Francesca Bagnoli World Tour Comeback
Francesca has been a staple on the Duotone Kiteboarding International team for quite some time. She made an impact on the freestyle circuit for many years, regularly claiming podium finishes and always doing so with humility, tenacity, and a huge smile on her face. She is a rider who knows the definition of hard work and also one who doesn’t take herself too seriously. We were thrilled to see Francesca back on the world tour and, true to form, finding success! We caught up with the comeback Queen after her fourth-place finish at the GKA Copa Kitely World Cup event in Brazil.
YOU’VE RECENTLY RETURNED TO THE FREESTYLE WORLD TOUR WITH YOUR DEBUT IN BACARES, FRANCE, WHERE YOU FINISHED WITH AN ASTONISHING 3RD PLACE PODIUM. BEFORE THAT, IT HAD BEEN A MINUTE SINCE YOU’VE COMPETED. CAN YOU START OFF BY TELLING US WHEN YOU WERE LAST ON TOUR?
The last time I was on tour was in 2018. Then I did a couple of stops in 2019 but then I had to stop due to physical problems. It feels like yesterday, but it was already 5 years ago. TIME FLIES!!!
WHY THE LONG BREAK?
I suffered from bad back pain, and it lasted 3 and a half years. I couldn’t do freestyle the way I wanted and tried to switch to wave riding, but it was even worse. I saw many physiotherapists, did a thousand massages, and did 3 MRIs, but they couldn’t find anything. It looked like my back was fine, but in the morning, I couldn’t even stand up from the bed properly. It was frustrating not knowing what to do to get better as I didn’t know what my real problem was.
I started to think that maybe I should have made my back stronger and built muscles.. and this is exactly what I did. I started lifting weights, doing more foam rollers, and stretching instead of yoga. One day in June after 3 years, I was at home, and my favourite wind was blowing. I decided to go for a freestyle session, and when I entered the water, I found out that the back pain was completely gone. I couldn’t believe it.
From there, my passion for kiteboarding lit up again and now I’m enjoying it even more than before. I feel like I’m having a second chance with this amazing sport, and I’m not going to waste this opportunity life gave to me.
»From there, my passion for kiteboarding lit up again and now I’m enjoying it even more than before. I feel like I’m having a second chance with this amazing sport, and I’m not going to waste this opportunity life gave to me.«
WHILE YOU HAVEN’T COMPLETED ALL THE TOUR STOPS THIS YEAR, YOU HAVE PULLED ON A LYCRA A FEW TIMES IN THE INTERIM. HOW DID THESE EVENTS GO FOR YOU? DID THEY KEEP YOUR APPETITE ALIVE FOR COMPETITION?
At the moment, I can only train during the summertime because I work from October to June. I went to France in August and got 3rd. I couldn’t believe that. The truth is that the spot looked like my home spot, and all I thought about was having a session in my home town… but it paid off!!!
Brazil was a very special one to me. Due to my job, I went there just 3 days before the comp and had little time to train. I know I still don’t have all my big old tricks back in my pocket (give me some time, and I promise I’ll be back ), but I told myself I had to go huge. And this is what I did. I was enjoying my time in the water so much, and it was way different from all the other comps I’ve done in my entire kiteboarder career. My legs weren’t shaking at all, and I couldn’t wait for my turn to perform my trick. This strategy paid off. I got into the final and ended up fourth. Even if I wasn’t on the podium, I was so happy with my performance, and now l can’t wait to train more to be ready for next year.
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO IN THE MEANTIME (DURING YOUR BREAK FROM FULL-TIME COMPETING)?
I’m working at home. I’m a personal trainer. I also work with elderly people and with people with mental disabilities. They are my little angels.
HOW HAVE YOU BEEN PREPARING FOR THIS RETURN?
Since home is not very windy, I’m working hard in the gym with my coach, Paolo Cristofani, and I have to say that he helped me a lot to switch my mind and to be physically ready for kiteboarding in general. When it’s windy, I take my Vegas and team series and go to my home spot, trying to make the best out of my session.
YOU MENTIONED THAT YOU PLAN TO COMPETE IN THE FINAL TOUR STOP OF 2023. WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO TRAIN FOR THE EVENT?
Due to work, I cannot make it to the final tour stop. I feel so lucky that I could go to the Brazilian stop already. But Qatar is close, and I can’t leave everything at home once again.
ANY PLANS FOR 2024?
Yes!!!! I want to plan everything down to the last detail because I would like to do the whole freestyle tour. To get ready, I would like to escape to Sicily every time it’s windy and every time it’s possible. Then, for sure, I’ll be back in Egypt onboard with Egypsy kite wanderlust for a kite safari for one or two weeks.
»And then we’ll see! I actually can’t wait for 2024 to start!!«
HUGE CONGRATULATIONS TO FRANCESCA; WE CAN’T WAIT FOR WHAT SHE HAS IN STORE FOR US IN THE UPCOMING SEASON!