Credit International Waterski Federation
The site preparation at the picturesque Predator Bay Club on the outskirts of Calgary was first class. With 175 athletes from 35 countries listed, the 2009 Waterski World Championships were an outstanding spectacle. Poor weather conditions early in the week posed an extra challenge. Glorious sunshine for the last two days made the Finals all the more enjoyable. Enormous Print, TV and Radio coverage captured the headlines all week long in Canada's oil capital.
The Championships had three parts - the Preliminary Rounds, the Saturday Finals and the Sunday Finals. The much anticipated official launch of the all new Ski Nautique 200 boat by Andy Mapple, past Slalom World Record holder with 166 Pro wins to his credit over a period of 20 years, was warmly received. Nautique were also the official boat suppliers of this 2009 World Waterski Championships. With spectators crowding the Bleachers, the support Rock Concert, busy Tented Village, Climbing Wall, Food Stalls, Beer Garden, Jumbotron Screens and 35 nations represented on the water, the final two days proved to be both testing and thrilling.
By Saturday evening, three World Champions were crowned - and only one retained their 2007 Linz, Austria, World Champion title.
Credit International Waterski Federation
The Ladies Tricks Finals produced six scores in excess of 8000 points. Of all 12 Finalists, 10 scored improvements over the previous round ! Ageliki Andriopoulou GRE and Tatiana Churakova RUS were the only two not to gain improvements. The 2005 World Champion Mandy Nightingale USA scored 7920 points - well below her Personal Best of 8740 points. Most disappointed of all was the hot Overall Title contender and World Tricks Record holder Clementine Lucine FRA. She scored 8040 points but hoped to get closer to her Personal Best of 8840. The rest was all good news. The 16 year-old World Junior Tricks Champion Iris Cambray FRA wowed the crowds with a score of 8400 points to move ahead of Maria Camilla Linares COL at 8290 points. Eventually it was all down to Canada's 19 year-old star, Whitney McClintock. The cheers and flags gave her a rousing start. Both her Toe and Hand passes were flawless. At 8740 points, this was almost a World Record performance - and the performance of her life. What perfect timing for the huge home crowd ! Whitney McClintock of Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, is the new World Tricks Champion.
Next came the Men's Slalom Finals. The featured band on the large stage on the water switched off as the best Slalom Skiers in the world prepared for the challenge ahead. Jean Baptiste Faisy FRA was first off - having taken that last Finals place in an eight-man run-off in the Preliminary Round. His 5 buoys on the 11.25m line were not be enough to gain a podium position. In fact, only he and Fabio Ianni ITA failed to run the 11.25m pass. Eight Finalists scored on the shorter 10.75m line. Two went further on the very short 10.25m line. Defending World Slalom Champion Thomas Degasperi ITA then set the very high target at 1 buoy on the 10.25m line. The 2005 World Champion, 27 year old Will Asher GBR, entered the arena. To a roar from the suntanned crowd, he put in a flawless performance with a score of 3 buoys on this same 10.25m line. Now it was all up to Chris Parrish USA, World Slalom Record holder. He must have known that he could take this title. However, as the crowd gasped, he went down with 4 buoys on the longer 10.75m line. The popular 2005 World Slalom Champion, Will Asher GBR, had regained his Slalom title here in Calgary.
The day finished with Womens Jump. Marie Vympranietsova GRE carried an ice pack on her right knee all day hoping to recover from an earlier crash. As the start approached, she decided to go for it. Unfortunately, in spite of some painful attempts, Marie Vympranietsova was forced to quit with that painful injury. Again, almost all the results showed huge improvements over the Preliminary scores. There were surprises. Regina Jaquess USA, co-holder of the World Slalom record, got to 50.7m knowing that would not be enough to take this title or to boost her Overall points situation. Maj Jepsen DEN scored a very impressive distance of 51.0m - certainly a rising star. Many expected this Final to eventually be a battle between June Fladborg DEN and the reigning World Jump Champion, Ageliki Andriopoulou GRE. That is how it turned out. June Fladborg laid down the marker with a distance of 51.1m. This could have given her the title, one of the very few she has not yet taken. Ageliki Andriopoulou also has an ongoing knee injury. She nursed it from day to day over the week. In spite of this, the reigning World Champion still pulled out all the stops to land the jump of the day with a distance of 53.7m. As the warm sun set over the Predator Bay Club site in Calgary, a very happy Ageliki Andriopoulou GRE retained her title of World Jump Champion.
Sunshine also greeted the enthusiastic crowd for the remaining Finals on Sunday.The last day's schedule included Men's Tricks, Ladies Slalom and Men's Jump. For the spectators the 26C sunshine plus a very light breeze made it a perfect day for enjoying the water spectacle.
The 12 Finalists in Men's Tricks produced nine scores in excess of 10,000 points. Having a father versus son on the dock also made this a unique occasion. Chasing the Overall title, Argentina's 31 year old Javier Julio set the standard right from the start with a 10,330 points score. He has had an outstanding season so far. The 19 year-old French athlete, Pierre Ballon, then pushed the leading score up to 11,030. What followed was for the history books. Cory Pickos USA set his first World Tricks record in 1977 - 32 years ago - with a score of 6860 points. This time around, he scored 9630 points. Not enough to win but nevertheless remarkable. Next on the dock was his 17 year-old son Adam. He won the gold Tricks Medal in 2008 in the U21 World Championships in Tianjin, China. His score here in Calgary was 10,180. Another remarkable achievement. The country of Belarus then took over the World Championships ! Oleg Deviatovski, who captured the silver medal at the US Masters in May, raised the bar to 11,220. Aliaksei Zharnasek then almost got into World Record territory with a spectacular score of 11,850. Next, 20 year old Herman Beliakou, fresh from his World Cup victory in Dubna Russia, posted a score of 11,490. Nobody could beat this outstanding trio from Belarus. It was a clean sweep with Zharnasek, Beliakou and Deviatovski taking gold, silver and bronze. In his own personal battle in the Overall challenge, Canada's Jaret Llewellyn had to settle for 10,400 points. Javier Julio's Overall title contention continued to be strong.
Of the 12 Finalists in Women's Slalom, 4 scored on the 10.75m line. All the others were stuck on the 11.25m line. It was unusual to see the past US Masters Slalom Champion Karen Truelove USA first off the dock. In setting a score of 0.5 buoys on the 10.75m line, she immediately put enormous pressure on the next 11 skiers. In fact, coming eighth off the dock, Karina Nowlan AUS, was the first to equal this. In spite of a dislocated collar-bone, Anais Amade FRA somehow then raised the barrier to 1.25 buoys on the 10.75m line with just two skiers to go. Canada's Beanne Wagner got a rousing welcome but went down on the 11.25m line. That left Canada's Overall contender and Saturday's Tricks Gold Medalist, 19 year-old Whitney McClintock, within touching distance of yet another gold medal. In spite of her young years, she showed a rare maturity in scoring 1.5 buoys on the 10.75m line to capture that second gold medal. Now her Overall title was also secured giving her an extraordinary medals achievement - ahead of Clementine Lucine FRA and Marion Mathieu FRA.
Finally, Men's Jump began before a capacity crowd. The Bleachers were full ! The last three skiers all shared the podium at the World Cup Stop in Dubna Russia just a few weeks ago. That guaranteed a thrilling finish. Almost all posted significant improvements over their Preliminary Round scores, having adjusted well to the unusual site conditions. Thomas Asher GBR was second off the dock. Once his score of 64.7m was flashed on the SplashEye scoreboard, all knew that big distances were on the cards. The European Jump and Overall Champion, Jason Seels GBR, then proved this with a possible winner of 67.5m. To a big roar from the crowd, the gold medalist at the 2009 World Cup title in Dubna Russia, Canada's Ryan Dodd, then took the lead with 68.1m. The drama at this stage was obvious to all. World Record holder Freddy Krueger USA versus Canada's waterski legend Jaret Llewellyn. What a prospect ! Llewellyn was still keeping an eye on the coveted World Overall title. In spite of a horrendous crash in Russia two weeks ago, he was back on the water carrying the hopes of Canada on his shoulders. The media coverage of this holder of 11 World records has been extraordinary. Now it was all down to the closing moments of the 2009 Waterski World Championships here in his country of birth. Krueger was first on the water. His jump set was very impressive - 69.1m, 64.2m and a huge 70.2m. Could Llewellyn do it ? It seemed the whole of Canada was watching. His first distance of 68.0m had the fans roaring approval. His second of 68.5m raised the hopes even further. When his final distance of 62.1m flashed on the scoreboard, the fairy tale ending had evaporated. The gold medal and title of World Jump Champion went to the superb World Record holder, Freddy Krueger USA - followed by Llewellyn and Dodd. The elusive Overall title was also just out of the reach of the extraordinary talent of Jaret Llewellyn. In that battle, gold medalist Javier Julio ARG had his lifetime dream come true, with Adam Sedlmajer CZE in second place and Jaret Llewellyn taking the bronze.
When the Overall Team tally was declared, Canada took first place, USA second and France third. This was truly a first class display of Canada's talent on many fronts. It was also a dramatic conclusion to a thrilling week in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
CONTACT : Des Burke-Kennedy, Media Chairman, International Waterski Federation
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Web Site : www.waterskiandwakeboardworldcup.com
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