EVENT STATUS: Approaching finals on Thursday! FIRST POSSIBLE START ON THURSDAY: 09.30am - it's the final day. LIVESTREAM: Will play here.
1). GKA Freestyle World Cup Leucate 2019 - Day 5
11 HOURS LATER...
Wednesday, 23rd April 2019
Words: Jim Gaunt
We're set to see the men's semi finals and women's finals in GKA Freestyle World Cup Leucate explode on the last event day on Thursday!
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)
2). The decision to move location 20 minutes south from La Franqui to Port Leucate to take advantage of an easterly facing beach for the southerly winds really paid off! / Svetlana Romantsova
After an epic 11 hours of competition on Wednesday, all streamed live and available to play back (here & here), 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.
3). Peaking in the quarter finals, after a very sluggish start, Carlos Mario hit his imperious best with two nines to totally nail on his position in Thursday's semis / Photo: Svetlana Romantsova
How did we 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.
4). Liam Whaley - on form and landed a near perfect heart attack 7 according to head judge Mallory de la Villemarque / Photo: Svetlana Romantsova
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.
5). Anthar Racca / Photo: Svetlana Romantsova
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.
6). Valentin Rodriguez / Photo: Svetlana Romantsova
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.
7). Pippa van Iersel / Photo: Svetlana Romantsova
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.
8). Heats were often decided by the last trick - exciting stuff! / Photos: Svetlana Romantsova
There really were so many good performances packed into the day, and you can find the story of EVERY heat broken down here on the website.
GKA Freestyle World Cup Leucate | Big Day of Action Day 5
See you for the finals!