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Why are kiter rankings relevant?

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gonesailin
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Why are kiter rankings relevant?

Postby gonesailin » Fri Apr 10, 2009 4:14 am

Aside from helping the manufacturers and sponsors quantify their return on investment, why does it matter to any of us who is crowned the king of kiting? Kiting is an innovative sport with innovative riders doing innovative things with innovative equipment. Why are we trying to cram it into a traditional box? Ask 10 riders "Who's the best kiter?" and you're bound to get a dozen different responses.
Kiteboarding has already lost a number of marquis players to the brutal schedule and tedious demands of competing on the world tours. Lou Wainman, Adam Koch, Martin Vari, and Felix Pivek are a few riders who come to mind when I think about guys who still had tons of room to grow as riders when they dropped the tour limelight. They're still out there, taking the sport and their equipment to new levels. But they're doing it on their terms. I don't even know if Ben Wilson ever competed in a sanctioned event.
I'd like to think that these guys are pushing our sport because they are passionate about kiting, and that the sponsors who have stuck with them understand that. I respect riders who can't stand not kiting when the wind is blowing. Guys who still remember dropping into a perfect wave for the first time. Riders who can still relate to the elation the rest of us feel when we boost a huge air, or land a new trick, or just score a session when we didn't think it would be windy.
But the sponsors still need a way to measure their ROI right? Then let's give them a simple foundation to work from. Look for magazine placements of your logos, and media placements beyond our core publications. Look for mentions of your athlete's names in the forums. Look for the "riders choice" winners at multi-faceted events like the SPI Kite Roundup, the Real Triple S, and the Red Bull Kite Punks (which I just discovered - Thank you YouTube!). These are innovative events being put on by core kite shops that are run by kiters who have worked their asses off to support and build our sport. These are events that reach out to average kiters as well as the pros who are doing things that the rest of us struggle just to understand. By tracking these performance metrics, sponsors can see which riders are pushing the sport, expanding it to new markets, and reaching out to and relating with your customers. Aren't those the goals of sponsoring athletes?
For those riders who think that the only way kiting will be "legit" is to become an Olympic sport, all I can say is that I feel sorry for you. Kiting is legit because it keeps me up at night. It's legit because my friends will drop everything to get out on the water. It's legit because once you've started kiting, you can't comprehend giving the sport up. And if it's not "legit", who cares?
I've had the privilege of riding in beautiful places, and with a few of the guys we see in the magazines. At the end of the day, they're all just like you and me. They're kiters. They don't care who's the best in the world. They care that everyone got the best session today.
A fellow kiter sent me the new Hadlow video today. It blew my mind, but I enjoyed shooting a few pics of my friend kiting under the setting sun last night much more, and I enjoyed my session in the middle of the day even more than the 20 minutes behind the camera. So tonight in front of my computer, the best kiter in my world was Aaron Hadlow. Last night at the Cape Charles beach it was my buddy Erin. Yesterday afternoon it was me. I hope that tomorrow you have the chance to be the best kiter in your world.
The guys on my local forum know I can get a bit long winded, but after reading several pages of PKRA vs. IKA vs. ABC vs. DUI commentary, I felt like a little perspective is needed on a lot of levels in this sport, or at least on this forum. If kiting is going to continue to grow and succeed, I believe we need potential sponsors to see kiteboarding as a sport that has a very dedicated following of active athletes who live to ride, and who understand that we are so much luckier than all those suckers who sit on the beach and just watch. They also need to see a sport that is somewhat accessible to the rest of the world. If kiting doesn't sell cars, the car companies won't sponsor kiters.
The guys in the red shirts like to say that "Windsurfing's Been Canceled". In reality I think that Windsurfing Committed Suicide. Or at least it wandered off into the desert for a while. Let's not make the same mistake by focusing solely on the tip of the rider pyramid. Kiting allows the average athlete to fly. What could be more legit than that?

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Re: Why are kiter rankings relevant?

Postby Windrider » Fri Apr 10, 2009 7:21 am

Did you just see "Watchmen" or read the book?

... why are kiter rankings, relevant? they're not.... but, it is nice to see people doing things that take a lot of practice and dedication...

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Re: Why are kiter rankings relevant?

Postby gonesailin » Fri Apr 10, 2009 7:55 am

Nope... haven't seen it or read it yet, but I guess when I do I'll get the reference.

I agree completely with the idea that it's incredible to watch what all the leading riders are doing with our sport. However, I don't think that any of the tour formats have ever helped kiting progress as a sport. I do think that the rider oriented events that are happening in many of our best kiting locations are a better way to let the best riders push each other to new heights.

Tour events have traditionally been set up in places with the potential to draw big crowds to satisfy event sponsors. Go back through Ruben's videos and you'll hear him talk about getting skunked at contest after contest a year or two ago. Kite events should be focused on getting great riders into great conditions.

As far as publicity goes, nobody in this business does hype better than Real. And they back it up with some great events. I've never thought that I wanted to go to a pro event. I'd rather kite than watch someone else kite. But the SPI gig next month looks like a great time, and I'm tempted to fly down for a couple of days.

Most of us see the best riders doing their best stuff on non-contest videos and in the magazines. YouTube has become a pretty major force in spreading the sport to non-kiters. For a lot of people, watching the average rider throw simple powered front rolls is like me watching those dudes in the flying squirrel suits. It's incredible.

I just think that trying to get everyone to line up and follow the rules won't work for a sport with as many different disciplines as ours. I think that the more freedom riders have to express their style, the better it is for the sport.

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Re: Why are kiter rankings relevant?

Postby Toby » Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:32 am

Very good write up!

I agree about tour events.

Kite events should be fun and a show!
There should be winners, but in a good event every rider should feel like a winner.

In the past the red bull king of the air was such event, nowadays reals's triple S and the spi roundup will be great. Also this event www.kite-show.com

Good that our sport offers so many choices!!!

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Re: Why are kiter rankings relevant?

Postby Trant » Fri Apr 10, 2009 2:15 pm

gonesailin wrote:A fellow kiter sent me the new Hadlow video today. It blew my mind, but I enjoyed shooting a few pics of my friend kiting under the setting sun last night much more, and I enjoyed my session in the middle of the day even more than the 20 minutes behind the camera. So tonight in front of my computer, the best kiter in my world was Aaron Hadlow. Last night at the Cape Charles beach it was my buddy Erin. Yesterday afternoon it was me. I hope that tomorrow you have the chance to be the best kiter in your world.


I love this sentiment and I totally agree with you :) But, it's human nature to want to know who is the "best" and the tours answer that, everyone loves a bit of competition and the PKRA/KPWT are the places where the pros can compete if they want to.

p.s. If you ask any English person "who is the best kiter in the world?", 99% will reply with "Aaron Hadlow" :wink: We like our winners.


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