On 23rd September, 18 of the world’s best big air kiteboarders descended on Denmark’s Cold Hawaii for a powerful storm that delivered a brutally windy competition. Gusts blasted above and beyond 50 knots for a large proportion of the event in which Liam Whaley unarguably proved himself the most accomplished and complete extreme big air rider
Image above: Liam Whaley, confident
Liam was pushed very close by a 16-year-old Italian, Lorenzo Casati, who burst into new found fame at this event. Casati cast Nick Jacobsen aside in round three and then Cohan van Dijk in the semis in an enormous heat that saw the Italian awarded 36 out of a possible 40 points and some of the biggest boogie loop board-offs we’ve ever seen.
Wonderkid, Lorenzo Casati, boogie board-off
Lasse Walker is a constant threat in the strongest conditions and he despatched team mate and double Red Bull King of the Air winner, Aaron Hadlow, in the semi finals with a clinically constructed heat that included the highest scoring trick of the day, a late backroll mega loop. Taking off way out back, the Dutchman crossed the horizon before coming in to land near the beach.
Liam looked imperious all day though; riding with the seeming flow and ease of someone who knew that his time had finally come as the most complete twin-tip rider who is currently competing in all disciplines. He was the only rider to not score below 30 points in a heat and, fittingly, peaked in the final with the highest heat score of 36.37.
Liam, megaloop late backroll
Having come through the most thrilling heat in round three against Jamie Overbeek, a young Dutch rider who was ripping with nothing to lose, Liam then breezed past another new charger, Giel Vlugt in the semis. Giel had just overcome Kevin Langeree in a heat where the wind was touching the 60 knot mark, but from this moment on Liam’s rich competition experience paid dividends and where Giel’s storm towards the podium finally stuttered, Liam found yet another gear.
Finalists: Young gun Casati faced the big air establishment of Walker and Whaley in the final
Come the final, the Spaniard stacked the most trick attempts and slowly built his winning scoreboard from the bottom up. Successfully landing the tricks he was most confident of nailing time and again early on, exerting pressure on his opponents before then, brimming with the confidence of destiny, pushed higher and harder with riskier moves like an astonishing late backroll board-off to rightfully claim the title.
Left to right: Casati, Whaley, Walker
COLD HAWAII GAMES FINAL HEAT RESULT: 1 Liam Whaley (ESP) 36.37 points 2 Lorenzo Casati (ITA) 33.63 3 Lasse Walker (NED) 31.93 The Red Bull King of the Air looks set to run in early December, when we can hopefully look forward to seeing a fit Jesse Richman ready to defend his title in Cape Town. In 50 knots handle-passes were certainly not called for in Denmark, but looking on from Hawaii, Jesse knows that anything goes in Cape Town and Liam is well equipped in that regard. A Jesse Vs Liam heat with both at peak form and fitness, with the biggest artillery of big air tricks at their disposal, has the mouth watering already!