Elite Kiteboarders OK With Not Going to Rio Games - NBC Bay Area
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Elite Kiteboarders OK With Not Going to Rio Games

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    It was in and then six months later, kiteboarding was out as an Olympic sport for the Rio Games. But the world's top kiteboarders don't seem to be too upset about it. Colin Resch reports. (Published Thursday, June 30, 2016)

    It was in and then six months later, kiteboarding was out as an Olympic sport for the Rio Games.

    But the world's top kiteboarders don't seem to be too upset about it.

    "I think now we're at the point where we're happy that it isn't an Olympic sport," said Johnny Heineken, three-time world champion.

    Every other Thursday, Heineken and other elite kiteboarders congregate at the East Beach at Crissy Field in San Francisco. They race and they exchange laughs. What they don't do is complain about not being in the upcoming Olympics.

    Heineken's reasoning makes sense when one considers how much the sport and its equipment has evolved in the four years since it was voted into the Olympics.

    "If we were still riding the stuff that they would have decided we needed to ride for the Olympics, basically there would be like two people in the U.S. doing it at this point," Heineken said. "And everybody else would be on new, more exciting gear."

    In May 2012, the fledgling sport was voted into the 2016 Rio Games in place of windsurfing. But six months later, the International Sailing Federation reversed its decision - to the relief of many.

    Heineken, his sister Erika and others would have been forced to race on flatboards, which were popular in 2012. They are basically extinct in 2016. Anyone picking up the sport today rides foil.

    "And it's, you know, 20 percent faster than we ever were on the raceboards," Erika Heineken said.

    Now the governing bodies are taking aim at the 2020 games in Tokyo, where competitors likely would be foiling, kiteboarders believe.

    If the sport does make it in - and in to stay - 15-year old Daniella Moroz, of Moraga, and 16-year old Haydn Fischer, of Mill Valley, may be among the new elite four years from now.

    "The whole politics of it are really complicated at this point but it's definitely a possibility, and if it's going to happen then I'm definitely there," said Daniella, a student at Campolindo High School.

    Hadyn, who attends Branson High School, said, "I have my fingers crossed. It's a dream of mine, and it would be amazing to be up there representing the United States, hopefully with Daniella someday."

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