BOSCH BOSCH BOSCH...
...was the order of the day today as the wind had picked up overnight and produced some good 12m kite conditions for the conclusion of the freestyle championships. Today was like the snowkite proms for competition co-ordinator and event MC Mathias Charton who orchestrated things beautifully, rallying the troops and riders making sure that all competitors' heats would run back to back leaving enough time for the finals as no one knew how long the wind would last.
The regular competitors like Remi Meum and Bjorn Kaupang kept commenting on how surprised they were that there were so many riders they didn't know. Unfortunately the temporary absense of world tour competition has meant that snowkiters from around the world have had less opportunity to meet and compete against each other, but it was really interesting to see the fresh talent coming up and pushing the regular top place finishers.
The lion's pit that was the photographer's dug-out saw almost as much action as the kickers and inclines themselves with event and freelance snappers jockeying for position as each rider approached the spot favoured most for performing tricks.
'Jeez, I've never shot anywhere like that. Mused Will in the van after the event. 'But I just stuck me elbows out and got on with it. I had to get out of there after a while and shoot from somewhere else, but then it's mad because there's kites coming at you from everywhere. The riders are so amped for it and were just knocking tricks out left, right and centre. Because you can ride in all directions when you're snowkiting (uphill, downhill, upwind and downwind - unlike on the water where riders are generally only coming from one of two directions), you've got to have eyes in the back of your head as a photographer to avoid getting decapitated. I thought hiding behind a tree would be a good spot, but it seemed like nowhere was safe. These guys are good though and throw down massively, often wiping out badly.'
Today was a fantastic event, and the spirit of snowkiting is alive and well in the competition arena. 'Zis is za life!'
Click on the gallery images to start the slide show and read the captions for the unfolding of the story. All photos William Milne and Jim Gaunt
MEN'S SNOWBOARD FREESTYLE:
1 Sigve Botnen (NOR) Ozone
2 Herve Brandstotter (AUT) JN
3 Remi Meum (NOR) Nolbile
MEN'S SKI FREESTYLE:
1 Bjorn Kaupang (NOR) F-One
2 Fabio Ingrosso (SUI) North
3 Johan Civel (FRA) Ozone
Click here to go to the official Snowkite Masters website for images and more.
Wanting to come snowkiting at the Col du Lautaret? Stay here in Serre Chevalier at La Maison du Bez!
Click here to go to the action gallery from day one!
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