2014 was one of the most hotly anticipated PKRA seasons with the full return of Aaron Hadlow after a lengthy injury. How did he warm up? By busting out a mega loop KGB at the Red Bull King of the Air – a move that he’d more or less ruled out ever doing again!
This is an excerpt from Aaron’s regular Kiteworld column that appeared in issue #68 in March 2014, a year before Aaron won the Red Bull King of the Air – but provides an interesting background story to his immense appetite for competition.
WORDS – Aaron Hadlow
While I was out injured last year my dad asked me if I thought I would ever do a particular trick again. He was asking about a huge kite loop during which I unhook mid-way through the loop and throw a handle-pass. I hadn’t even attempted this after switching to riding boots several years ago, so I bluntly replied, “I very much doubt it”.
At the time he was doubtful I would return to full fitness and throw the moves that I could once do so easily in the same way as before. “Well, the day you throw one of those will be the day you know that you are back again.” He offered. A tall order I thought to myself, knowing full well that if one day I was ever fit enough to be winning another championship then I wouldn’t be wanting to put my body on the line for such a move!
Almost two years to the day I found I was launching myself a hundred miles-an-hour through the sky with the bar behind my back and just two weeks before the first event of a season in which I am planning to fight for a title.
Up to that point in the King of the Air event I had been carefully balancing risk with doing enough to make it through each round without destroying myself. This only works for so long as you climb the ladder and the competition gets harder and harder, meaning you have to step up your game, too. I didn’t do myself any favours when I boosted into one of my biggest loops of the day, then came in and tried another close to the beach where I broke my board and caught an edge. The kite crashed down, leaving me surrounded by kite line with barely seconds before the kite would power up. In a panic I threw everything away from me but a line got wrapped around the end of my bar and off I went, rag dolled across Big Bay, trying not to drink too much water and not run out of breath. After the kite had looped about 15 times it finally it came to settle on the water for a brief second. I managed to climb up my leash to detach it and whip the steering line back into its correct position just before it took off again.
One more loop and I’m not sure if I would have gotten away with it!
Well at least that ordeal was over but as I was in a heat I had to focus on getting rid of the twists in my lines and get upwind to slip into another set of boots. I changed to my spare board with less than a minute remaining, knowing there was only one move that would stop me being eliminated from the event.
Adrenaline was pumping from the incident and on my tack out I started to psych myself up knowing what I needed to do. I started to visualize and feel the movement, pulling the trick out from the memory banks. Coming in I could see the huge crowds covering every inch of the beach and surrounding area. If I was going to do it, there was no better time
Deep down I think I was hoping to get forced into a situation where I would have to do the kite loop pass, and although most people in the crowd would not point it out as one of the most spectacular moves, just having thousands of eye focused on you makes the difference to your motivation and confidence.
When you are competing you want to impress and to show your very best. Usually doing this just for yourself is enough, but when you know there are people out there that know what is going on and all the cameras are on you, plus thousands of people screaming and shouting, it makes you take it that little bit further.
I can only imagine what goes through the minds of the guys during the Red Bull X fighters motor cross events for instance. Everyone watching thinks they’re crazy, that it’s unbelievable… impossible. Well, I guess it’s that that makes them do it.
OUTRO: Aaron went on to use the kite loop KGB to help him take the event win in the recent 2015 event in February, in a similarly pressured situation where it proved the difference. Here’s a round-up of some of the best moves of the event – Aaron’s kite loop KGB coming in at 01.15