29. August 2016
Five time World Champion Aaron Hadlow may not lead the table with all discards in place, but as all riders are registered in Germany, when we take the discarded round away, he finds himself at the top of the list of contenders for the first GKA Freestyle Rider of the Year award. The final Grand Slam event that makes up the series, is in Germany, which got underway on the 26th August and runs to the 4th September.
The 'Grand Slam' events that have counted towards the Rider of the Year award this season have been the Mondial du Vent in Leucate, the Wind Voyager Triple-S in Cape Hatteras, the MaiTai Cabarete Freestyle Invitational and this final event, the Pringles Kitesurf World Cup in Fehmarn, Germany.
Here are Aaron's thoughts as he prepares for the final round:
The GKA Rider of the Year award is designed to find the most all-round freestyle rider in the sport. How did you feel about that when you first heard the concept?
I was excited when I first heard about the concept of having a world kiteboarding awards. For now it starts as a Rider of the Year across major events and it obviously suits me as it incorporates all the events and disciplines I love and focus on the most. I think it could turn into something even bigger where the world's best kiteboarders across all disciplines come together at a certain point in the year to win in many different ways, such 'video of the year', 'big air of the year', 'best rail rider of the year', etc. I think it could also open up a lot of avenues for riders. Many other sports have something similar and it could be great for kiteboarding.
You have always been such an all-round freestyle rider. Could you tell us a little about how you approach freestyle and what's most important to you?
I focus on what motivates me and there are certain times and events in the year that change the way I think, whether that is the KOTA, SSS or WKL. Freestyle has always been the most important to me, it is the roots of the sport, how I built my career and the hardest and most challenging aspect of the sport by far. It is so demanding on the body that you really have to maximise your time on the water, but it is very technical and small details count, so we can constantly improve. It is frustrating at times, that's why sometimes I need a change, but in the end the reward is huge.
The Germany event is always a big deal, both on the beach and in the water. Tell us a bit about how you feel heading to that event with it also being the finale to this particular series?
For me it is the biggest event of the year and is the home event for North Kiteboarding. I have done well in the previous two years and the fans and crowds are always amazing. This year I am looking forward to it as I always do, I have been practising with the event in mind and am keen to do well once again. It wraps up the GKA awards so a good result would mean a good result in the series too.
How do you value this award, considering the world tour organisation in the last couple of years and the fact that it has been formed by the brands?
The last couple of years have been quite turbulent for the world tour. We as riders all know the true winners, but politics and organisations have somewhat confused the matter. Obviously the brands are a huge part of kiteboarding and of course as riders we are loyal and support our sponsors, so it is an important award to take seriously. I find value and feel I grow within the sport by doing different events, so it is nice to have that recognised now. Like I said before, it could really turn into something huge with time. It is also great to see that the organisation of the world tour is going in a great direction too. Lots of hard work has gone in to sort it out this year and all the riders have stuck together. I think from now on we can be sure that there will be a great platform for freestyle kiteboarders and with the GKA award we really have it all.
Do you have any tactics going into the event?
There is a new format that I have not competed in yet so it is hard to tell. I like to use tactics and my experience of competing but it really depends on the conditions and what happens on the day. I have been working hard on what I think is necessary for a good result at this event so hopefully it all comes together and will work out well!
Find the current standings in the GKA Freestyle Grand Slam Rider of the Year rankings here.
Aaron Hadlow - Sands of time video
Aaron Hadlow taking some time to reflect at the end of the 2015 season and putting all his energy into maintaining his level, pushing the limits of what is possible and shedding the famous lagoons of Brazil. Shot in a ten day window, its always great to see what can be achieved! Hadlow in the sands of time.