The Cayman resident, originally from the U.K., recently signed on with Slingshot Sports, an Oregon-based company that started in 1999 and provides gear to top riders. For Strzalko, 33, it is her second major kite surfing contract, having signed with Shinn earlier this year.
Strzalko said the deal with Slingshot came about after a recent competition in Hood River, Oregon.
“Having just signed the contract, it is all now official, I am on Slingshot’s international team and I can tell you more about it,” Strzalko said. “My trip to Hood River was my opportunity to go for it, my dream of riding for Slingshot. I knew I was going to be around some of the biggest names in the industry and I really wanted to make a good impression both on and off the water.
“I spent a lot of time with all the Slingshot crew and really got on great with them. I am very excited to be working with them. I was lucky enough to get to spend some time with Jeff Logosz, the CEO of the company and we had a very good talk. This is something I have been working toward since January and even though I knew it was a little very much out of my reach, I still wanted to go for it.
“I have never been this happy and proud. I am over the moon with my contract, it’s an amazing deal, it’s one I could most certainly not pass up. I am on the best kite team out there, in fact Slingshot just won kite brand of the year.”
Slingshot Sports earned their 2013 distinction from the Association of Wind and Water Sports Industries, which represents North American manufacturers, retailers, and schools in the sports of kiteboarding, windsurfing, and stand-up paddle boarding.
News of the Slingshot deal comes as Strzalko targets a berth on the Professional Kiteboard Riders Association World Tour. There are three stops left this year as China will host two events: the Pingtan Kiteboarding World Cup from Oct. 22-27 and the Haikou/Hainan International Kitesurf Festival between Nov. 1-6. Argentina will host its own World Cup event from Dec. 3-8.
Strzalko is no stranger to China, recently finishing fifth overall at “Kiteboard Tour Asia,” when she competed on Pingtan Island. She faced eight competitors, from countries including Australia, Japan and the Philippines, in the freestyle segment. Prior to China, the photographer competed in Mexico, Oregon and Brazil.
Of those recent stops, Strzalko said the Oregon event was a memorable challenge.
“The conditions were like nothing I have ever rode in before, so it was a huge challenge to be able to showcase my kiting. It was blowing between 30 and 35 knots, conditions we rarely get here in Cayman. The river swell was huge, plus there was strong currents.
“The standard of the other girls was so high, so I was very pleased to have even competed with them. I almost made it to the final but just didn’t land my most difficult trick but I’m proud I went for it. I have no regrets.”
Strzalko, who has been in the sport nearly four years, has benefitted from the tutelage of Jhon Mora and Kite Surf Cayman, which is based in Barkers in West Bay. Competing abroad only began for Strzalko last December, and came with injuries and knee surgery. Going forward, Strzalko, Mora and other Cayman-based kite surfers have plans to host athletes here next February, at this point it is dubbed T.R.I.O, with a local meet tentatively planned for November.
Strzalko, meanwhile, says she will be meeting sponsorship obligations.
“In three weeks, I am going to go and shoot the new promo video for 10 days with the rest of the Slingshot team, which is a little overwhelming because they are some of the best kiters in the world. I feel so lucky to be part of it and to have the opportunity to kite with them and learn as much new stuff as possible. I am going to be like a big sponge, just soaking it all up. I’ll process it all when I get back.”