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We were stoked to see an international park style event back in the public eye, with the recent Kite Park League’s Team Battle held in Hood River. The event had a different format to previous park events, and we spoke to Noè Font, organizer and competitor, to find out more about the event and what the future holds for park riding…

PHOTOS: James Ropner, Noè Font, Ramiro Gallart and Xander Raith

Thanks for talking to us Noè! Give us some background to the Kite Park League.

The KPL first started in 2016 when a bunch of riders decided to combine the results of the already existing park events around the world into a “world title” ranking. The Triple S was the main event with the most prize money and media coverage, backed with two or even three other events like the Palawan Open in the Philippines, Hood Jam (USA), Rhosneigr Park Jam (UK) and Kite Mansion Open (Brazil)… A solid international league with top level riders who also happen to be some of the most creative and media savvy riders in the industry.

Do you think there’s been a shift in focus away from park style recently?

There is no doubt the older generation of park riders have shifted focus in their own lives, moving on from pro riding careers into new chapters of life. The younger generation now has taken over and will carry the torch for years to come. Some factors that may have affected us are top riders moving on to other things, Covid of course, and the boom of the other disciplines like winging and Big Air. However that doesn’t change anything at a personal level for us. At this time, we are at a higher level of riding than ever before, doing new tricks (NBDs) every season, hungry to continue pushing our discipline, and doing what we love. As much as it is a niche community, people always have and always will love to do it, and it so happens to be the side of kiting most intimate to all other boardsports.

How do you think park riding can be made more accessible to the wider populous?

You hear it all the time: “Oh but there are no features to ride at my spot, that’s why I don’t do it.” We say Bullsh*t! Riding features is the easy part. The work happens behind the scenes – building stuff, getting your crew together, putting in the time and effort to make it happen. It’s not easy, even when you have it all set up something gets in your way. We paint a pretty picture in videos – you see the final product and it doesn’t look like a big deal, but if you’ve ever tried building a little something to ride with your friends you know the drill. And if you haven’t I encourage you to do so. It may be a lot of work but when you finally get to ride your own slider it’s so rewarding. It makes an individual sport like ours turn into a group effort and when that first session goes down every trick is a win.

I guess the new team format for the recent event reflected that ethos as it was a group effort. Can you talk us through how it went down, and do you plan to continue that format for the future?

Yeah I think we all agreed that it surpassed our expectations. Basically the idea was to make a team video contest for a week of riding in the Hood River kite park. We divided riders into five teams with top seeded riders from previous events in each team. The rules, very simple: three-minute videos with a minimum of one clip per rider and a maximum of ten. During the awards party, riders watched all the videos for the first time. We all had to let it sink in for a minute. It was crazy to see it all come together in such a short period of time but we each had to submit our votes for favorite video, and single awards such as best rider, best trick, line, crash, rookie and so on. You can find all the team videos on our website or YouTube channel. So far a lot of people have left comments and private messages on how much they enjoyed the format, so we are definitely planning to do more video events in the future. The team format really showcases what park riding is all about: the team spirit of working together towards a shared goal. One rider’s win is everyone’s win!

“The collective quality and level of riding showcased in the Team Battle was unrivaled. “

And did you get the same riders participating as previously?

We had 27 riders participating, most of whom had entered previous KPL events. However due to our late notice on the event dates many international riders couldn’t plan the trip quickly enough as the flights from Europe were pretty expensive. The lack of international talent gave local riders a chance to enter the comp. Combined with the video format, taking off the pressure of performing with a limited amount of hits, we saw riders put together personal-best video parts within their respective team edits.

Who were the main players in organizing the event? And when and where are the next events planned?

In the past Colleen Carroll was the main person behind all the Hood Jam events with help from others like Brandon Scheid, Rich Sabo, Craig Cunningham, Sensi Graves… but this year it was different. We had to step it up and make it happen, so Ewan Jaspan, Ramiro Gallart, Katie Potter, Lauren Holman and myself went for it and never looked back. Thankfully we could reach out to Colleen for some of the bureaucratic paperwork we had to get, but besides that everything else ran smoothly! The KPL is currently working on the 2023 calendar and we are excited to announce a comeback. Exact dates and event locations will be announced at the end of this year.

Lastly, how was the after party? Any stand out performances there?!

It was such a cool party at Ewan’s back yard – we had a 10ft wide projector screen to watch all the videos on. Hanging out, riding together, and watching kite videos with friends is what the KPL is all about. The night was fun, to say the least, or as Xander Raith put it: “The dust has settled and the 2022 Kite Park League Team Battle is complete, and with it comes a new standard for competitive park riding. Although past contests such as the Triple S, Hood Jam, and other Kite Park League events have fostered progression and acted as a host to some of the greatest riding of its time, the collective quality and level of riding showcased in the Team Battle was unrivaled and embodied the potential of park riding’s future projection. The riders, teams, videographers, photographers, editors, event staff, and everyone involved in the making and completion of the Team Battle delivered in full and have set the tone for the resurgence of the KPL tour.” We’re stoked to get another event off the ground and excited about what the future holds for park riding.

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