Teen phenom Christian Tio leads banner field for new season of ICTSI Philippine Kiteboarding Tour
Teen phenom Christian Tio leads the PKA's sponsored athletes for the ICTSI Philippine Kiteboarding Tour. Jaime Campos

FILIPINO-Norwegian star kiteboarder Christian Tio leads a banner field of competitors in the ICTSI Philippine Kiteboarding Tour set to take on a wider reach in its fourth season.

The Philippine Kiteboarding Association (PKA) unveiled plans for the new season during the press launch held at the Mango Tree in Bonifacio Global City on Thursday. This year, PKA sponsors one female and four male kiteboarders, led by Tio, in the competition as they aim to develop national representatives for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Argentina.

Tio, the 16-year-old phenom, appears to be their best bet in growing the sport’s popularity among young Filipinos as well as putting the Philippines on the kiteboarding map. He was recently named Asia’s Top Kiteboard athlete and bagged 2nd place for two consecutive years in the Freestyle category at the U15 Junior Virgin Kitesurfing World Championships in Costa Brava, Spain.   

PKA president Jay Ortiz also said there is a possibility that kiteboarding might be included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and feels that young Filipino kiteboarders like Tio might have a chance to compete in that arena.

“The (type of disciplines) have yet to be determined but if you ask me about our chances in a twin-tip race, we’ll have a fighting chance because we have four years of experience in twin-tip races and our athletes pretty much have experience in that discipline,” he said.

For this year’s competitions, the tour makes stops in four locations, namely Boracay, Cuyo Island in Palawan, Bantayan Island in Cebu and for the first time in Cagbalete Island in Quezon.

There will be three competition disciplines: a race where athletes will go around a course marked by buoys and the fastest to the finish line wins; a freestyle event for big air jumps coupled with tricks while airborne; and hangtime where athletes with the longest airtime with their boards off the water wins.   

The PKA said each stop should draw around 150-170 participants from 20 countries in Asia, Europe and the USA. Competition brackets would fall under Kids, Men, Women, Novice and Masters.

A total of $40,000 in cash prize and kiteboarding gears will be awarded to the top five finishers in each discipline.   

Follow the writer on Twitter: @rhoelfernandez