Lords of Tram took place last month, and this year the biggest Big Air competition in France is a World tour event organized by the BAKL (Big Air Kitebaording League).

My role this year was as unexpected as it was rewarding!

After judging the competition for two years, this time, for personal reasons, I was not sure to be there, so I was not part of the judging team.

Attending such a competition is always a pleasure: enjoying the show offered by the best riders in the world, meeting friends, helping with the organization… these are some of the reasons why I decided to close my school for a few days to be part of the event.
The idea was to go to Lords of Tram as a spectator. But things turned out differently and something unexpected finally happened.

1. A change of role, from spectator to coach

Second day of competition, all riders on the beach and the siren signals the start of the competition. The participants launch their kites while their friends and family are ready to share the results with their phones. The show begins.

Lords of Tram has a particular format: the riders perform their maneuvers one after the other, 5 tricks per rider, the two best are selected, and a diversity bonus is awarded according to the versatility demonstrated. The wind blows off-shore, so all the riders return to the beach to rest between tricks and to know their position in the heat, thanks to the live scoring.

I enjoy the show and go back and forth on the beach watching all the groups glued to their phones to check the results. Everyone has a friend or family member to get the information they need.

Finally, it was the turn of a friend, Julien Huyn. A friend, but above all a very talented young man who had not been able to express all his quality during his last competitions. As a personal challenge, I joined Antonin Rangin to support Julien during his heat.

Like magic, I felt the same passion that has been driving me for years, but a bit differently. This time, it’s not about teaching and transmitting my passion for kiteboarding, but about supporting a talent so that he can express himself at best.

I arrive at the worst moment, Julien has just missed his first trick. The anxiety of having to accept another performance below his level reappears.

But, with Anto, we laugh, joke, and talk a lot with Julien. At first sight, he seems much more relaxed than usual. From then on, we constantly compare notes to determine the best sequence of maneuvers to get through.

Our goal is to build the confidence necessary to get the adrenaline flowing and eliminate harmful stress. The choice of the succession of tricks is essential in a competition like Lords of Tram.

Unexpectedly, Julien performed the maneuvers with the same calmness and quality as in his training. The result is incredible, a latebackroll board off as last trick allows him to take the first place in a very complicated heat!

Seeing Julien’s smile after the announcement of his result is an invaluable reward.

The next heat was Antonin Rangin’s turn. He simply asked me to stick around and give him the results on my phone. Of course, I agreed.

Lords of Tram 2021-Julien Hyun and the coach

2. The road to an unexpected podium

The heat starts and, beyond communicating the results to him, I feel a strong synergy growing with Antonin. A permanent confrontation to understand which strategy to use and which trick to propose. Anto, even if he is an international level rider (several times rider at KOTA), is incredibly humble and ready to accept advice and open to discussion.
The first round proved us right, Anto passed as first.

In the second round, Julien had to give up against the exceptional performance of Edgar Ulrich and the talent of Janek Grzegorzewski, two of the title contenders. However, his performance was excellent, and he finished with a third place and a score of 17 out of 24 points.

The draw was more favorable to Anto, who managed to take the first place again in a heat where the other riders failed to express their best, allowing him to continue to gain confidence without revealing his secret weapon.

The number of competitors reduces and, if until now the draw was in favor of Anto, in the semi-final the names are impressive: Andrea Principi, Edgar Ulrich and Giel Vlugt.
Andrea put incredible pressure on everyone from the first jump with the best scores. Edgar and Giel, two highly rated riders, had to react and raise the level to compete for the second place, eligible for the qualification. But the pressure and a gusty wind, played a bad game to both athletes: Edgar missed trick after trick and Giel did not perform as well as he would have wished. Anto took advantage of this and managed to secure all his tricks, showing a remarkable level and consistency.

But average performance is not enough, to succeed he nedeed to dare. And so, after discussing it together, we decided it was time to risk and play his trump card. The result is a crazy handle pass that projected him to second place and gave him a ticket to the final.

Once again, the level of the finalists is outstanding and apart from the unreachable Andrea Principi, who seemed to be in a state of grace, the other two candidates are the young talent Lorenzo Casati and the Colombian Beto Gomez.
Anto is once again the outsider. The final is really tight and picking the right choice for a podium is difficult.

We’ve been thinking together to find a strategy that can give results, knowing that the most important was to give his best and not have any regrets. And so… securing the basic tricks to gain confidence and put presson on the others, taking considerable risks when he was on top of the adrenaline, and playing on Anto’s variety and ability to do tricks that the other young finalist didn’t have in their arsenal, was the winning strategy.
The decision to do two different handle passes (executed to perfection) and great versatility guaranteed Anto an unexpected second place.

Lords of Tram 2021-Antonin Rangin and the coach
Lords of Tram 2021- podium

3. A suitable format for coaching

Trick after trick, it is possible to analyze the performance of the other players, to calculate the necessary points to obtain and to find the right possible combinations.

The questions you ask yourself as a coach in a competition like Lords of Tram are many and varied:
Start hard or secure the first points on the board? To put pressure on the others and reveal your game or to hide your cards until the end? Trying tricks that you are not sure you can do, hoping for the adrenaline rush of the competition, or securing the tricks you master? Go first or be satisfied with second place in the heat?
Everyone has his own strategy.

In addition, we are constantly working on the psycho-emotional aspect, in order to transmit confidence to the athlete who must perform high-risk maneuvers with a minimal margin of error. The challenge is not easy, but incredibly satisfying.

The Lords of Tram format is very suitable for coaching, and I am truly grateful to have had this opportunity and to have accompanied Anto to the podium.

Lords of Tram 2021- the athletes
Lords of Tram 2021- coach and livescoring

3. Rapport entraîneur / entraîné

It all started by chance, but that’s the beauty of it.
With Anto we have a mutual respect and working with a rider of his experience and ability is an honor for me. Several times selected for the Red Bull King Of The Air, Anto remains humble and attentive. Always ready to challenge himself.

Talking and chatting with him during the competition was as easy as talking with a friend over a beer at night.

In a relationship like this, trust is essential, as is constant confrontation. The relationship must be natural and not forced, or it creates negative pressures that interfere with performance.

Indeed, when you are in the action, it is not easy to stay lucid, especially in the wind conditions delivered by the North wind of Gruissan where the many breaks, due to the inconsistent wind, created tension and almost made you forget the tricks you had done until that moment. Take a close look at the situation, don’t make any strategic mistakes and convey calm to the athlete while showing him or her that you are there, it’s really important.

Conclusion

Once again, I am extremely happy to have participated at Lords of Tram.
A big big up to Tristan, my dear friend, who has succeeded in the challenge of creating a major international event in the south of France, bringing back great interest in this discipline, the Big Air, which is exciting even for neophytes.

I also thank Anto and Julien for their professionalism and for trusting me. I’m particularly fond of this side of my job but, in kiteboarding, there are few opportunities and competitions to express myself as a coach.

I’ve had another super experience and I’m even more motivated to convey my passion through teaching and to get more and more oriented in advanced courses.

Long live at Lords of Tram.

Photos and Video by Wareck Arnaud and ZoumProd.

THANKS FOR READING