excellent write up from africaextreme
Red Bull King Of The Air 2014 – The Highlights
King of the Air 2014 - The Highlights
Sunday 2nd February – Big Bay, Cape Town, South Africa. The day had come, green light for the King Of The Air 2014, the second edition of the worlds’ most extreme kiteboarding event. And boy, was that an event! A day full of surprises, upsets, drama, collateral and comebacks. Here’s a run-down on the highlights.
The competition ladder was kept similar to last year: Four riders per heat, one rider is eliminated half-way through the heat, and the three remaining riders battle it out till the end. The best 2 riders of each heat went through directly to Round 3, while the 3rd and 4th placed riders had to go through a (sort of) double-elimination round. In Round 2 (this double-elimination) it was then only three riders per heat, but again one being eliminated half-way though, and only the best rider advancing to Round 3, the quarter finals.
The judging criteria were kept King Of The Air: a combination of height, risk, variation and technicality. There were several ways to the throne. Riders scored for either big, controlled moves or insanely risky manoeuvres. All together the right judging criteria to push even these riders to their limits.
The new feature this year was that every rider was supplied with a GPS sensor, this way the judges could see the height of each jump and make their call accordingly…this might have been the reason for a few upsets and surprised this year.
It was hard to figure the actual height at the event (we believe that was solved a little better on the live-stream). There are slightly different measures to find all over the web. According to Red Bull South Africa’s Twitter feed, the big air leader-board looks somewhat like this:
1. Tom Hebert – 25.04m
2. Andris Fourie – 23.33m
3. Kevin Langeree – 21.55m
4. Jerrie Van De Kop – 21.41m
5. Billy Parker – 20.22m
6. Reno Romeo – 18.89m
7. Luke McGillewie – 18.51m
8. Jesse Richman – 17.83m
9. Gianni Aragno – 17.58m
10. Graham Howes – 17.30m
Before the event we wondered who’s that young German rider. He has left his mark, nobody will ask this question again! Linus Erdmann was definitely one of the surprises of the event. The 17-year old German threw some of the highest handle-passes of all riders, and this consistently. Unfortunately he battled with the re-launch of his kites a few times too long.
Another “surprise” was Steven Akkerdijk. Don’t get us wrong, it was no surprise to us. We know his skills (he’s running our Freestyle Clinics), we know how charged up he was and we’ve seen him train hard every day leading up to the competition. We’re sure however that some of the top riders have not seen that coming. Who would’ve thought that Ruben Lenten himself gets his ass handed by another Dutch rider? That’s why we love the King Of the Air!
It was clear that in such a strong field of riders, there will be favorites eliminated. That’s exactly what happened. Especially the early exit of Sam Light and Lewis Crathern was a surprise. Both riders came in very close to the top ranks in previous heats. Seems the competition has caught up by now, and the new kids on the block are emerging.
Comeback of the event? That title goes to Mr. Hadlow. Anyone who saw the death-loop/spiral of death that dragged Hadlow right across Big Bay past the entire audience was convinced that was it for Hadlow. He must have gotten injured, or at the very least, after an unwanted body-drag like this far downwind of the competition area doomed to watch the other riders collecting points while he gets back to it. Not so much. Aaron Hadlow did not want to leave the comp at this stage and fought back. It took him two tacks far out to sea to be back at his support crew. They quickly stuffed him in a new board (Geeez these boots take time), and he was back in business! With the biggest KGB-Megaloop we have ever seen and another massive boost he still made it through. Way to go Aaron, impressive stuff.
The Collateral Damage
With our big air competition becoming as extreme as a FMX show, we seem to enter their realm of injuries as well. Unfortunately we saw a few injuries during the event. Two of these injuries took out riders well on course to take the throne. We’re sure the final would’ve looked different if it weren’t for those injuries.
After putting on a great show all day, Tom Hebert came down way too hard from a huuuuge jump (check out the footage if you dare). He released his kite immediately, and was rescued first by Andries Fourie who was in the same heat and nearby (big, big respect for putting your competitors safety before your own success), before the life-guards took over. Herbert was still able to walk himself to the ambulance, but looked like he’s just been hit by a truck.
The other injury happened to Jesse Richman, the former King Of The Air. We didn’t see the actual crash, but half-way through his heat, just after eliminating Billy Parker, Richman was sitting down close to the waters each and screaming a familiar word with F. His brother Shawn saw his trouble and came running to drag him out of the water. They struggled to get the boots of Jesse’s feet due to the pain. Rumours are currently anything from a snapped ACL to a bad fracture.
Another one (more rumour than confirmed info) is Oswald Smith. He’s having slight difficulties moving his head to either side…no surprise for those of us who have seen the mega-loop he landed without kite-support in Round 2.
We wish all athletes a speedy recovery, and are looking forward to see you guys back in action next year. The King Of The Air needs you, otherwise the Dutchies are having it all to themselves.
Extreme events like the King Of The Air are a great opportunity to see how tough kites are, or not. Congratulations to Naish for keeping the king in your team. We learned that you can go big and extreme on Core kites, and we also learned that Ruben Lenten can deliver the same power and height on his new Best kite. Linus Erdmann took an awful long time to launch his Fuel…we don’t want to start any rumors, but could that be one of the reasons almost the entire Slingshot team from 2 years ago is flying Best now?
“Oh My Lord”, “There’s a big gust coming” and “Yeah, Baby”. It doesn’t feel like they said anything else. On top of that it starts being weird when the commentators can’t figure the names of the riders. “That Brazilian with a huge jump”…really? It was fine for a while…but by the time the semi-finals was on it only the sick riding that kept us there.
The All-Dutch Podium
After a full-day of action, drama, etc (all the above), it was time for the final. Celebration time for the Dutch: three out of four riders from The Netherlands. On top of that, it wasn’t one of the many world- or national Champions to join the Dutch. It was local kite-instructor Andries Fourie. With the crowd in his back, he rocked Big Bay.
However, 10 minutes into the final, it was Fourie who was taken out of the occasion.. The Dutchies then went on to have a little fun for the remaining 10 minutes before they claimed the entire podium for The Netherlands.
The King Of The Air 2014
Congratulations to Kevin Langeree. Rightfully crowned the King Of The Air 2014. With his huge portfolio of tricks and massive airs he secured the title. Not many out there seemed as relaxed and in control as Langeree. Way to go Kevin!
Thanks to Red Bull for this great event. We are looking forward to next year. We’re sure we’ll see the level rising again, and some of the riders stepping it up another notch. The King Of The Air is hands down the most (the only?) exciting kitesurfing competition to watch. We’re blessed to have it in Cape Town, South Africa.
If you want more info around the King Of The Air 2014, check out our King Of The Air-archive. Have we missed a highlight? Anything else you’d like to know? Let us know in the comments!