end of last year that 2018 would be your last full year of competition… does that mean you are retiring from kiteboarding now, or what are you plans for 2019?

There is always a time from coming and going and i think for the it’s finally the right time to stop competing! I most likely will never fully retire from kiteboarding.I already have some events and demos lined up so I am pretty sure I won’t be sitting around at home! I will definitely be focusing more on the media side of kiteboarding for now.

You managed to do 15 years of competition, which is probably the longest anyone has ever done within kiteboarding. Tell us about your first events, and how you started.

Yes, I think that is one of the longest in Freestyle. Back in 2004, Brunotti planned a photoshoot in Brazil, Ceara beachpark, and the PKRA was held there as well. So I thought, why not give it a go? I was 14 at that time. Right now there loads of 14 year olds on the competition scene, but back then not so many, and with over 90 competitors, it was a long way already to make it into the main event which I did! Super stoked about that… and it all kind of went on from there.

Throughout your career, you have managed to stay at the top of the rankings, despite many new names coming and going… how did you manage this?

Don’t forget the injuries haha! I don’t know, in everything I do, I want to give myself  110%, no holding back on anything.I always pushed my self hard for it, which is what i am still doing today as well. Stress, pressure, deadlines etc….all of these things make me perform better.

Throughout an event, my first heat was always my worst heat, and then I was getting better and better. So I guess put some pressure on me and you get the best out of me!

Tell us the top moments during your competitive career.

I think my all time best year was 2011 where I won 6 out of the 7 stops that where there and I came 3rd at the last one. 2012 was a good battle between Alex Pastor and I,  where it came down to the last 10 seconds of the heat.

For sure there were also some tough times, what were the hardest moments throughout all these years competing?

The injuries…. 2013 was a though one for me where i dislocated my shoulder. I was sitting in 1st place in the ranking and than it all dropped to 0. I know it’s all part of the game but it still sucks a lot when it happens to you.

You have probably spent about 80% of your time away from home and travelling, how does it feel now to finally have some time to spend at home with your friends and family?

It’s good! I just spent almost 2 months at home which hasn’t happened for a really long time! I like to be at home and do stuff that I never had the time for before. It seems a bit strange but it was nice to get a bit of a routine in my life again…. Although I am travelling now already again and February and March are completely booked haha.

I always stayed in close contact with everybody though even when I was travelling the most; that’s the good thing about todays technology.

So what are your plans for the future, and will you still remain in the kiteboarding industry if you are not competing?

Yes for sure. I started kiteboarding and competing because it is my passion and i want to thrive that passion onwards.

Will you do one last event this year to finish off? Which one do you think you will choose?

Yes, I want to do 1 event not for the best result possible( well of course haha I will go for it) but more to give a place and let it go. I think as an athlete you go sign something off..… Done and dusted! I didn’t get that chance this year due to my knee injury in Dakhla, so I will do one more event to finish things properly.

Can you give some words of advice to the newcomers on tour, and all the young kids who are just starting out and hoping to have a long and successful career like yours?

Cheesy and cliché but trust me it works!

Just be you! Dont change yourself because others have expectations from you… Be who you are and you will be the only one!

So keep an eye out for this 2019 season… and see how former World Champion Youri Zoon finishes things off properly!

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