After an epic 11 hours of competition on Wednesday, all streamed live and available to play back, the GKA Freestyle World Cup’s new format of riders having just one minute to perform each of their six trick attempts, helped the contest fly by.
The format works with each rider in the heat taking turns to do their tricks one at a time and a big screen on the beach lets them know their score and what they need on their next attempt to move ahead of other riders.
It’s an exciting format that focusses on highlighting rider skill with little room for error. A timer on the big screen on the beach also shows the minute countdown that each rider has for their tricks.
How did they end the men’s last quarter final heat of the day? Speechless, that’s how. Bebe got another score close to a ten! 9.73 for a heart attack 7 that would have exploded everyone else’s knees.
“You just can’t be that good!” screamed Lewis Crathern down the livestream! It seems he can! In truth Carlos Mario hadn’t had the best day, starting his first heat with close to, if not his lowest ever heat score. He also hadn’t started his quarter final well at all. But the four time World Champion suddenly clicked into gear at this first event of the season and notched two incredible high nine point scores, for the aforementioned heart attack 7 and 9.6 for backside 317.
Past champions Liam Whaley and Alex Pastor are both through. Alex was particularly stoked to make the semis after a very slow start. Liam ended up cruising through his quarter final, looking very good with a massive heat score of 28.23. Maxime Chabloz joined him in second in that heat with 26.6. Two huge 317s from both riders were their biggest scores: 8.13 for Chabloz and 8.63 for Liam. Bosh.
Anthar Racca finished with a really impressive quarter final tally of 26.86. The heat before fellow teen sensation, Valentin Rodriguez, got just a little more, with 26.87! Tight from the young guns and they are both looking capable to push for the win on Thursday.
Carlos Mario eventually blew all away in terms of heat scores with his 32.43 quarter final score. Freak show in France! But it should be noted, that by that time, Carlos had switched to a 12 metre kite and was perfectly powered. The wind had been gusting over 30 knots prior to that.
Valentin Rodriguez is a name to remember – the 16 year-old Colombian rode to such a consistently high standard all day, and landed the only 319. A trick you can usually only expect to see in perfect flat water!
The women’s final is going to be tight based on what we saw on Wednesday. Firstly, Mikaili Sol faultered for the first time we’ve seen in her competition career and literally scraped through her semi-final. She needed to land her last trick just to qualify for the final after a tumultuous heat that for most of it she spent trading bottom position with Bruna Kajiya, who was ejected from the competition in that heat when Bagnoli and Sol went through! Unheard of.
Pippa van Iersal and Francesca Bagnoli were the peak female performers of the day, both reaching over 20 points with seeming ease and dealing with some hard landings in some super challenging conditions. The wind often seemed to pick up and go beyond 30 knots whenever the women’s heats took to the water! These two stepped up beyond any other female rider.
Stay tuned for finals!
MEN’S SEMI-FINAL 1
Maxime Chabloz (SWI)
Alex Pastor (SPN)
Valentin Rodriguez (COL)
Anthar Racca (MEX)
MEN’S SEMI-FINAL 2
Set Teixeira (BRA)
Gianmaria Coccoluto (ITA)
Liam Whaley (SPN)
Carlos Mario (BRA)
Mikaili Sol (BRA)
Claudia Leon (SPN)
Pippa van Iersel (NED)
Francesca Bagnoli (ITA)