Kiteboarders embark on road to Rio

Top North Americans to compete at West Coast Open this weekend

The first step on the road to Rio de Janeiro in 2016 for the brand new Olympic sport of kiteboarding is set to take place in the waters of Howe Sound Saturday through Monday (Aug. 4 to 6).

The annual Pacific Pilsner 2012 West Coast Open and Canadian Kiteboarding National Championships are coming to town, with Olympic hopes on the minds of all racers.

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We have a fantastic slate of competitors this year, said Mark Leng, one of two race directors for this year's competition. We have 35 riders registered, 20 of whom are from out of town and travelling here especially for our event.

We've got some big international names coming to Squamish Spit to compete for the West Coast Open title, including Johnny Heineken (defending champion), Bryan Lake and Adam Koch. The top Canadian racers, including Adam Vance of Vancouver and Seattle, and Jessica Sickinger of Toronto, will be putting it all on the line, said Don Campbell, who is also a race director.

The Canadian standings from the weekend event will determine the Canadian Kiteboarding Association course racing rankings and titles for 2012, which will ultimately feed into the selection of representatives at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Vance, who represented Canada in the Olympic Format Trials earlier this year, is hoping to make his Olympic dream come true.

It was truly an honour to represent Canada at the Olympic Format Trials in Spain, he said. I feel like I helped make Olympic history by being an active and vocal participant in making the Olympic dream come true for Canadian kiteboarders. Now the challenge is to ensure the Olympic class of kiteboarding continues to have a vibrant and bright future and that it evolves into new thresholds of performance.

Course racing is scheduled to run all three days of the B.C. Day long weekend and spectators are encouraged to join in the fun and excitement at the spit, with music and a DJ to keep them entertained, along with a beer garden in the best spot to watch the racers as well as the local free riders.

Racing will take place on Saturday (Aug. 4) and Sunday (Aug. 5) from noon to 5 p.m., with the finals taking place on Monday (Aug. 6) from noon to 4 p.m. An awards ceremony for the event will take place on Monday at 6 p.m.

For more information on the event, visit www.squamishwindsports.com.

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