GIANMARIA FOR THE WIN AT THE GKA QATAR
A Freestyle Kite World Cup, Fuwairit, Qatar!
The brand new purpose-built Fuwairit Kite beach resort, in Qatar, played host to round one of the Qatar Airways GKA Kite World Tour Freestyle Division 2023. Delivering world-class flat-water conditions, the amazing shallow water lagoon right outside the resort, was a worthy location to kick off this year’s world title campaigns for the best freestyle riders in the world.
With this being the first event of 2023, some adjustments to the freestyle judging format were introduced with some technical adaptations to the trick families as well as the addition of a variety score. Aiming to increase the competitive excitement by helping to inspire new tricks and allowing the riders more freedom to add extra flow to their heat performances, everyone was pumped to show off what they had all trained for in the off-season.
For our two GKA Freestyle World Champions from 2022, Gianmaria Coccoluto (ITA) and Mikaili Sol (BRA), this event in Fuwairit marked the beginning of the defence of their titles.
With a reduced number of competitors — 16 men and eight women — the men started directly with the quarter-finals and the women in the semis, which also meant there were no second chances.
The women fought through a sandstorm in the first semi-final heat, with Nathalie Lambrecht (SWE) finishing with the highest heat score of the day, landing tricks from four different families for an overall score of 28.67.
Semi-final heat number two was dominated by Mikaili Sol (BRA) and Claudia Leon (ESP), with both advancing to the final.
In the men’s quarter-finals, reigning World Champion Gianmaria Coccoluto stomped out an epic performance, as the only rider to collect all seven variety points on offer, after landing a front blind mobe, backside 315, crowmobe 5 and KGB 5 as his four highest scoring tricks which were all from different trick families.
In the semis, 2019 World Champion Valentin Rodriguez (COL) followed Gianmaria’s example, scoring the full 7 points for variety across four trick families — Backmobe 5, KGB 7, crow mobe 5 and backside 317 — which secured him a spot in the final.
»"EVERYONE WAS PUMPED TO SHOW OFF WHAT THEY HAD ALL TRAINED FOR IN THE OFF-SEASON"«
Gianmaria Coccoluto (ITA) in true World Champion form, undoubtedly showed the best adaptation of the new format in his semi-final heat. Upgrading his tricks with nose and tail grabs as he styled through his heat as well as pulling off some epic trick combinations and covering five different trick families, he was catapulted clearly into the final.
The women’s final was a battle for the ages. 3x World Champion Bruna Kajiya (BRA) and reigning champion Mikaili Sol (BRA) were ruling the heat, whilst Nathalie Lambrecht (SWE) and Claudia Leon (ESP) fought hard for third and fourth. Securing the highest score of the heat with an 8.07 for a massive slim 5, Mika was on fire, however, Bruna ultimately clinched the win.
Also in the men’s, it was a tight, suspense-packed battle with all four finalists — Louka Pitot (FRA) / Carlos Mario (BRA) / Valentin Rodriguez (COL) / Gianmaria Coccoluto (ITA) — giving everything. There was no room for errors and the atmosphere was intense. Gianmaria Coccoluto (ITA) and Carlos Mario (BRA) kept their nerves, playing their cards perfectly and putting on an amazing performance.
In the end, it was reigning World Champion Gianmaria Coccoluto (ITA) who triumphed winning the event ahead of Carlos Mario (BRA) in second, Louka Pitot (FRA) in third and Valentin Rodriguez (COL) in fourth.
What a start to the year! Congratulations to everyone for going so hard and delivering such an incredible show.