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Today, on the biggest day of the year, the 2012 Freestyle World Champion was decided, and what an incredible day it was. In fact, no one could have anticipated how close the final results would actually be – and this day went down in history, providing some of the most epic final battles ever witnessed.

While the wind looked lighter than expected in the morning, there was still just something something in the air that hinted at greatness. Some worried that the expected conditions would not materialize, but others remained confident that the battle for the title would continue on this last day at the REEF Kitesurf Pro. Finally, around 11am, the wish for wind came to fruition, and kites began to dance above the crystal blue water.

The early rounds of the double eliminations brought no huge surprises. Johnno Scholte (NED), Stefan Speissberger (AUT), an Michael Schitzhoffer (AUT) advanced, among others, and even the local rider, Michael Dinclaux went on to the next round.  Several close heats kept the focus on the beach, which only heightened the excited energy of the day.

The most intense action began with the incredible heat between Christophe Tack (BEL) and Alberto Rondina (ITA). Both men carried out a very strong battle. Tack hit a nice inverted Front Blind Mobe in the first half of his heat, followed by a high scoring Late Back Mobe, showing a Crow Mobe right before stomping a Slim. Rondina, on the other hand, rode powerful as always with a KGB grab, and an impressive Back Mobe as well as a Front Blind Mobe. Unfortunately for Rondina, he crashed some of his bigger tricks, and thus lost to Tack, who rode with greater consistency and executions.

Tack then went up against Marc Jacobs (NZE), and still opened up with some great maneuvers, especially considering that he had already competed in four heats. Considering this, Jacobs took the lead with a higher overall point score after nailing a Late Back Mobe and Slim 5, with 9 other solid tricks in his heat. While this ended Tack’s climb up the ladder, he demonstrated just how talented a rider he really is.

The women also put on an amazing performance, showcasing the highest level of kiting we have seen all year. During the semi-final heat, as the two familiar adversaries – Gisela Pulido (ESP) and Bruna Kajiya (BRA) – battled it out, it became clear that Kajiya was riding with greater consistency. Both competitors suffered a few crashes; however, Bruna’s 313 and S3 won out over Gisela’s Slim and 313.  They both attempted nine tricks, which ended in a 21.4- 12.8 point spread.

Now, after Jacobs’s last heat, he was obviously on fire, and he took this energy into his heat against Youri Zoon (NED). Both of these riders exhibit the same ‘go big or go home’ style, which favors strong wind and high-speed tricks. Going full out right from the start, Jacobs stomped a Late Back Mobe, Slim 5 grab, and S3. Zoon then answered back with a fluid Front Mobe, Slim 5, and Double Back Mobe, among others.  By the end of this heat, no one quite new who the winner would be, and by less than a point (42.57 – 41.72), Youri took the win.

The final women’s heat now took center stage, with Bruna Kajiya and Karolina Winkowska (POL) in an intense battle to the end. With sheer determination on their faces, they entered the water with complete focus and resolve. Kajiya opened up with a 313 and Winkowska responded with a 313 as well. Bruna seemed to hit more tricks straight off the start, while Winkowska built up her trick tally with an impressive Blind Judge 3 and huge S3. Kajiya even earned the highest scoring trick in this competition for the women, with a S3, scored at 7.03.

At the heat’s end, and with a point spread of 28.56 to 21.52, Winkowska came out victorious, claiming the World Championship title for 2012. Coming of the water with a huge smile and an unbelievable year behind her, Karolina seemed to be walking on air once notified of her win. Her spectacular performance earned her the deserved win for the women as she claimed this title for the first time ever. This was a big day for Karolina indeed.

With the men’s finals on deck, all of the suspense from the entire year could now be released on the water. The intensity was palpable, and the two most talented riders in the world – Alex Pastor (ESP) and Youri Zoon – were ready to focus all their energy, hard work, and training on this one, crucial and defining moment. Pastor initially came out strong, landing a nice KGB with a grab. Unfortunately, however, he struggled to get substantial points on the board, especially with his Front Blind Mobe, which he usually executes flawlessly. When Pastor finally did manage to stomp this trick, it was too late, as he had already used up all of his trick attempts.

Zoon was obviously determined to go into a super final to secure the world title.  He threw down a huge Shifty 5 and an impressive KGB with his kite very low. Riding with more consistency and power, along with higher scores on his standard tricks, Zoon was able to take the win and push the competition into a Super Final.

Now, for the men, the pressure was really on. Spectators on the beach and other riders almost fell silent as this momentous heat began. The judging panel looked on with stone cold faces and the fans held their breath in anticipation. This was it – what the entire year had led up to.

Pastor came in first, full speed with a KGB that didn’t go as well as planned, while Zoon came in right behind and stomped a big Blind Judge 3. Pastor then went on to execute a well-done Slim 5, yet Youri came through with a massive SH5, landing toeside. The heat continued on with each rider giving it their all. These two competitors went hard, charging all of their best tricks.  Pastor went on to do another grab KGB as he did in the first final and Zoon kept going big. Alex’s incredible Slim 7 warranted a huge applause from the crowd, as it’s one of Alex’s best tricks.  As the heat progressed, it became apparent that this would be a very close heat. No one could tell who was winning, and nearly every trick seen on the water was big, fast, and impressive.

Finally, the heat came to an end, and while both riders performed incredibly well – showing the world exactly why they are the two fiercest competitors in the world – Youri Zoon barely came out ahead by just .16 points (45.32 – 45.16). What an incredible and unbelievable show it was! No one could have expected such a close and action packed finale. Many commented that this was the most intense heat ever witnessed, and Zoon – the 2012 World Champion – was ecstatic to claim his title.

Speaking of his huge win, Zoon explained, “ In my first heat against Marc, we were both exploding with power and in the end I just won by .4 of a point, so I was really happy to keep my 2nd place and still be in the race for the world title. Then I came against Alex and yeah, he is an amazing rider and he’s riding phenomenal in almost every single condition. To ride against him in the final again was something special but I knew that I had to win, so I was giving everything that I had that I could do in those conditions.  In the end it turned out to be off by just 0.2 points which is almost nothing.”

After this incredible display of kiting action, the riders joined the fans at the awards ceremony, where the winners of the event and of the Word Titles were crowned. Even the winners of the Big Air competition were present to accept their congratulations. Here, the most talented men and women in the sport stood tall, accepting their awards and taking in this final moment of the 2012 PKRA World Tour Season. What an incredible season it was.

The PKRA would like to congratulate all the riders on a banner season, and especially the newly crowned 2012 World Champions – Youri Zoon and Karolina Winkowska!