Incredible start into the new freestyle season!

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It was a slow start to the GKA Freestyle World Cup in Leucate due to lack of conditions. With teasing moments of contestable winds coming through at times, the decision was made to relocate the event to another spot called Port Leucate. Just 20 minutes south of Le Franque, the unobstructed exposure to the wind allowed riders to make the most out of the southerly winds and right foot kickers.

The hard work and efforts from the GKA organisation paid off and the rounds got underway in nuclear winds.

The Duotone Freestyle Team proved unstoppable, with 6 riders making up the 8 finalists. Here we catch up with queen of the competition Francesca Bagnoli, runners up Mika, Claudia and Pippa, as well as Gianmaria, Val and Stefan.

For the full report head on over to the GKA website.

 

 

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1st Place - Francesca Bagnoli

The first 5 days were hard as there was no wind - not great for the competition - but there’s always a great vibe between the riders and we always have a good time together.

In the end, the GKA organisation relocated the event to a different spot and I was super impressed with how well they did it. Once the competition was underway, the biggest challenge I had in this new spot was my kite size. In the final I was  so overpowered and quite scared. My smallest kite was a 7m and that’s what the guys were riding, overpowered! All the girls were on 5m and 6m. There was nothing I could do though, so I turned to the fine-tuning options on the Vegas. Changing my setup to the high depower settings  turned out to be the winning formula.

As always in competition there are high and low moments. I struggled in round 2 after my second trick. I was going out to the right but looking behind me at the score board. I hit the wave and anchored in my boots fully stretched out. The pain was awful, I was crying, I thought the ligaments in my knee were damaged. I got off the water as soon as possible.

After a few minutes the pain went away. I knew I had to get back out there and finish the heat. Thankfully it was nothing serious, just the shock of the crash. My best moment in was in the finals. I tried an S-Mobe and landed it. I was stoked! Finishing in 1st place is just a good feeling.

2nd Place - Mikaili Sol

I did my best in the event and I’m happy with 2nd place. I think we all struggled with the conditions.  The chop and waves made it really hard to relaunch if you crashed your kite in the water so you had to be on it. I didn’t really have a ‘best’ moment, the entire competition was super fun. But if I had to pick one, it would be the first heat. Leucate was the first comp of the season. Getting in the water and feeling the adrenaline again is always a good feeling. In my 2nd heat I felt so much pressure it was overwhelming. I found it so hard to keep myself together. I got over it and tried to do my best, but it wasn’t easy. Thankfully it was enough to take me through to the finals. As it was so windy, I rode the 5m DICE almost all of the time, sometimes the 6m. It wasn’t great using a model that I was unfamiliar with. That said, I think if I had trained on the DICE before I would have done way better. Let’s see what happens in at the next event.

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3rd Place - CLAUDIA LEON

The event was crazy! The new location came with really tough conditions but we had to get on with it and be the best all-round rider possible. Competitions can be testing and it’s not always fun, but us girls always come together and enjoy whatever’s thrown at us.

I used a 7m and then 8m when the wind dropped. Having all the settings on the Vegas was great. With high winds and choppy water, the Team Series performed so well.

4th Place - PIPPA VAN IERSEL

The event was organised really well and it was cool how they moved to a different sport so easily. The winds were super strong and I rode a 6m for the first time ever which was pretty scary, but the Duotone Team were so supportive, it’s great to be part of it. My highlight was in the semi finals. The wind kicked in and my big air experience delivered the goods. It was such a good result for the Duotone women’s team, a full podium.

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3RD PLACE - VALENTIN RODRIGUEZ

I'm a newcomer compared to the other riders so I just took things as they came. The conditions were tough but we all had the same struggles. It made things interesting! I'm really happy with 3rd place and am looking forward to seeing how the next event goes. It's going to be an exciting season. 

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4th Place - GIANMARIA COCCOLUTO

I trained a lot for this event over the winter in Tarifa, Dhaka and Boniare. Leucate was a really hard comp with 35/40knots of wind. I had two really good heats against tough competitors and I made it through to the semi finals. From there on, the wind picked up a lot and was crazy strong, but I still managed to land some good tricks and make it into the finals where I rode a 6m VEGAS! I was super stoked to finish in the 4th place, but missed out on the podium by 0,2. Let’s see how the next event goes.

9th Place - STEFAN SPIESSBERGER

We were all curious to see how the event would be after changing to the GKA. It was a really great outcome and awesome to have the heads of the organisation there. Leucate has been a regular sport on the event calendar and it’s always run well. The forecast wasn’t great so the competition spot was moved; such a good decision. That said, I’ve never experienced such hardcore wind and water environments. I landed some good tricks went to the quarter finals. Competing against Valentine Garat in the semis was cool, but it didn’t go my way. I was disappointed that I missed out on advancing, but with such inconsistent conditions luck was a big part of it. I’m looking forward to the next event.

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13th Place - VAL GARAT

This event is really cool for me as it’s near my home town. It makes me proud to have such an incredible competition in France. Unfortunately we didn’t have the trade Tramontana winds and I think everyone found this really challenging. Having the gear to take on the conditions is great. I had my VEGAS on the slow settings and the stability is was so good.