Josh Kerr ran the inaugural Red Bull Airborne France today from start to finish and within four hours an event champ was crowned. Yago Dora came out on top in a 6-man Final against Griffin Colapinto, Jack Freestone, Kalani David, Matt Meola and Eithan Osborne. After 7 heats, 58 airs were completed.
In an effort to encourage the athletes to go for broke, judges made it clear prior to the event start that they would stick to a harsh curriculum.
"We're being fair but in order to get over the 6-point range we need to see something pretty special," said Airborne judge Shane Beschen.
Championship Tour rookie Griffin Colapinto was the first competitor to lay down a solid score this morning in Round 1 Heat 1. Colapinto earned a 5.33 for a reverse that got the crowd on their feet despite the cold.
"Conditions are tough but my goal is to lay down a couple of full rotations and find some good sections," said Colapinto. "It's cool to be surfing out here with guys that I don't normally get to surf against. I'm just proud to be a part of it."
Kalani David was also a Round 1 standout - earning a 5.17 and a 5.83 (the highest of the Qualifying rounds). While conditions were shifty, both David and Colapinto were able to capitalize early on and looked poised to go to battle.
As conditions became more complicated in the afternoon, event director/commissioner Josh Kerr opted for a one hour Final.
Nonetheless, the vibes on site were relatively relaxed (in comparison to the Championship Tour running in conjunction). Matt Meola joked before the Final, "I think I'm the grandpa of this heat. How old are all you guys? If I'm the oldest, I'm kind of proud of that."
But it was 22-year-old Yago Dora (who took a 3rd place in the Qualifying Rounds) that won the Final heat.
The Brazilian kicked things off early and landed two solid scores - a 6.67 and 4.93 - in the first five minutes to take the lead and hold onto it.
"I can't believe it, " Dora said. "I'm exhausted actually, an hour is too long for a heat. I was lucky to start on the inside by myself and I got those two good waves when everyone was still out there. Griffin needed a low score only and there's no priority so there was nothing I could do, I just tried to get another one but I couldn't."
Griffin Colapinto and Jack Freestone were the only two competitors in the Final that came close to Dora. Kalani David, Matt Meola, Eithan Osborne weren't able to get any solid scores up on the board. Colapinto threw up the highest score of the event with a 6.77 for a technical rotation but was unable to find the required back up score.
Dora took the win with a 1.06 lead over Colapinto.
"Airs are the future of the sport. I am so happy and excited to win this," continued Dora. "The judges are only looking for those progressive and innovative airs, so you just have to go for it."
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