Ross-Dillon Player wins Megaloop 2019
And it was absolutely insane!
Intro: KW’s Matt Pearce hosted the Red Bull Megaloop 2019 livestream today in Zandvoort, the Netherlands. In short – it was nuts. Here are some highlights.
Words: Matt Pearce / Photos: Jarno Schurgers and Ydwer van der Heide / Red Bull Content Pool
Red Bull Megaloop 2019 went off today in absolutely mind-bending form. 16 of the sport’s top big-air riders with no time to prepare and on only 48 hours notice (some even less) amassed in Zandvoort this morning to be greeted with leaden skies, sideways rain and a steadily building wind that was being fuelled by a one day summer storm surge.
There was some speculation that the forecast was less reliable than a pumping autumnal or early spring storm, and indeed this event doesn’t usually go down in summer, but by the end of round one the wind was regularly gusting over 40 knots and, as the day progressed, the gusts were ratcheting up to 50 knots and even slightly beyond that. It was the conditions that big air dreams are made of and, combine that with a crowd a crowd of thousands lining the beach, we’re talking about the perfect storm!
Unlike King of the Air, a heat at the Red Bull Megaloop can be won with just one trick and I personally have never seen so many heats in any competition be won in the dying seconds or literally as the buzzer sounded in a couple of cases. Still, there were a few standouts for me.
LIAM WHALEY BEING GENERALLY SEAMLESS
Liam Whaley exploded onto the big air scene last year with his KOTA 2018 performance and he backed that up with another podium finish this year at the event. Here at Megaloop Challenge debut he only made it to fourth (which still isn’t too shabby) but what struck me is just how polished his performance was in pumping North Sea conditions. He threw huge boogie-loops, stuck high velocity landings that nobody thought he was going to make and he even managed to make it through the semis on a borrowed kite that he’d never ridden before after his own one malfunctioned in the opening minutes. The more I watch Liam, the more I’m convinced that he’s one of the most all-round performers in freestyle and, for his first time at this event, he was phenomenal. This year after KOTA he said he wouldn’t stop until he won that event and, based on how he rode today here in Zandvoort, I think that may just be a matter of time.
LASSE WALKER RIDING A 9 IN 50 KNOTS
Lasse was already going big, but he clearly felt that more was required. In his round three heat he was trailing at the halfway point and looking like he wouldn’t make it to the semis but when he came back to the beach and changed up to a 9 metre Dice it was clear he meant business. He headed straight back out and stuck one of the biggest mega-loops of the event, immediately changing the course of the heat and securing his route to the semis and, ultimately, the final. Sending a 9 metre in 50 knots and pulling the trigger on a mega-loop… just think about that for a second!
OSWALD SMITH SHOWING UP WITH ONE KITE AND MAKING SECOND
Ozzie had what may be his best ever performance in competition today. His all-in riding style lends itself well to events like Redbull Megaloop, but he hadn’t even entered this year’s event and was called in as a late replacement (literally the day before alongside Liam Whaley). That may have helped him actually, because he had no time to overthink the event or get stressed out about it which is something that he’s prone to do when it comes to competing. For all of his wild on-water antics, he’s a thinker and he really does want to win when he takes part in events like this. He’d actually travelled to the event with just one kite, an 8 metre Airush Razor, which was a pretty bold tactic but he had a game plan in place and he went on to do the most insane boogie-loops of the day. The one he pulled late in the final was what pulled him into second ahead of Lasse Walker and this result is a huge milestone for his competitive career.
ROSS-DILLON PLAYER DEFYING THE ODDS AFTER LOSING OUT IN ROUND ONE
Ross fought a battle for the ages today to become the second non-Dutch rider to win this event after his fellow South African Joshua Emanuel did the same in 2017. A poor start in his first heat meant he had to fight to stay in the competition in round two and every single heat was a vindication for him from then on in. He kept consistently throwing huge loops though and his sent mega-loop over the kite lines of 2017 champ Joshua Emanuel in round three locked down his route to the semi-finals and, ultimately, the finals. Becoming visibly emotional when he found out he’d won, it’s quite unsurprising really given that he’d travelled so far to be here his and competition experience is still so minimal in comparison to some of the riders he was up against today. Ross has put in decent performances in the past at KOTA, but has be just put his marker down as a member of the big air upper echelons? Time will tell..
1: Ross-Dillon Player – SA
2: Oswald Smith – SA
3: Lasse Walker – NL
4: Liam Whaley – ESP
Missed the action? Catch up on the full stream below!
Find out more about the Red Bull Megaloop at www.redbull.com/megaloop