Red Bull King Of The Air Finals – Full Report!
After waiting seemingly forever, the Cape Doctor finally showed up in Cape Town to deliver the goods and allow the protracted event to draw to a close. After running out of wind and light yesterday (read the report here) the decision was made to re-run the completed semi final and the abandoned semi final today with stronger winds.
It was tough for Jesse Richman and Ruben Lenten who had already celebrated getting into the finals yesterday, but it did give the spectators a chance to see the riders performing in some strong winds. Aaron Hadlow was actually booked to fly home today as technically the waiting period for the event finished yesterday. Credit to the organisers for thinking outside of the box and allowing the event to carry on and giving it the send off it really deserved!
Unlike yesterday where the winds were light and very marginal, today provided us with a solid 30knots and some decent gusts too, everything was set to be a cracker! The first semi final saw Kevin Langeree, Ruben Lenten, Jesse Richman and Nick Jacobsen take to the water. It was an interesting prospect with Ruben’s powerful kiteloops going against the more airstyle trickery of the other riders.
Jesse Richman came out of the gate firing and all the riders went huge on their first jumps, instantly you could tell it was going to be a tough one for the judges to call. Perhaps the greatest thing was that the riders were at last powered up. It was a far cry from yesterday’s semi final and it cemented the organisers’ correct decision to re-run the heat.
Kevin Langeree went absolutely huge early on in the heat despite his injured hand and was looking hungry for the win with lots of board-offs and big kite loops. Nick Jacobsen was also making the most of wearing footstraps and had plenty of variety to all of his jumps; his kite loops were looking strong too. Ruben Lenten meanwhile was going bat sh*t crazy as usual and looked to be doing really well until he had a second serious crash. Coming in really hot from a huge kiteloop he literally exploded on impact with the water. He was ripped out of his boots and his kite wrenched from his hands snapping his leash, losing his kite and snapping his board; a double eject!
It was a tough crash to have at such a critical moment in the heat but to make matters worse in his frustration he punched the beach and dislocated his hand! Heal up soon Ruben! In the end Nick Jacobsen couldn’t do enough to challenge Jesse and Kevin who were on fire. Nick got some huge jumps and big tricks in, but Jesse and Kevin were on another level and both looked on form to take the win. The judges gave the heat to Kevin with Jesse in second, Nick in third and the injured Ruben Lenten in fourth. Once more this event has eluded him, will Ruben ever take the crown he covets the most?
We had a short waiting period as the second semi final got ready to hit the water, the excitement on the beach was building and there were cheers for the injured Ruben Lenten. When the green flag went up though it was all about Aaron Hadlow, Steven Akkersdijk, Sam Light and Jerrie Van De Kop. This heat was a powered affair with all the riders in boots and going for huge mega loops.
Jerrie Van De Kop was a wildcard for the event, but he is a solid rider and looked dangerous, he was also the only wildcard to make it to this stage of the event. His style is very powered and his mega loops are huge, he’s talented too having won the Mega Loop Challenge in howling winds in Holland last year. It was Sam Light though who threw down the big jump of the heat getting 12.7m up according to his Woo Sports tracker. Steven Akkersdijk, who placed third in last years event was also busting some huge kite loops, but really this heat was all about one man – Aaron Hadlow!
Aaron isn’t usually known for his big air riding, but he was looking incredibly good on the water today. Towards the end of the heat he threw down his signature Mega Loop KGB. This involves throwing a back loop mega loop, then unhooking and passing the bar before you land. With the crowd literally gasping as he went for it, everyone went nuts when he stuck the landing!
“We waited all this time and we finally got the conditions we were waiting for. I know the conditions here in Cape Town well and I knew I had a good chance but you never know how it’s going to go. Once I went out there I was just full of adrenaline and managed to pull some pretty sick moves so I’m really happy now.”
Aaron had clearly done enough to make it into the finals, so the other three riders were left to battle it out between themselves for the last place in the coveted final heat. In the end it was the wildcard and danger man Jerrie Van De Kop who impressed the judges the most, getting higher and looping his kite lower than the other riders. Aaron comfortably won the heat with Jerrie a deserved second, Steven Akkersdijk in third and Sam Light in fourth.
Epic day at the King Of The Air today! Really bummed about my semi final heat, it just didn’t go my way. I had a few butt checks on my biggest moves and I just couldn’t find that perfect ramp to launch from. I’m still really happy it was a great event!
The final was decided then; Kevin Langeree, Jesse Richman, Aaron Hadlow and Jerrie Van De Kop would be the last four men in the event with their eyes firmly fixed on the prize! We had another short wait while the riders readied themselves for the moment we had all been waiting for. Two weeks and one extra day of waiting and scratching around for the right conditions would come down to this one final heat…
All four riders would take to the water and then one rider was to be eliminated, this would be signalled on the beach by the lowering of their flag. The remaining three riders would then carry on and battle it out to decide the order of the podium. With the wind now well and truly thumping it was going to be a hectic final round, just what the ‘doctor’ had ordered!
As the green flag went up, Aaron Hadlow exploded out of the gate like an Icelandic volcano looking to ruin some holiday plans. The 5x World Champion was hungry for this and keen to prove he can handle himself amongst the best of them when it comes to big air. However, Kevin Langeree wasn’t taking any prisoners and, despite the wounded hand, he was getting some serious hangtime; Kevin jumps so high he actually gets dizzy from a lack of oxygen! He’d already got the biggest jump of the day in the previous heat and was doing his best to go even bigger.
Jesse Richman, who had looked so solid throughout the event, seemed to struggle a bit in the final, his biggest jump was just 7.1m which was way off his best for the event. He had some nasty crashes too and when he did go huge he couldn’t seem to stick the landing. He got more spankings than a belligerent toddler and we were amazed he walked away from some of them. The judges soon put him out of his misery and pulled down his flag calling him off the water and out of the final. It was down to Jerrie Van De Kop now to upset the Aaron and Kevin party and he looked threatening, getting the biggest jump of the final soaring to 13.3m. The gauntlet was now well and truly thrown.
In the semis I had a heat that felt amazing… One of the biggest kiteloop 5s that I have ever done. The final didn’t exactly go the way I wanted, the wind picked up and I went from fully lit on my 9m Naish Torch to pretty much totally out of control.
It was Aaron Hadlow who answered the call first, the signature Mega Loop KGB was pulled out of the bag. He’s currently the only rider to attempt this move in competition, and it’s so scary to do and has so much risk attached to it that he never even practices it. It’s just too dangerous; he’s only ever landed two, one in last year’s event and the one in his previous heat. Everyone’s hearts were in their mouths as he unhooked and passed the bar almost level with his kite. He stomped it sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Kevin meanwhile was using his footstraps to his advantage, huge board-offs, massive kite loops and his signature floaty jumps where he seems to stay in the air forever were making it a very close race between the three riders. When the red flag went up to signal the end of the final it was down to the judges to make the very tough call as to who had won the event…
As the crowds headed over to the podium for the prize giving the tension in the air was palpable. Aaron had ridden so well and landed one of the hardest tricks in the book, but Kevin had so much variety to his moves and Jerrie had gone absolutely huge, it was a very difficult decision to make considering the very different styles of all the riders.
Kevin was very much more airstyle orientated with his footstraps allowing him to pull off some great board-offs that the crowd loved. Jerrie meanwhile had gone absolutely huge and had performed some massive mega loops, and Aaron had a monster of a heat with lots of massive airs, technical mega loops and of course the Mega Loop KGB.
Jerrie was rewarded for his efforts with third place, not bad for the wildcard from Holland, and he looked stoked as he stepped onto the podium. There was the usual tantalising delay as we waited to hear the next name read out… Kevin Langeree took the second spot, meaning your Red Bull King Of The Air was Aaron Hadlow, the crowd went nuts, he deserved every bit of it and showed once again he really is in a league of his own when it comes to his tricks.
Aaron was also awarded the Mystic Move Of The Day award for his Mega Loop KGB and Kevin got the prize for the biggest jump of the day and the entire competition getting 13.5m as measured by his Woo Sports device. The crowd were rewarded with a fantastic display of big air kiting at its best, and with the Cape Doctor finally playing ball the event got the send off it deserved.
1st Aaron Hadlow
2nd Kevin Langeree
3rd Jerrie Van De Kop
4th Jesse Richman
It was a real shame there was no live stream for the last two days, you can read more about that here. Yesterday Richard Burton managed to get a live stream up and running, but sadly today there were technical issues and the stream never really worked. The Red Bull King Of The Air is one of the most spectacular events in the world and showcases our sport in such a great fashion. Let’s hope next year the team aren’t dealt such harsh cards with the weather and we can get the live stream back up and running from Red Bull.
For now you’ll have to enjoy this report and wait for the first few videos to make it onto the Internet from the event. We’ll be keeping an eye out and posting them up as and when they arrive, so as ever watch this space for more action!
We hope you have enjoyed our daily reports, it’s been a tough couple of weeks, usually we just have to do one write up, but the protracted nature of the event has led to 4 write ups, over 8000 words being written, and countless updates on Social Media! We’re glad it’s over, but once again cannot wait until next year. For now though, we are off for a nice cold beer, and we bet the competitors and organisers are too!
“Big Air is a discipline I don’t always focus on, but it’s something that I always have in the back of my mind. I know this event will grow the sport of kiteboarding. The atmosphere here at Big Bay is like nothing else – the crowd loves it. It’s the one event in kiteboarding that really is for kiteboarding and I’m so happy to be on top!”
Sun 15th Feb, 2015 @ 9:49 pm
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