Big air, freestyle, slalom, wave, or hydrofoil racing on land, water or snow; kiting is a sport that, thanks to its versatility, is gaining more and more fans and enthusiasts. But is kiting just another typical ‘men’s sport’? Bibiana Magaji, the current Big Air World Champion, says `no, I wouldn’t say that ‘.
The 2016 IKA World Championship Tour includes numerous men and women from around the world competing against one another in various disciplines. The tour kicked off in Egypt and followed up with events in France, China and finally Sardinia. There are beautiful kite spots all over the world, and there is really only one thing that you have to be able to count on to make it work – wind! At the IKA Tour stops in Egypt and France this critical component was missed, unfortunately, especially for the Freestyle and Big Air competitions. To make up for it all of the athletes — including Bibiana — took the opportunity in China and Sardinia to really put the hammer down. Bibiana has been a team rider for FLYSURFER Kiteboarding since the start of 2016 and is on the path to success. In the Big Air comp she had some spectacular jumps with her BOOST2 and RADICAL5 which launched her into first place. In her Freestyle competition premiere, she surprised herself by successfully placing in second.
Bibiana Magaji is 34 years old and originally comes from Slovakia but is currently living in Austria and mainly focuses on Big Air and Slalom. She studied Business Administration in Vienna, is a VDWS kiteboarding instructor, and today runs her own “Whitecap” Kiteboarding online shop.
She has been riding without sponsorship for a long time. She is of the opinion that success is all in the mind, and she only has a clear head if everything around her is in sync. And right now things are in synch for her. She feels very at home with her team, also because she knows that FLYSURFER Kiteboarding stands behind her with trust and recognition. With this support and with help from the high-quality FLYSURFER products, she can take her skills and abilities even further, and thanks to the family-like climate she continues to take a lot of happiness from the sport.
Her fascination with kite sports began in 2008 when she was out snowboarding and saw snowboarders being towed by huge colorful kites. That immediately grabbed her attention and she knew that it was the sport for her! She started learning on her own until she found herself in a situation where she got lofted. She told herself she would not do that again. Beginners should always be trained at kiting by an experienced kite instructor! Learning by doing is very dangerous for yourself and for those around you. When learning through a qualified school, beginners can be ready to ride short distances after only a few hours and not after a year, as was the case with her.
Bibiana especially loves the feeling of being in the air, or a wave starts; the feeling of boundless freedom and attachment to nature and the elements! For her there is nothing more beautiful and she thinks you must have experienced it to understand it! She is always trying to improve, to take her skills to the next level, and to bring variety into her riding style. In order to keep fit and prepare for competitions, she kites as often as she can, and goes mountain biking and running.
Bibiana describes kiting as being multifaceted like no other sport. This allows anyone who is a even a little athletic to get into it. You don’t need any special physical conditioning, except for your health, appreciation of the elements and the outdoors, and respect for the forces of nature. This is why more women should dare to try the sport and have the opportunity to experience the wonderful feeling of kiting. “Sure, there are more male kiters than females; and males typically kite faster, jump higher and do riskier tricks, but this is the case with many sports. What makes me especially happy is that I can keep up with a lot of men.” says Bibiana on the position of women in kite sports.
Even the “2016 Big Air World Champion” is a bit nervous before her races. But as soon as she is on the water with her BOOST2 everything falls into place, and she is focused and ready to give it her all. Watching from the beach, it looks as if she has a relaxed smile on her face during every race. She is already looking forward to next year, where she will step up to defend her title wearing that same easy smile.
Congratulations with your 1st place in the overall big air ranking and with 2nd place in the overall freestyle ranking of the 2016 IKA world championship! Were you nervous, anxious or just happy during the heats? How quickly did you realize that you are the new world champion?
Thanks! Right before the heat I´m usually nervous. As soon as I´m on the water I feel relaxed, focused and ready to give it my best! After winning the Big Air Contest in China I was certain I could win it in Sardinia as well. To participate in the freestyle competition was a first time for me, that´s why I had nothing to loose. People later told me I had a relaxed smile on my face even during the final heat. You can say it was a perfect competition for me, I´m so happy and proud of myself!
This doesn´t mean that I´ll be lazy now. NO, I´ll keep practicing as often as I can and I will keep doing my best. Next year I want to show people that I really deserved the title!
Personally, how was the World Championship 2016 for you?
The first two stops in Egypt and France were a bit disappointing, since there was not enough wind for theBig Air competition. But I had a great time there and I met a lot of new people. The events in China and Sardinia could not have been any better. The weather was great and I was able to show my skills!
What is your favorite memory, regarding this year’s tour?
My favorite memory surely was the ceremony in Porto Pollo (Sardinia). It was such a special experience and feeling when we finally knew who the new world champions of each discipline were.
How do you prepare for such a competition?
I try to constantly improve myself! To jump higher, to learn new tricks and to be able to create more variety during my heats. Of course, the right diet is important for success as well. I eat healthy and I keep myself in good shape with running and mountain biking. Every now and then I also go to the gym if I have no opportunity to go kiting.
How often do you usually train?
I try to be on the water as much as possible, but that’s not always possible for me. Depending on the wind I do Airstyle, Freestyle, Wave or I go foiling. It also depends on the season and on the location where I´m at. On average I go kiting a couple times a week. At home it´s a bit difficult but when I´m traveling I´m on the water almost every day. Regardless of the weather I try to be in good shape and try to exercise a lot.
The World Championship is over, what´s you plan for the future?
I´m flying to Hamata/Egypt to meet some friends. For the winter I don´t really have any plans yet, I´m mostly quite spontaneous. The past winter I was In Cape Town, which was impulsive as well, so let´s see where it will take me this year. But I think I might travel to Asia or Central America this year. Back home I run a online kite shop and organize kite camps. My job has the advantage that I can operate my business while travelling and there is always something to do. I often use the winter season to go kiting, to explore new countries and to plan projects for next season.
Kiting seems like a typical men´s sport. What´s it like to be a women in a male domain?
Kiting a typical men´s sport? No, I wouldn´t say that! Sure, there are more male kiters than females; and males typically kite faster, jump higher and do riskier tricks, but this is the case with many sports. What especially makes me happy is that I can keep up with a lot of men
Should more women start kiting? If yes, why?
You don’t need any special physical conditioning. I think kiting if as multi-faceted like almost no other sport. This is why I feel more women should dare to try the sport and have the opportunity to experience the wonderful feeling of kiting.
How come you started kiting?
My first contact with the sport was actually a long time ago. In 2008 I was snowboarding in Italy and saw snowboarders being pulled along by huge colorful kites. I instantly like it! I loved the fact that they don´t have to do anything besides steering the kite; and they that they were really fast. Later I figured out that you can also „kite“ on the water . Which could be even more fun, I thought back then.
What fascinates you the most?
I love the feeling when a wave breaks in front of me and while being in the air. For me that´s pure freedom, knowledgably of the force of the elements. For me there is nothing more beautiful. But I´m of the opinion that you have to experience it to understand what I mean.
When have you started kiting and how?
In 2008 when I was a student I gave myself an old 12m C-kite as a Christmas present. My first tries were at light wind in the meadow. It took me quite some time until I actually rode the kite on the water, which was in Greece the following summer. It took me so long because my board was too small but I had no idea at that time. It´s almost funny because nowadays my students successfully ride their first meters on the water after only a few hours.
What do you advise beginners?
Go to a good school and get lessons! Learning by doing can be dangerous for yourself and others, it takes much longer and you most likely learn yourself some wrong moves, which can be hard to fix later on. If you don’t visit a school it´s likely that you lose interest in the sport because it doesn´t work out the way you wanted it on the first try. Therefore go to kiteschool and ask for proper teaching.
Do you have a sponsor? How do they support you?
Until recently I haven´t had a sponsor. In 2016 I was integrated into the FLYSURFER team as their team rider. For me it´s great to know they trust me; they give me my deserved recognition, which together makes me stronger and thereby I can improve my skills. Apart from the financial aid the social aspect of the team is of high importance for me. To be successful also depends on psychological aspects and only if you are able to think clearly you can actually be successful.
What do you like about FLYSURFER?
They have a family like environment and they are all pulling in the same direction. They are highly motivated and I enjoy working with them. The products are really good and of high quality. They put great emphasis on improvement of performance and further development. I feel pleased to be part of the team.
What´s you motto for life and kiteboarding?
„What doesn´t kill you makes you stronger!“ Sounds rough but it´s the truth. You fall down and it might hurt but you get back up and you notice that your own boundaries are not yet fully reached. You do it over and over again and at some point you see improvement! Never give up, you can do it and you´ll get rewarded.
Is there anything you would like to add?
You should live your life right; you only have only life and it´s way too short. Follow you dreams and don’t lose sight of your aims!