BIG AIR CRASH LANDINGS WITH ANDREA PRINCIPI
For this instalment of our series “How to control your crash landings”, we caught up with the 2023 Red Bull Megaloop Challenge Champion and two-time World Champion Andrea Principi.
Recently arriving back in the land of Big Air, South Africa, Andrea is getting ready for Big Air’s most prestigious event, the King of the Air. We took this opportunity to speak with the Italian Big Air powerhouse about his training in the lead-up to such a crucial competition and his tips for progressing your own Big Air game with minimum risk and maximum reward.
HI ANDREA, HOW OFTEN HAVE YOU PARTICIPATED IN THE KOTA, AND WHAT ARE YOUR ASPIRATIONS FOR THIS YEAR'S COMP? IS THERE ANYTHING SPECIFIC IN YOUR TRAINING IN THE LEAD-UP TO THE TOP-TIER BIG AIR EVENT?
It's my second time competing in the KOTA, and I definitely want to try to win it. I've been training like never before and aim to kick off competing as prepared as possible with maximum energy. I'm happy with the tricks I'm landing and hope to land them during the comp, too.
Yes, absolutely! Right now, everything is 100% targeted at what I plan on doing in the KOTA. Thus, I’m intensely practising and fully focused on some specific moves. Usually, when it’s not right before a comp, my training is more general and broad to improve in many different aspects and work on nailing new tricks..
YOU ARE INDEED AT THE FOREFRONT OF THE EVOLUTION OF BIG AIR TRICKS. IT MUST BE A CRAZY RIDE, CONSTANTLY PUSHING THE ENVELOPE IN THE SEARCH FOR THE ”NEXT BIG MOVE”. WHO ARE YOUR TOUGHEST OPPONENTS (S) IN THE 2023 KOTA? AND WHAT ARE YOUR STRATEGIES TO COPE WITH THE PRESSURE?
All the other athletes are very strong. Staying focused is the key and concentrating on doing the tricks I trained for. That’s how I can ensure a top performance and show everyone my best kiting.
I thrive on discovering the limits of this discipline and proving that nothing is impossible. This motivates me daily to push my limits and those of the sport.
»Mental preparation is super important and visualising a trick helps me a great deal«
AS A PROFESSIONAL BIG AIR RIDER, YOU MUST HAVE STRATEGIES TO MINIMISE THE RISK OF INJURY. CAN YOU PLEASE SHARE YOUR TOP TIPS ON CONTROLLING YOUR CRASH LANDINGS AND PRECAUTIONS FOR HITTING THE WATER?
Predicting when you're about to get injured is difficult, but insights come with experience and lots of time on the water. My worst injury was breaking my rib last year before the KOTA. This injury caused a huge amount of stress. I'm trying to limit heavy crashes as much as possible this year.
By now, I've gained an understanding of what is seriously dangerous and what I can get away with. I can calculate the risks better and limit the frequency of crashes. Mental preparation is super important and visualising a trick helps me a great deal. I train a lot mentally! You have to be able to visualise every aspect, particularly the perfect kite position from the start of a trick all the way through to the landing. Where to position your kite and where not, particularly for the landing, and always knowing where your kite is throughout the move, is crucial for not crashing.
But of course, when I try a new trick for the first time, I hit more because I still have to figure out what I must do to pull it off. When I know I will crash hard, I land like a diver who jumps from a great height, feet first. Tighten all your muscles, and most importantly, avoid landing on your side by all means. Landing sideways is how you break everything. Landing on your back is better than landing on your side.
»You have to be able to visualise every aspect of a trick all the way through to the landing. Always knowing where your kite is throughout the move, is crucial for not crashing.«
WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE FOR RIDERS WANTING TO GET MORE INTO BIG AIR RELATIVELY SAFELY AND CONTINUE TO PROGRESS WITH MINIMUM RISK LATER ON?
My best piece of advice is to start doing tricks in not too much wind. It might not sound like the greatest insight, but trust me, if you follow this advice, you will drastically reduce your risks.
The only way is lots and lots of practice and mental preparation. When I’m trying to learn a new trick, I just train and train. The beginning is always the hardest. Once I land a trick for the first time, I start to understand the ideal movement and kite position properly, and things become much easier..
WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE TRICK IN THE ACADEMY APP?
Honestly, I don't have a favourite trick in the App. I love it all! Everything is well explained in the Academy App for anybody, regardless of their favourite discipline or what they want to learn. The tutorial videos are awesome and incredibly helpful. Whatever level of kiteboarding you're at, you can learn anything from Freestyle, Wave riding and Big Air with the App!