Kite Park League Team Battle
Across the globe, the obvious spotlight for competitive kiteboarding has largely been pointed in the direction of the Freestyle, Big Air and Racing disciplines. However, the small town and USA kiteboarding mecca, Hood River, Oregon, recently hosted the second annual Kite Park League Team Battle event, a grassroots contest focused on producing collective group videos across brands which were filmed over a fixed 1-week timeline. After experiencing renowned success and recognition from the inaugural event held in 2022, competitors and viewers alike begged for more. And that is just what the KPL has delivered.
To start things off, the teams must be chosen. This occurs through a highly strategic process where the top 5 seeded KPL competitors from the 2023 contest season assume their role as team captains and roll dice to determine the picking order for teammates. After the initial roll of the dice, the picking begins. Reminiscent of school yard days, the teams were chosen with intense courtesy, every captain thoughtfully stacking their team with a variety of strengths needed for this unique project. Not only do captains want the most talented riders, but they also want to make sure they have handy filmers as well as a good mesh of personalities. Afterall, this is the crew that is going to be knit together for a whole week.
Once the teams were chosen, it was immediately off to the races. Drones went up in the sky to start gathering B-roll shots, team photos were taken, and strategies began to be formed as the collective group enjoyed a welcome BBQ hosted by the KPL event organizers. Our Duotone team riders were divied out amongst competing teams with Noe Font captaining team Navy, Xander Raith captaining team Ice, and Colleen Carroll as a top pick for team Forest.
As the event commenced, it was farely certain that the best conditions were going to be on day 1 with some big winds moving through the Gorge starting on day 2. What ensued for the first day of filming in the Slider Project kite park could very well be construed as controlled chaos. Each obstacle with a lineup of riders waiting their turn to take a hit, kiters riding in harmony to capture follow cam shots of each other, drones weaving in and out of the mashup of kites, and filmers disbursed throughout the park working to get the best shots possible for their teammates. The atmosphere was collaborative, exciting, hectic, and electric. Most teams put in long hours on day 1 with the last riders and filmers coming in as the very last rays of sunlight sunk below the western hillside.
Over the next few days, teams worked hard to continue to bank footage and land their very best tricks however, the conditions proved to be incredibly challenging. Winds blew through the Gorge at speeds much better suited for Big Air kiteboarding with peaks going above 40mph. Thankfully, the reliable Gorge winds prevailed and despite a meager forecast following the couple days of nuking winds, the KPL competitors were gifted with two more days of suitable riding conditions.
The teams continued to put in long days on and off the water, filming, sorting footage, editing, and cooperating to create the 3 minute video that would be their culminating entry at the end of the week. After the entries has been submitted, competitors and spectators gathered for a viewing party hosted at a spectacular site amongst an orchard in the Hood River Valley. All 5 team videos as well as nominations for individual awards played over the movie screen and were immediately voted on by the competitors post viewing. Another unique facet to the KPL Team Battle event is that there are no designated judges. Instead, it is the competitors who will then rate their peers and determine the winners.
Following the viewing, awards were presented. Notably amongst them, team rider, Noe Font won an individual award for Best Overall Male Rider as well as Best Rail Hit and Xander Raith won for Best Kicker hit as well as under his guidance, his team won Best Overall Edit. To check all the edits you can click here
The team video rankings are as follows:
1st Place Team Scarlet: Ramiro Gallart, Jack Reider, Alex Meindi, Chase Hasch, Einar Saad, Nadja Bianchet
2nd Place Team Ice: Xander Raith, Katie Potter, Tim Walsh, Ian Daly, Asher Clarke
3rd Place Team Forest: Ewan Jaspan, Colleen Carroll, Eric Rienstra, Chris Bobrick, Leo Verrechia
4th Place Team Navy: Noe Font, Brendan Kerr, Andy Cain, Zach Draper, Ryan Goloversic, Lauren Hollman
5th Place Team Gold: Brandon Scheid, Sensi Graves, Nick Baines, Devin Carroll, Kristen Cooper, Alexander Lewis-Hughes