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Slalom Racers Go Big in Austria

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Brian Lake and Katja Roose successfully maintained their PKRA slalom rankings in Podersdorf, Austria this week after a total of seven races.

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In strong winds, one race was run on the final day of the event, adding one more day of action to the line-up.  The conditions were extreme for slalom racing averaging 39 knots and gusting higher at times, and many riders were a bit apprehensive to compete in such intense winds.  At the 9:30 am rider’s meeting, the decision was made to postpone the start to see if the wind would drop as was expected.

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At 12:00 pm, the PKRA freestyle riders and some of the slalom competitors went out for a big air show.  Treating the spectators to some massive jumps and serious hang time were Mario Rodwald, Michael Shitzhofer, Stefan Spiessberger, and Ariel Corniel, who executed some dramatic front flip kite loops 20 meters high in the air to the amazement of the crowd.

With a 1:00 pm start, the first qualifying heats of race #7 got underway in winds averaging 26 knots gusting to 35. The final day’s course had longer legs and only two buoys to be rounded before the finish.  The shorter course made the start and speed on the straight legs crucial throughout the day.

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In an exciting men’s final race #7, the tightly packed fleet of nine riders made an exciting sprint to the first mark. From the beach, spectators could clearly see the intensity of the race as the riders bounced kites and lifted their kites aggressively vying to reach the buoy first.

At the mark, it was Julian Kerneur taking the hole shot on his 4m kite. In a dramatic race to the second buoy, Ozzy Smith, Marvin Baumeister, and Corniel were on the edge of control trying to pass Kerneur who faltered for a moment, allowing Corniel to take over the first position, rounding the mark first.  With Smith and Kerneur unable to catch up on the mad dash for the finish, it was Corniel taking the win.

The women’s final was equally exciting and the six competing women were clearly hungry to win. Boenniger made it to the mark first followed by Roose, Barbara Stechauner, and Bibiana Magaji close behind.  Aggressively bearing off the wind, the women battled to catch up as Boenniger managed to maintain a half a line length lead from the rest of the pack, maintaining first to the finish.  As Roose was out of the game going off course, it was a drag race to the finish in the battle for second and third as Stechauner blasted from third spot, hooking across the finish line at the buoy to steal second from Magaji, who took a straight line to cross the finish line in third.

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Following the end of the race, an awards ceremony was held in front of the crowd acknowledging the freestyle riders for their amazing shows and awarding the top finishers from the slalom race.

The burgeoning discipline of Slalom offered thrilling racing action for competitors and spectators alike. The first slalom stop of the 2014 PKRA Tour saw a great variety of conditions. With a friendly atmosphere, hospitable attitude, and festive beach culture in Podersdorf, the PKRA and competitors certainly hope for a return to the Surf World Cup in 2015.

2014 PKRA Austria-Surf World Cup Winners

Slalom Men

1st – Brian Lake (USA)
2nd – Julien Kerneur (FRA)
3rd – Ozzy Smith (RSA)

Slalom Women

1st – Katja Roose (NED)
2nd – Bibiana Magaji (SVK)
3rd – Christine Boenniger (GER)

For a complete list of standings, visit the PKRA website at www.prokitetour.com

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