When it comes to big air megaloops infused with technical board-offs, Polish rider Janek Grzegorzewski has been pushing the boundaries of style and innovation. To help us understand the learning curve, Janek breaks down his kiteloop training into a series of simple binary decisions.
Every kiteloop session starts with the conditions. My progression sessions always happen in medium-strength wind where I can experiment with timing and new tricks. If it’s heaving 40-knot survival conditions then the goal is to go high and stay alive. Sometimes the high-wind sessions can get scary, depending on the kite’s position and how fast I can recover from the loop’s pull and set up a clean landing. Sometimes a crash is inevitable, and then the goal is to get into the best impact position possible.
When you are doing your first kiteloops, you will want to ride underpowered in predictable winds, beginning with a smaller kite size that turns in a tighter steering arc. Start with some low jumps, less than 3-feet off the water so you can land no matter where the kite ends up in the wind window. These low altitude, underpowered kiteloops will help you to get a sense of how the kite pulls. After you gain some confidence, then you can work your way up to higher jumps and bigger kites with more power.
The first step in a kiteloop is to get a clean takeoff by sending your kite up into the window like a regular jump. If my takeoff is good and my body position feels balanced, then I will start thinking about initiating the loop on my way up. If the takeoff isn’t quite right, then I don’t pull the trigger.
One of the most important decisions is deciding when to initiate the kiteloop. For your initial low altitude attempts, don’t wait to loop the kite. On big air sends, begin the kiteloop at the end of your jump’s upward pull for easier, more controlled loops. As you feel the vertical pull slowing, this is the time to initiate a tight kiteloop; the earlier you initiate the kiteloop the harder the pull.
As you begin to experiment with more power in your loops or integrate mid-air rotations, it’s important to stay balanced and in control. The best way to keep your balance is to compact your core by bringing your feet up into your chest in a squat position. This won’t earn you any style points, but it will provide stability and help you while learning new tricks and recovering from off-balance situations.
When you want to start integrating board-offs into your kiteloops, make sure you have regular board-off airs on lockdown. Practice taking your board off your feet and reconnecting with your foot straps as fast as possible during regular jumps first. For this trick, you’ll need to get used to looping the kite with only one hand on the bar, so starting with one-footers will help in the transition before committing to a full board-off.
Finally, if you get off balance during the loop or you’re not lined up for a clean landing, it’s best to make a good impact plan. If I’m high enough I will ditch my board and try to penetrate the water cleanly, but if that’s not the case, then I try to land with my board hitting the water first, keeping my legs loose to absorb some of the impact before rolling over into a ball to brace for the remainder of the crash.
This article was featured in our winter 2022 issue, Vol. 18, No. 4. To read more, click here.
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