A few weeks back, we caught up with Chris Bobryk, team rider at Best Kiteboarding and the only US American participating in the freestyle discipline of the Pro Kite Tour (PKRA) this year, to get his perspective on the differences between kiteboarding competitions in the US and abroad. Below is his take on going global.
photo by Alex Neto

photo by Alex Neto

You’re the only US American on the PKRA tour this year for freestyle. How were you selected? What was the process like?Yes, I was the only US American to compete in the PKRA in the Freestyle discipline. With the support of BEST kiteboarding, I decided to try a few stops on the PKRA after competing in U.S. events like Bridge Of The Gods and training all winter in Brazil, Australia, Panama, and the Turks and Caicos. There is no selection process for a PKRA event. You show up and then there are trials to eliminate riders on-site after registration. Only 24 riders advance into the main event.

Are there noticeable differences between riding styles in Europe and the US?

The US style of riding is different than the European style of riding. Here in the US, many of the top riders focus on sliders and rails and do more tricks with grabs and rotate less and land blind, compared to the European riding style where riders are much more likely to get another rotation and do an air pass which in turn may score them more points in a contest. Both the US and European riders are focused on riding powered, with the kite low — emphasizing the wakestyle side of the sport.

photo by Alex Neto

photo by Alex Neto

Many of our readers have never experienced a European kite competition as big or as well-developed as a PKRA event. What were some of the key differences you noticed between kite comps in the US and the PKRA event in Fuerteventura? 

Kite competitions in the US are much smaller and there is not as much money on the line as in a PKRA event. The US competitions are almost as much about the collection of media (like photos and video) as it is about winning. Another major difference is that there is a tour that tallies up all events during the season in Europe, where we only have a few individual events and no overall “American Champion”. 

How many more events will you participate in this year, and where will they take you? 

This year I competed in Italy, Germany and Fuerteventura. I plan to go to Brazil and South Africa to train for a few months. I’ll have to see how I feel after that before I decide to compete in another event this season. 

Would you encourage other US riders to participate in PKRA events in the future? If so, why? 

The PKRA world tour judging encourages powered “wakestyle” riding. There are a number of American riders that are pushing wakestyle, so it would make sense for them to try it out — just to see where they stand at an international level. 

After a strong first appearance on tour — where will you focus your training efforts for the next event? 

All three competitions on tour made it apparent that I need to work on my light wind riding. In Italy and Germany there were very light winds and I was knocked out pretty quickly. In Fuerteventura, there were much stronger winds (about 15-45kts). I was able to do well and make it to the top 24, but I also lost some very close heats in the end and wasn’t able to make the top nine.

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