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Words by Trish Medalen for Red Bull Content Pool.
Freestyle Football fans were thrilled in Pula, Croatia, as the world’s 16 best male and eight best female freestylers put on a display of style and skill at the 2022 Red Bull Street Style World Finals.
In the men’s competition, the brilliant Norwegian brothers Brynjar and Erlend Fagerli went head-to-head in a tense final battle. Brynjar produced a great performance in his final global freestyle competition before retiring, but younger brother Erlend edged a close contest to win his fourth title and complete a historic three-peat in the men’s competition.
As the competition celebrated 10 years of female participation, American Caitlyn Schrepfer wowed the crowd with her acrobatic style and signature Cait-Flip, overcoming World Finals debutant Japan’s Miyoshi Miharu in the semis before beating one of the pre-tournament favourites and former world champion, Aguska Mnich, in the final to become the first female champion from the USA.
Speaking on her first-ever global title, Caitlyn said: “It is an incredible feeling and I feel so honoured. The final was such a close battle and Aguska is an incredible freestyler. Just to be on the stage with her is a great experience let alone being able to beat her. I am so proud to represent the USA on the global stage, particularly in a sport that continues to grow every year.”
Erlend said: “Right now this feels amazing, not only because I have won but because I was able to face Brynjar in the final. It was a dream come true for both of us to face each other in this amazing arena and I think we put on a great show. Today I would say that I didn’t necessarily win, but the Fagerli brothers did.”
In the battle for third place, 2021 champion Lia Lewis from the UK defeated Japan’s Miyoshi Miharu to claim the final place on the women’s podium, while in the men’s competition Colombian Boyka Ortiz beat Jeffry Chacón from Costa Rica for the second consecutive year.
The competition was judged by five of the most respected names in the freestyle football community including head judge Miran Pirner (Croatia), Fed Massignani (Italy), Tobias Becs (Norway), Michal Rycaj (Poland) and two-times World Champion champion Kitti Szász (Hungary).
This year saw the brand new Red Bull Street Style People’s Choice Award introduced, with fans around the world able to vote for their favourite female and male athlete from a range of clips from the Regional Finals. The first-ever Red Bull Street Style champion, Séan Garnier (France) was on hand to announce his fellow countryman Tristan Gac and Aguska as the inaugural winners of the People’s Choice Award.
The Red Bull Street Style World Finals capped off a remarkable weekend of Freestyle Football in Pula. With the organisers already looking ahead to 2023, during the event WFFA President Steve Elias announced that next year’s Freestyle Football World Championship Finals will be hosted by Kenya, marking the competition’s first return to Africa since 2010. Next year promises to be a ground-breaking year for Freestyle Football, as for the first time ever 16 female athletes will go head-to-head in the World Finals, marking a key moment of growth for the sport.
Experience all the thrills of the 2022 Red Bull Street Style World Finals again on the official WFFA YouTube channel:
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