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Name: Kris Kinn
Years kiting: 5
Favorite Spots: Hatteras, Cape Town, and Paros, Greece
Favorite Conditions: 20 knots side-shore, flat water, or a left break
Favorite Moves: Everything to blind
Sponsors: Best, Stribog, Rouge Wave, Lift, Triggernaut, Magic Swell
Boards: 133 Stribog Pro Model
Kites: Best Yargas 5, 7, 9, and 11 for freestyle/waves; 9 and 11 Waroos for course racing
Harness: Maui Magic Hana
1. Keep your body in shape with well rounded exercises besides kiting.
2. Stretching is very important; you’ll notice a difference right away and be less likely to injure yourself.
3. Stick to natural progression and don’t train for something you’re not ready for. Take it one step at a time.
4. When you are ready to train for handle passes, if it’s not coming together, don’t hold on. Let go of the bar!
Originally from Buffalo New York, Kris Kinn has been kiting for five years. For the past three years, she has been traveling the word teaching kiteboarding and training, and last year she was the only female from the U.S. to compete on the KPWT tour, finishing second overall.
When, where, and why did you start kiteboarding?
I was first introduced to the sport in 1999 when a group of my windsurfing friends from Buffalo were teaching themselves, but I never had the opportunity to learn until the summer of 2005. I just thought it looked so amazing and powerful, plus all the guys were doing it, so I had to try. After I started flying kites with my good friend and local shop owner Bill Myers, I was hooked! He took me down the East Coast to Dewey Beach and Cape Hatteras where I did my first downwinder at Planet of the Apes.
Have any other sports or disciplines helped influence your kiteboarding?
Definitely. I was a gymnast until I was fifteen and I also competed on the diving team in high school and college, so I think I’m very comfortable rotating in the air, and I’m not afraid to crash. I also loved to snowboard and wakeboard before I started kiting.
What standout features do you most appreciate about your current gear?
The 2010 Waroos go upwind like crazy and will be amazing kites for racing this year! The Yargas are simple four-line C-kites that rip for freestyle. They are so stable!
What do you do off the water to help you on the water?
I do Pilates and yoga, which work very well because you can do them anywhere. I also love to have a gym for free weight training, but most of the time that isn’t an option when I’m traveling so much.
What trick or style are you currently working on?
I compete in all three disciplines, and each one presents challenges. In freestyle I’m working on my air passes, which require strength and timing. For course racing, the board control has been difficult, and wave riding can be intimidating when the conditions vary so much.
What is your favorite style of riding and why?
I enjoy freestyle the most, because I love the variety of moves. There is nothing like the feeling of stomping a trick you‘ve been crashing over and over again.
Why are there so few Americans competing in the international tours?
I think it comes down to sponsorship really. It is not easy to travel overseas when the events are a month apart. If you have to fly home after every event or put yourself up somewhere to train in between it is expensive. Unfortunately, competition riders are becoming less and less valued so there is little support. Fortunately, I was lucky to have instructed in a few places to save up before the tour, and I also travel with a tent for cheap accommodations.
Why do you think the major competition tours don’t get very much attention in the US?
That’s a good question, because the first thing I would do when I picked up a magazine was flip through to see the dates, locations, and names in the ranking for every event. With other extreme sports, competition is huge and everybody knows when, where, and who is going to be there. It is a shame that most people can’t name the top five riders on either tour. Maybe we can change this with some more coverage in The Kiteboarder magazine.
How do you think competitions could be adjusted to attract more riders/spectators/followers?
Well, more prize money will attract more riders; that one is simple. I think more local promotion would attract spectators, and more media coverage in magazines, forums, and online news sites for kiting would attract more followers.
What is something about you that you do outside of kiteboarding that most people wouldn’t know?
I went to school for Geology, and I love analyzing rocks. Also, I now work as a deckhand on a 120’ motor yacht during the off season.
What is your worst wipe out/scariest kiteboarding experience?
When I was learning the s-bend to blind, I got the leash wrapped around my neck and it pulled me underwater for a bit before spinning me out. Luckily, I was fine besides a nasty burn on my neck that looked a lot worse than what it was.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the kiteboarding industry?
The biggest challenge will be getting everybody working together for the progression of the sport, and not simply for personal gain, which in the end would be beneficial to everyone.
What is your most memorable kiteboarding experience?
That would have to be coming home after two years of traveling and kiting at my local spot with all the guys who inspired me to get into this amazing sport.
What are your must-haves that you can’t live without?
Movies and chocolate! My laptop is pretty important too.
Any words of wisdom you want to share with our readers?
Don’t forget to enjoy the sport, whether it’s your first lesson or your hundredth failed attempt at the same trick! Be kind to your fellow kiter, you never know when you may need a hand or launch.