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GWA Wingfoil World Cup Leucate, Day 4 - Surf-Freestyle world champions defend their titles

by Holly Keenan 11 Apr 07:19 PDT 6-14 April 2024

As dawn broke on day four of the GWA Wingfoil World Cup Leucate we were greeted by golden rays and tramontane winds, promising another day of thrilling competition.

The riders and crew made their way down to the competition zone on the very unconventional mode of transport: a tractor ride.

Womens Semi-finals kicks off

The Surf-Freestyle women geared up to face the tough conditions head on, ready to battle it out on the water.

In the women's semi-final we had Mar de Arce (ESP) putting on an amazing show for the crowds landing a very impressive Frontside 3 Combo scoring a 7.67. Mar was going nearly twice as big as her competitors showing that she is one to watch for the future events. It was a close battle for second between Sofia Marchetti (ITA) and previous world champion Bowien van der linden (NER), but Marchetti managed to take the second-place spot and secure her place in the final.

In the women's second semi-final Christina König from Germany landed an innovative Toeside frontside 360 and but she could not match the Spanish shredder Nia Suardiaz who took the win in the second semi-final heat.

Suardiaz scores a new backflip combo

Suardiaz kicked off the final round with her iconic inverted Backflip, instantly setting a high bar for her competitors. In response, Mar de Arce showcased an impressive combination topped with a graceful Toeside Frontside 3. Despite Arce's efforts, it wasn't enough to dethrone the unbeaten Suardiaz, who nailed a Backflip 360 combination. Nia emerged triumphant once more, claiming the title in the GWA Surf-Freestyle category at the Mondial du Vent.

We had a moment with Nia to discuss her feelings about securing her first event victory of the year.

"I'm super happy to take the win here in Leucate, I didn't come to this event with high expectations. I haven't had that much time to train freestyle as I have had to study a lot this year. However, I was super motivated to come here and do my best and I'm happy I got a new trick the backflip combo."

Women's finals

    1. Nia Suardiaz (ESP)
    2. Mar de Arce (ESP)
    3.Sofia Marchetti (ITA)
    4.Christina Konig (GER)

Frenchies on fire in the semi's

As the Tramontana winds reached their peak strength the male riders fuelled up for the semi-finals and prepared themselves to battle it out in these epic conditions.

In the day's first men's semi-final, Noé Cuyala of France emerged victorious, flawlessly executing his hallmark Frontside 1080, securing his first semi-final victory, and earning a place in his final.

Hot on his heels was fellow Frenchman, the young Axel Gerard (FR), who nailed an impressive frontflip 360, ensuring his advancement to the men's Surf-Freestyle Finals

The competition was intense in the second semi-final heat, with French competitor Bastien Escofet (FRA) elevating the game with his sky-high backflip grabs. However, he fell short against the skill and prowess of Malo Guenole (FRA) and Chris MacDonald (USA), both of whom delivered exceptional performances, setting a high bar for the competition.

Final showdown

The shores were lined with spectators eagerly awaiting an electrifying surf-freestyle finals showdown among the riders.

Malo Guénolé started the heat well with a stylish backmobe showing his power and style. But unfortunately, the Frenchman could not keep his level and crashed his four other attempts.

The fifteen-year-old French rider Axel Gerard managed to take third place in the finals. He put on an amazing show with a powerful Frontflip frontside 360 combo. This was his first ever finals and I'm sure we will be seeing a lot more from this rider in the future.

Cuyala also had an incredible heat landing one of the biggest frontside 1080s we have seen all competition. Cuyala put on a showstopping performance landing all his tricks with perfect execution and height.

Men's final

    1. Christopher Macdonald (USA)
    2. Noé Cuyala (FRA)
    3. Axel Gerard (FRA)
    4. Malo Guénolé (FRA)

Christopher the king of combos

But it was Chris MacDonald who stole the show scoring a perfect 10 for a huge frontflip into three consecutive front 360 rotations. MacDonald once again proved he is the champion, exiting the water with dry hair and a top heat score of the competition at 29 points. In the end it was Macdonald who claimed the win here at the Mondial du Vent.

"I'm super happy about my score, I've been training the combos in Hood River so I'm stoked to see them work out in competition. It was a really knarly competition with over 50 knot gusts in the finals, I've struggled with this event over the past few years but it feels really good to be on top now."

FreeFly-Slalom The FreeFly Slalom competition kicked off with two exhilarating elimination rounds. In the men's division, Alessandro Tomassi from Italy clinched the victory in the first elimination, narrowly edging out Bastien Escofet from France, who took a close second.

Escofet, determined for redemption, returned in the subsequent elimination rounds with a fierce performance that secured him the top spot.

On the women's side, Nia Suardiaz demonstrated her versatility and dominance not just in Surf-Freestyle but also in Freefly Slalom by winning both the first and second eliminations. Her performance underscored her exceptional skills across different disciplines.

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