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The Warsaw Voice » Society » December 1, 2014
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Polish Kitesurfing Ace is World Champ
December 1, 2014   
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Karolina Winkowska, Poland’s best female kitesurfer, has for the second time become world freestyle champion, repeating her feat from 2012.

The title was a hard-earned success for Winkowska, who has ranked among the world’s top kitesurfers for years, and who had to settle for the runner-up spot last year following an injury.

The past season was an extremely busy one for Winkowska: she took part in 10 events in the Professional Kiteboard Riders Association (PKRA) World Cup on five continents. The season kicked off in Panama, where Winkowska scored a classy victory, pulling off a new trick that her fans have named KGB, which stands for “Karolina Goes Big.” In March, Winkowska took part in a competition in Dakhla, Morocco, where she surfed her way through cold weather and squally winds to third place.

After Morocco, Winkowska went to train in Egypt, which this year appointed her as its water sports “ambassador.” During training in May, Winkowska appeared in a promotional video highlighting Egypt as a destination for water sports enthusiasts. The video had almost 3 million views on YouTube in less than four months. The Red Sea proved ideal for training, as shown by Winkowska’s results in subsequent competitions.

The third event of this year’s World Cup took place in Leucate on the Mediterranean coast of France. Winkowska had never won an event there before and does not like the local weather caused by the cold Tramontana wind blowing from the Pyrenees. She did win this time, though, which put her back at the top of the World Cup standings. She remained there until the end of the season. In May, she won the first competition in Poland’s Ford Kite Cup in Chałupy, northern Poland. Then came the next World Cup event in Soma Bay, Egypt. Well-prepared and highly motivated as water sports “ambassador” for Egypt, Winkowska won again, to the delight of the many Polish fans watching her live. She also won over Egypt’s tourism minister, who became an avid fan of hers. In June and July, Winkowska took part in another Ford Kite Cup event and became Polish champion for the sixth time in her career.

Winkowska came in second in a World Cup event in Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands but she “made up” for that in August by winning the biggest World Cup competition—in the German seaside spa of Sankt Peter Ording. She followed up with another win in Tarifa, Spain, the home turf of her biggest rival, Gisela Pulido. This was Winkowska’s fifth win in the 2014 season.

In September, Winkowska came in third in Bara Grande, Brazil, after which she was back to Soma Bay for some intensive training. From Egypt, she flew to China for the final two competitions of this year. By now she was just one victory shy of becoming world champion.

The weather in Pingtan, China, was warm and windy with waves, just the way Winkowska likes it. It was neck and neck for the world’s two best female kitesurfers as Pulido won the first round and Winkowska the second. In the final, the judges overlooked Winkowska’s signature trick and a protest followed. A decision was made to repeat the finals the following day. Meanwhile, Pulido said she was injured, which forced the judges to postpone the big final until the next competition. The International Kiteboarding Association objected, as a result of which the Professional Kiteboard Riders Association announced a first-place tie between Winkowska and Pulido in the last event—and that meant Winkowska was now world champion.

Despite such a busy and exciting year, Winkowska will not be resting on her laurels and has already scheduled training in Australia and Egypt as she prepares for 2015.

Magdalena Lasocka

Karolina Winkowska was born Oct. 13, 1990, and lives in the Żoliborz district of Warsaw. She started kitesurfing in 2004. She loves all water sports as well as yoga and cycling.

Biggest achievements:
- PKRA world champion 2012 and 2014
- Runner-up in PKRA world championships 2013
- Third place in PKRA world championships (four times)
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