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Five-Time World Champion - Aaron Hadlow

Apr 1, 2009

Author: interview by John Bryja photo by Tracy Kraft

Date of birth: Oct. 4, 1988
Place of birth: England
Weight: 165 lbs
Sponsors: Flexifoil, Red Bull, Chiemsee, Pro-Limit, Lost Cause

Aaron Hadlow finished the 2008 season in style with freestyle victories in Canada, Brazil and Chile. The string of wins put an end to Kevin Langeree’s challenge for the title and secured Hadlow an unprecedented fifth overall world championship tour title.

John Bryja: What was your favourite tour stop/contest in 2008?
Aaron Hadlow: For fun and as a place, Cancun, Mexico, was probably the best. It was during spring break and a couple of friends from the U.K. came with me. Possibly the funniest two weeks of the year. As for kiting, I enjoyed Venezuela. It is pretty idyllic—good kiting, warm and a nice atmosphere.

What would you like to see changed on the pro tour?
I would like to see less tour stops and different locations. This year was really long and tiring, and also going to the same place each year gets too much after a while. I think that is why I enjoyed Mexico. I really enjoy new locations. I would like to see around six stops next year, three with great new locations just focused on riding conditions and TV coverage, then three for media, prize money and spectators. Also with a good location, but only if possible. For example, Tarifa [Spain].

What is your strategy for riding in a contest heat?
It’s really psychological and about confidence. You can start off with a super-hard trick, and if you land it, your confidence goes through the roof. You put pressure on the other guys. But if you mess up, it’s reversed. Another way is to build up slowly, gain your confidence bit by bit and stack up the tricks. At the end, you can finish on some harder moves with less risk, but you have to make sure you have done better than your competitor.

What is the hardest trick in kiteboarding today and why?
Double handlepasses are obviously pretty difficult, but there are many ways around them. If you put your kite up, you have a lot more time and then it’s not so hard. Their perception is difficult, but I only have respect if the kite is in the same place as a proper powered trick. Less time means you rely on your body movement and timing. That’s why I think flat 7’s and especially 9’s are much more difficult. You only have body movement and your takeoff to determine your rotation and height. There is no way around it by moving your kite. With good kickers, 7’s are not the biggest deal, but that extra 180 to toeside has proven to be one of the biggest challenges I have ever had in kiteboarding.

Check out this video from Aaron Hadlow's film Calibrate courtesy

Who do you think is the best up-and-coming rider? What impressed you?
Tom Herbert stood out to me a lot this year. It was his first year on the PKRA and by the end of the season he was a top guy to look out for. I think next year he will do well. This year he needed to gain a bit of experience and consistency, and with this he will do well. When freeriding with him I have seen him pull sick tricks, things I haven’t seen many other riders on tour even attempt. Also, he has a good style. That scores a lot in my book.

What do you think of the new International Kiteboarding Association’s plans to hold world championships?

I think it could be good if there was one governing body to manage a scoring system or combine the two current tours. To side with one is not going to help the competitive side of the sport. In all sports there should be one world tour that gives you one champion.

Do you think kiteboarding’s inclusion as a sailing class by the International Sailing Federation is important? Is it good or bad for the sport?
I don’t think it is a bad thing for the sport in terms of awareness, although I do think it is a bad thing for its image. In my eyes, kiteboarding is freestyle. That’s how I think our sport should be portrayed. I want to help give it the image of FMX, and make it stylish and extreme. Being included by the sailing federation is great for people who course race, but it’s a totally different sport. I guess it comes about because of London 2012, but I would rather push freestyle into the X Games than racing into the Olympics. And if freestyle was in the Olympics, then that would be ideal.


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