FIRST WORLD TITLE FOR THE VETERAN FREESTYLE RIDER!
Friday 14th October
Report: Gemma Hamaini
Photos: Samuel Cardenas
Video: Leleu Creations
After over 15 years as a professional kiteboarding and now wingfoiling athlete, Czech Paula Novotna claimed her first world title at the GWA Wingfoil World Cup Tarifa on Friday morning in a final against season-long rival, Nia Suardiaz!
The competition re-started on Friday morning at the semi-final stage.
At the start of day three of competition, the 15 female competitors had already been reduced down to the four remaining semi-finalists…
The first heat saw Paula Novotna defeat our 2021 World Champion, Bowien van der Linden, in the first semi-final of the day, throwing out a clean array of tricks including an impressive frontside 3. Bowien is a top athlete, but Paula just had more consistency in landing her tricks in the difficult, choppy conditions that the athletes had to manage.
It was already amazing to see such a change in Paula’s performance today, compared to her heat yesterday where her nerves clearly got the better of her – everyone knew the pressure on her shoulders at the chance of taking her first world championship at the penultimate event of the season, and to avoid a nail-biting final showdown in Brazil.
Flora Artzner has been a consistent Surf-Freestyle podium finisher in this her first full season and has led the Surf-Slalom rankings all season. However, coming up against Nia Suardiaz in the semi-finals was certainly a challenge for her. Nia, fresh from claiming the GWA Youth World Championships in France in early October, is a Tarifa local, and incredibly comfortable in these typically strong conditions.
The wind was gusting up to 30 knots on occasion, and it was crucial to choose the trick moments wisely. Flora landed three solid trick attempts, but it was not enough to defeat Nia, who advanced through to face Paula in the final.
WOMEN’S SURF-FREESTYLE FINAL
PAULA NOVOTNA (CZE) V NIA SUARDIAZ (ESP)
So here we have it, the top two all season fighting it out once more, but with far more immediately on the line. Could Nia win and push the title decider to the final event in Brazil in November?
The final was an outstanding demonstration of riding from both Nia and Paula, showing just how much this sport has progressed in such a short time. Paula has been competing in kiteboarding for over 15 years, having achieved top podium positions for many years. All of her experience really showed through today. She was fully focused, and put on one of the strongest performances we have seen from her.
The Czech rider pulled out a toeside frontside 3 and a frontside 3, gaining solid scores. Solid and safe, but not unbeatable.
Nia followed through with the same tricks, but fell slightly short, unable to replicate Paula’s consistency, which was key. The buzzer went off to close the heat, and Paula Novotna officially became our 2022 GWA Wingfoil Surf-Freestyle World Champion!