The five big changes in the PKRA World Tour
What's the difference between the single and double elimination? Why are scorings different for a similar trick? What tricks score best? The organizers of the PKRA World Tour put a lot of work and effort into changing the rules for the upcoming season to spice up the heats and make the tour easier to follow. Some minor but also a few major changes will make the tour much more attractive for a wider audience. We embrace those changes especially because things such as last years live stream were duller to follow than the broadcast of a 65 and above female golf tournament in Naples, Florida - and this is put mildly.
Now this will change! From some blurry dots 100 meters out there on the sea performing rotations that nobody besides a specially trained judge can distinguish to professional organized tour stops that are fun to watch no matter if on sight or on screen. Obviously, like for any other comp it's still more interesting to watch if you can tell a Crow Mobe 5 from a Blind Judge 7 but even if you can't at least you wont get confused with the rules anymore.
Click on the topics below to jump right to the changes you are most interested in:
- The competition ladder
- The competition area
- The judging criteria
- The contest types
- The prize money and title
The competition ladder:
First Trials, then Single and then finally the Double Elimination. This was the old system that often led to confusion and required a lot of time and therefore wind to run the whole event.
To get rid of the trials, there will be only two qualification events from now on. The first quali event will be the Tour opener of the new 2015 season, taking place in Dakhla, Morocco. The second one will take place mid season. Everybody who's not already pre-qualified from last season is free to sign up and fight for one of the open slots for the first half of the 2015 season. Also there will be some wildcards for local riders and pros that were previously injured.
To further speed up the contest and make it more interesting, the Singles and Doubles merge into the so called "Dingles".
In total 24 men and 12 women will compete. In the first round there are three riders a heat with the best jumping directly into round three. The second and third ones have another go in round two to secure their space in round three too. From there on it's a classic KO system. Easy and quick!
For more details click here to see the new competition ladders and how to qualify, !
The competition area:
To make the event more interesting to watch the event organisation heavily reduced the competition zone. Tricks must be shown in a square marked by buoys (about 50-75 m apart in width and length), making it easier for the spectators and cameras to follow the riders while also improving the judging. New is also that only one rider at a time is allowed to show tricks in that area and interferences are penalized with heavy point reductions.
While shrinking the trick zone and introducing the 'one-at-a-time' rule are major changes, the heat length was only subject to a minor change: The first heat of the Dingles with three riders will be 10 minutes while the one-on-ones will keep their well known 7 minutes rhythm. We are curious if the riders can pop as many tricks as in the previous years or if there will be fewer but therefore more demanding tricks... Either way, heats will become more of a mind game as the riders will have to watch the tricks of their competitors in order to know when to enter the comp-zone.
The riders themselves are torn about this change:
Michael Schitzhofer: "I think the change of the competition area to a smaller one is something interesting. It will be quite an adaption for the riders in the beginning but I think it's good for spectators and the live stream and it will be a reward for all of us in it."
Val Garat: "It's gonna be really tough at places where the wind is gusty. But it will improve the judging a lot!"
The judging criteria:
Kite high, kite low? Clean landing vs. powerful pop. The judging of the tricks always felt very subjective and was hard to understand. Now it is broken down into three main points:
- Intensity (Counts 40 %): power and height – Reflects how big and powerful the trick is performed.
- Technical (Counts 40 %): technical difficulty and execution – Reflects the technical difficulty of the executed trick.
- Performance (Counts 20 %): smoothness, innovation and risk factor – Reflects the performance in terms of fluidity, originality and energy for each trick.
There will be five judges watching every heat, each contributing 20 % into the final score. Therefore two will watch the intensity of the trick, two will judge the technical performances of the riders and one will score the general performance of the competitors.
Noè Font: "With the judging of this sport everything is very subjective so you’ll never find a criteria that works precise and consistent."
While the riders can show new tricks and prove their creativity, the categories of the tricks didn't change. We put together the official trick list here which hopefully gets extended by the end of the season with new tricks. Nevertheless, we are curious how the judging will effect this years riding style and trick repertoire and hope that it becomes easier for the audience to understand who won.
The contest types:
The enormous success of the Red Bull King of the Air proves it: Big Air is what get's the adrenalin of the crowds (and obviously of the riders) flowing! Therefore the PKRA decided to have Big Air contests at each spot that delivers the wind to go big!
Find out more about the Big Air contest!
Also we can expect to see more wave events in this year with contests at each tour stop spot that has incoming swell.
Click here to find out more about the judging criteria for wave competitions
In the announcement there was hardly a word about Racing / Slalom, which leads to the assumption that there will be hardly any rule changes. What are your thoughts on racing? Give us your ideas on Facebook using #PKRAChanges!
The prize money and title:
Ka-Ching! The prize money for this years tour was significantly increased. Now it becomes a big deal to win a tour stop with some serious prize money in the pot! There is a 35 % increase in Freestyle price money, 100 % increase in Wave and Slalom and 300% in Big Air compared to 2014.
The prize money for the first tour stop in Dahkla even doubled, from $47k to $90k. This will lead to greater competition and an increase in the level in general as the riders will become more determined to win. We are curious about the impact which this will have.
The 90,000 Dollar prize money in Dakhla will be distributed as following: $50k is planed for the freestyle event and $20k each for Big Air and Wave. For the freestyle part of the event, this will result in the following prize money:
$35,000 for men and $15,000 for women. This results in $7,000 for the male winner while even the riders who end up 9th (a place shared by 8 riders) will receive $840. Below you can see the key about the money.
This year the riders will not only compete for the increased prize money but also for a new title: "The Overall Kitesurf Tour Champion". Over the season points will be given for all results at each tour stop in each category (Freestyle, Big Air, Slalom and Wave), added up on an overall ranking. At the end a winner is crowned. If there will be prize money on that new title is not yet confirmed. Of course there will also the official World Champion titles per discipline and division: Freestyle, Wave and Slalom.
Two times freestyle world champ Youri Zoon is skeptical about the new title.
Youri Zoon: "The new Overall title will lead to riders claiming to be World Champion but basically they just committed to every single discipline and did ‘okay’ but they did not necessarily stand out over the rest."
What do you think about those changes? Give us your honest opinion on Facebook using #PKRAChanges!