Following the wake of the 2022 KPL (Kite Park League) Team Battle in Hood River, Oregon that reignited competitive park riding and set the stage for a new influx of life and faces into the park-riding scene, the foundation for an upcoming season was set in motion. For 2023, the KPL is pleased to introduce a world tour consisting of three different stops around the globe, beginning in Villa La Angostura, Argentina, then proceeding to Sicily, Italy, and culminating in Taiba, Brazil, for the final. Along with the world tour, the KPL is honored to bring back the second annual Team Battle to Hood River, USA; mark your calendar as we invite you, our beloved fans, to follow along for the 2023 Kite Park League season.
This past week, the KPL had hosted the first tour stop in the beautiful town of Villa La Angostura. Riders traveled from around the world to congregate at the first KPL event ever held in Argentina. Collectively, 24 men and three women made up our field of competitors for the inaugural Patagonia Invitational.
Kiteboarding often takes place in some of the most beautiful locations and the Patagonia Invitational was no exception. The event was held on the water’s edge of a remote island in lake Nahuel Heapi. The lake itself and the surrounding vibrant, green Patagonian mountain range co-existed as a pristine slice of unfiltered beauty that became unimaginably alluring with the temporary addition of a world-class kite park. The park consisted of five individualized features that floated in stark contrast to the surreal crystal clear glacial water that riders had the privilege to ride on throughout the entirety of the event.
When the wind shifted to the West and began funneling down lake Nahuel Heapi, the event commenced with a course preview, allowing the rider’s to feast their eyes on the immaculate park that lay before them. Riders awoke eager to face off against one another and manifest their competitive aspirations. On the morning of February fifth, the sky echoed radiant blue as the sun danced across the surface and illuminated the transparent water of the lake - conditions which subsisted for nearly the entire event. As the morning dissolved into the afternoon, the wind greeted the park with idealistic 11-13 meter conditions, allowing the entire field of riders the afternoon to explore their competitive blueprints and renovate any areas of uncertainty.
As with past KPL events, the meticulous formatting and stringent judging remained intact, splitting the field into multiple heats which ultimately distinguished the finalists. For the Patagonia Invitational, the men were split into four heats of six riders that sequentially determined both semifinalists, as well as finalists. The women bypassed qualification heats and proceeded directly to finals, which included Adela Mendoza, Kristen Cooper, and Lara Barrio.
On the morning of the sixth, the competitors made their way to the island, and the women ran their lines, pumped their kites, and entered the water as the first competitors of the week’s event. After the first two features, a hierarchy began to develop as Kristen Cooper made her dominance known with clean hits across both the F-One School Bus and decisive grabs off of the Airush kicker. Following in her footsteps was Adela Mendoza and Lara Barrio, KPL rookies whose skills and confidence improved with every lap through the park. While the entire event catered to progression, perhaps the most memorable portion of women’s final transpired on the Airush Incline, the final feature of the event. Each talented rider proved their technical proficiency and fierce enthusiasm, showcasing a caliber of riding that blossomed and thrived within the confines of a competitive setting. After the scores were tallied, Lara Barrio clenched third place on the podium, next to second-place finisher Adela Mendoza, and the victor of the Patagonia Invitational, Kristen Cooper.
While the women secured their initial standings on tour, the men siphoned through heats, weaning out the field to determine the six skilled finalists. Ultimately, Mariano Cuevas, Lucas Muzio, Chad Porter, Eric Rienstra, Rami Gallart, and Noè Font proved their expertise amongst their competitors and found themselves ready to face off against one another in the final duel.
One of kiteboarding’s most stringent factors is the reliance on wind, and unfortunately for the men’s final, the wind manifested itself as a rollercoaster, surging up and down with varying strength. However, the fickle conditions did not deter the persistence of the finalists, who navigated the course with precision, placing their own unique emphasis on each of the five features. Although the consistency, manicured approach, individualized technique, and the scores of the six finalists ultimately determined the concluding results, each of these six riders deserved equal respect and praise, as park-riding is a caliber of kiteboarding few can perform at such a distinguished tier. That being said, competition familiarity played the upper hand during finals, which bode well for the KPL veterans: Eric Rienstra, Rami Gallart, and Noè Font. Throughout the entirety of the contest and in continuation through finals, these three riders illustrated emphatic consistency which served as a fundamental benefactor that helped land each on the podium. Congratulations to our third-place finisher Eric Rienstra, followed by our second-place finisher Rami Gallart, and the winner of the Patagonia Invitational, Noè Font.
For those who missed the event highlights or are unaware of the extraordinary dynamics that ensued during the event, we urge you to follow our social media platforms for a first-hand look at the beautiful park curated by the KPL and the phenomenal riding that transpired. A sincere thank you goes out to our sponsors who helped support the event and make the Patagonia Invitational a reality. Thank you: GPX Store, Association Argentina De Kite, Tabla Shop, Second Wind, F-One, Cavok World, Corona, Ride Engine, Airush, and Duotone. Additionally, we would like to thank the head judge, Wenceslao Nowotny, our media staff, Andre Magarao, Pablo Rios, Canoa Films, Mora Gallart, and the event coordinators. Although everyone involved played a pivotal role in bringing this idea to life, the event’s largest contributor was Rami Gallart, who organized this special event and helped propel it into the Kite Park League’s global limelight.
For now, we say goodbye from stop one of the Patagonia Invitational in Villa La Angostura. Our sights are now set on the second stop of the tour, which will take us to Sicily, Italy. Mark your calendars, clear your schedule, and get ready for a front-row experience of the second tour stop. Thank you for supporting the greatest, most inclusive, and most progressive platform in competitive kiteboarding. Sincerely, the KPL staff and Chief Editor. That’s it, that’s all, folks. More to come from Sicily.