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Lords of Tram

The world's best in big air descended on Bacares, France, to compete in the famed Lords of Tram event that would also count as the first event of the GKA Big Air World Championship Tour. Day 1 only tempted the athletes with contestable conditions but followed things up nicely on Day 2 with strong Tramontana winds peeking above 50kts. The strong and gusty winds tested riders to see how comfortably they could manage the challenging conditions.

The Duotone team put on a great show, facing the challenging conditions head-on. All of the riders choosing the Evo Dlab and Jaime SLS as their trusted kit for the competition.

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The early rounds differentiated the field, with our French riders showing just how familiar they were with the spot. Early on, Edgar Ulrich played an intelligent game, incorporating unhooked handless maneuvers when the winds dipped slightly in speed and then notched it up with impressive kite loop variations like his Contra front roll double loop board off that awarded him a 7.73 and comfortably sent him through to the third round and on his path to success. The young French rider, Nathan Texier, went all out, covering huge distances and reaching impressive heights with his tricks.

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Still, unfortunately, he wasn't able to put enough scores on the board to progress through to the later rounds. Val Garat, another local rider who is very comfortable in the waters of Bacares, executed some massive manoeuvres but came short of reaching the quarter-finals by just .3 of a point.

Val remarks, "It's amazing to have such a big event in a spot that I've been riding at for so many years that I can almost call home. It's a special spot for me, with special wind, and I'm happy that it's now one of the most famous spots in big air kiteboarding!"

In addition to our French crew, our men's field ran deep, boasting 2023 Big Air World Champion Andrea Principi, 5x Freestyle World Champion Aaron Hadlow, and young gun Max Tullet. Max, one of the youngest riders in the competition at just 14 years old, impressively faced off with incredibly experienced riders like Hadlow, who showed us just how high his kiteboarding IQ is as he cruised through the first couple of rounds. While he exemplified variety, precision, and amplitude, Hadlow would get edged out in round 3, ending his run for the podium. 

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A favorite coming into the event, Andrea Principi, flying the coveted 'Pink Pig' exclusive Evo colorway kite and board, was undisturbed on his competition bid until meeting his maker in the semi-finals. Principi posted high heat scores in the early rounds, showcasing his insanely powerful riding style, critical timing, and impressive landings. However, he didn't find quite the same stride as he moved into the semis. He played a smart heat, laying a solid foundation of scores from the required categories, but when the wind dropped slightly, he was unable to adjust as needed and was surpassed by heat winners Overbeek and Casati. 

Ulrich proved the last-standing men's Duotone rider as the event reached its crescendo. Ulrich charged into the final by displaying a wide variety of huge loops and cinching his third-place finish with his final trick attempt of the day, landing a beautiful Contra Loop front roll board off. Huge congratulations to Edgar for his podium finish!

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For the women's competition, we witnessed an incredible comeback story unfold in front of our eyes. Pippa Van Iersel was making her competition comeback after a long two years off while recovering from injury. But clearly, Van Iersel hasn't missed a beat. Executing a precise competition strategy, she landed well-executed tricks early in her heats and then followed them up with bigger and more critical versions, such as her highest-scoring trick of the final, her Triple Backroll KiteLoop, for which she was rewarded with an 8.77.

Congratulations to Pippa, we are so proud of your accomplishment!

Profile pic Pippa Van IerselI

»The fire inside me has never burned so hard after not being able to kite for a long time and not competing for even longer. My perspective on training changed, but I also prioritized my health. It is not just one thing that was the key to success; it's the whole process I have been through, the people I surrounded myself with, and the adjustments I made over time that led to this beautiful result. I'm proud.«

— Pippa Van Iersel

Also representing Duotone for the women's field are athletes Sarah Sadek and Justine Avril. Newcomer to the Duotone family, Sadek, Egyptian Champion, turned heads with powerful loops and clean landings, showing that she has quickly adapted to her new gear and can hang with the best in big air. Sadek only narrowly missing out on the final by a fraction of a point. Justine displayed her powerful and committed riding style but also missed out on advancing to the later rounds of the competition. We look forward to seeing more from both of these charging women.

Huge congratulations to all of the athletes and winners!

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