Our girls wrap up the KPL.
Hi Colleen! The KPL has just completed it’s 2nd full year. In general, how has this year's tour compared to last?
The KPL is gaining recognition and momentum with every event so it’s no surprise that for this season we had more people tuning into what we were up to. There were also more unknown riders turning up to qualification events and entering into the wildcard competitions.
As for the competitions themselves, our events keep getting better and growing every year. We kept the same roster for this year as the result were fantastic, but we might see some changes in the coming year as there are more and more parks popping up all over the world who are applying to be included in the tour.
There are 2 US based events on the Calendar. How are they different from each other and what makes each of them special enough to feature on the tour?
The two US based events, Triple-S and Hood Jam, are held at the Real Watersports park in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and the other at the Slider Project Park in Hood River, Oregon. While they are both in the states, they are on opposite coasts and offer significantly different conditions and features - not to mention they are both in locations where the majority of the Kite Park League Riders look forward to traveling to and riding at each year.
Additionally, the Triple-S is the longest running park event and boasts the largest prize purse, most amount of features of any park and puts on an amazing line-up of parties making it easily the most prestigious event of the season. As for Hood Jam, organised by myself, Craig Cunningham, Rich Sabo and Brandon Scheid, it scales back slightly on parties and prize purse but still offers a great event that the riders look forward to each year.
In your opinion, what are the things that make the KPL work?
The riders and event organisers of the KPL are some of the most passionate kiteboarders I know, and are the reason the KPL exists and continues to flourish. That being said, it couldn’t have been possible without events like the Triple-S starting at a time when park riding was such a tiny niche in our sport and those riders who started building features and pushing this side of kiteboarding in the early days.
Other than growing organically off the leg work of generations before, in my opinion the KPL continues to grow and function because the KPL consistently completes high quality events with a good media output and continues to expand at a natural and sustainable rate.
Highs and lows of the tour?
A high for me was Triple-S where I managed to take the win. I felt that I was riding really strong and was able to land some tricks that I was really proud of. A low for me was this last event in Rhosneigr where I was off my game and didn’t feel I was able to adjust to the ever changing conditions and riding spot which ultimately took me out of contention for the overall win.
It was your first time to Rhosneigr. What's your opinion on the setup and how did the event go for you?
Rhosneigr is a very unique kiteboarding destination. It’s a quaint Welsh town where you can almost see from one end of town to the next and is actually a bustling kiteboarding spot for the area. Any windy day, the main spot would fill with both kiteboarders and windsurfers. Just up the beach from the main launch, we had the event in between rocks that would keep the waves at bay and offer nice flat water for a couple hours a day. It was quite challenging to run heats in between the ever changing tides but when the water levels were right, the conditions were pretty solid with a beautiful backdrop of green hillsides and the cute village. The event actually didn’t go quite as I had hoped but I can still be happy going home with a second place.
Are you happy with your results overall?
Of course I wish I could have taken the overall win. I was leading the ranking for most of the season up until this last event so it’s always hard when you can’t keep it going just at the very last bit. However, the level for the women is truly higher than ever and continues to progress with every event, so taking a second place win is still a huge achievement and I’m very proud of the season. The media output for each event has been great. Why do you think that it?
In general our media output for the year has been fantastic and has exceeded any of our expectations. Most of our events put together a really solid media crew where we typically have Toby Bromwich as our head photographer and then we often are lucky enough to have either Vincent Bergeron or Tom Court on board as our videographer. Additionally, most of our riders are very proficient at writing articles and are typically excited to share the stories of what happened during each event. Again, I think the key to success here is due in part to the event organisers hiring talented media teams and also the KPL riders themselves combined with their passion for sharing what park riding is all about.
What are you up to at the moment and what will you be working on in preparation for the KPL 2018 season?
Lately I have shifted gears towards promoting and attending premieres for our year long, movie project, The Bubble Film. It’s been really cool attending as many of the premieres as I can with the guys. Noé and Craig have done a great job at organising the premiere Tour and the ones we’ve attended have been packed and really well received. Next I’m planing a few trips and I’ll also try to get some time riding at various cable parks to make sure I continue to progress in the park.
What 2018 gear are you riding and how is it all working out for you?
As always, I’ll be riding the Gambler which for 2018 is slightly lighter in weight and offers a narrower stance which I’m really happy about as I’ve recently started riding the 139 in the park. Additionally, I love riding my Vegas as well as Dice and I will go between these two depending on the trip and typical conditions. I really enjoy riding Dice when the conditions are a bit more challenging and variable. I’m also really excited about the new 2018 Foil which I have the most fun riding with my 5m or 7m Neo and now I actually get really stoked about those light wind days that just aren’t enough to have a proper park or freestyle session.
Hi Manuela. Congrats on your 3rd Place at the Rhosneigr Park Jam. How did the event go for you?
Thank you, I was very happy to share the podium with Annelous Lammerts (1st) and Colleen Carroll (2nd). It was a long week and quite cold up in Wales. We had the best conditions during the early mornings as soon as the sun came up. I am not a morning person at all, especially if it’s cold and I have to get into a wetsuit. But once I was all zipped up it was fine. We were a small crew and it was nice to see everyone and ride together.
I really enjoyed riding the North rail they built and it was great to do some different combinations that I had been working on at the cable with my kite. The kicker sessions were low point for me. I was struggling with the strong and gusty winds and didn’t feel I could do myself justice.
What were the ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ you experienced on the tour.
My ‘ups’ and ‘down’s came at the same time, right at the beginning of the year. I’d been riding the in the Blue Palawan park in the lead up to the first stop there and I was able to improve a lot. Unfortunately during the competition I didn’t manage to show the judges what they wanted to see and only got low scores. It was a shame and didn’t motivate me for the second run. My general high is my passion to ride in the kite park, I really enjoy this discipline, the freedom of hitting features with a kite and that’s the most important thing for me.
What’s been your favourite event on the schedule and why?
The Blue Palawan Open in the Philippines is my favourite event. I am from Switzerland with mountains and snow but despite my origin I really like the warm weather. It is so nice to ride in the Philippines where it’s warm and you don’t need a wetsuit. It’s so easy to just take a quick brake, refuel with some coconut water and food then hit the park again. The set up there is to a very high standard, the rails are all professionally made and progressive. I like the two different sliders and the kicker is the perfect size too; not too big, not too small.
What 2018 gear are you riding and how is it all working out for you?
I am riding the Dice and the 139 Gambler. I really like the Dice because I can use it for all conditions and disciplines. It’s the perfect travel companion on any type of kite trip. The characteristics of the dice are very good in the kite park because the wind can often be gusty and I appreciate the stability of the kite.
How do you train for the events on the tour and what tips do you have for people looking to get into this style of riding?
I spent a lot of time at the cable this year. I realised that I needed to learn all the tricks first on the cable and then transfer them over to the kite. I would say it’s similar to practicing freestyle tricks in brazil and then taking them to the harder conditions elsewhere. It is way easier to train the movements at the cable, but it is also very hard after that to perfect the art of finding the lines, keeping the kite in the right position and pulling off the trick in the kite park afterwards. The different sized kites also add some variety.
What have you been up to in between events?
I was doing all sorts of stuff this year to be honest. I had the chance to do some work for my sponsor Traser during spring and early summer which kept me a bit away from the water. It did make me appreciate my life as a professional athlete again which I’d taken to be normal for a while. I am also working more and more as a content creator and influencer, which I did whilst spending time in Switzerland. I also visited Iceland which was a mind-blowing experience. The beauty and ruggedness was amazing and I look forward to going back at some point in the future!