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Copa Kitley GKA Freestyle Kite World Cup Brazil - Day 1

by Jim Gaunt 11 Nov 2022 03:49 PST 8-12 November 2022

We always wondered just how good the performances and action could be when the world's best freestyle kiters were pitted against each other in conditions that are about as perfect as you can get.

The final freestyle stop of the Qatar Airways GKA Kite World Tour season got off to an incredible start on day one.

There's no forgetting that there's a world title up for grabs, with Manoel Soares and Mikaili Sol in the driving seats for the male and female titles respectively, but it feels like we're in for a real festival of pure freestyle this week in Brazil.

The women were released for the day and we started with the men. In contention for the title are Manoel Soares (tour leader) who is followed by Gianmaria Coccoluto, Juan Rodriguez, Carlos Mario and Arthur Guillebert. Read more about the scenarios for claiming the men's and women's titles here.

The men took centre stage on day one with all eyes on the five title contenders and notorious Brazilian wildcards who were in action in round three.

The contest would reach no further than round three on this first day, so no riders would be leaving the competition, but with riders competing at one of their favourite training grounds in the world, there was still so much psychology at play.

It didn't take long for the conditions to show their worth and for the competition firsts to start dropping.

Chasing down the title in second position, Gianmaria Coccoluto blew the doors wide open in the first heat of round three with the highest heat score of the season so far.

Perfect conditions and a rider in the form of his life - that combination just doesn't get any better and he smashed his way up to 34.03 points from his four counting tricks.

For the first time ever in competition the Italian landed a front blind mobe 5. A score of 9.83 popped up from the judges, the highest trick score of the day and as near perfect as you could ever hope to see.

Among other riders to make the history books for being the first to land tricks in competition, were Valentin Rodriguez for his KGB 5 mummy wrapped landing and then, perhaps the most notable rider of the day for his unique approach, was the UK's Tom Bridge.

Inspired by these ideal conditions to make a return to competition, Tom's round three heat was packed with competition firsts and real innovation.

Maybe his blind and toeside take-offs don't allow for the absolute amplitude and powerful low kite angle that this judging format requires, but manoeuvres like his blind front blind mobe and his general display of fluidity showed that he's here to make a statement that's all about style.

Tom finished second to Posito Martinez in heat 3, but visually, the Brit was no doubt a standout of the day.

Getting down to business

However, when it came to the real business, tour leader Manoel Soares played his cards carefully, doing only what was necessary to win his heat. Reaching the semi-finals will be enough to give the Brazilian his first world title here on home soil, and it would truly mean so much.

In winning his round three heat, he's bypassed round four and is directly into the quarter finals, where one of the three riders he'll face in that heat will be none other than Gianmaria Coccoluto!

If the Brazilian gets through that one... he's into the semi-finals and world champion.

Hot on his heels and winning their round three heats, were indeed fellow title contenders, Juan Rodriguez, Carlos Mario and Arthur Guillebert. Plus, almost inevitably, one of this lagoon's biggest fans was cranking out tricks with bags of style and double-grab control - Maxime Chabloz, who said on the stream that it's "simply a dream to have a competition here."

The lagoon is certainly living up to the hype, and we are only just beginning!

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