The Sesena Waterski Centre on the outskirts of Toledo in Spain was perfect for Slalom skiers at these championships. With 33C / 96Fh and flat calm water for this first day of the Seniors event, there were some thrilling moments for the spectators. The day began with Senior 2 Men / Series 3, and the best performance came from Rafael Funari Negrao of Brazil with a score of 4 bouys on the 11.25m line / 35 off. In the following Series 2, nobody could beat that score. Ulf Skande of Sweden got closest with 3 buoys on the same rope.
All waited for Series 1. The main reason was that this contained some super stars - Andy Mapple (GBR), Mike Morgan (USA), defending champion Thierry Malhomme (FRA) and Franz Oberleitner (AUT). With a total of 43 Slalom skiers chasing just 10 Senior 2 Finals places, the tension around the starting dock was as severe as ever ! Maple was the first of these rare athletes to be tested. Anything better than 4 buoys on the 11.25m line / 35 off would give him the lead. Never one to settle for mediocrity, he had a flawless 10.75m pass / 39 off - and even went on to score 1 at 10.25m / 41 off. This did not look like a retired Slalom skier to anybody present ! Mike Morgan came next. He also was flawless. His 5 buoys on the 10.75m line / 39 off got him straight to the Finals. Defending champion Thierry Malhomme (FRA) got a standing ovation when he responded fully to Andy Mapple's challenge and also posted a score of 1 buoy on the very short 10.25m line / 41 off. Inspired by these performances, Franz Oberleitner (AUT) looked very sharp also today and his 3 buoys on the 11.25m line was just enough to earn him a Finals place. All are looking forward to the weekend.
In Ladies Series 2 Slalom, Mary Koenig (USA) posted the best score of 4 buoys on the 13m line / 32 off to earn her a Finals place. However, earning bravery medals today was Cristina Medem (ESP). She is just recovering from serious shoulder surgery and is also one of the very busy organisers with Ricardo Botas. Against this challenge, she scored 3 buoys on the 13m line for a place in the Finals.
This first day finished with Senior 1 Ladies Jump. A slight tail wind and some darkening clouds caused a little concern but all adjusted very well. One athlete absolutely dominated today and that was the first lady in the World ever to exceed 50m - Brenda Baldwin (USA). Brenda's distance of 40.8m / 134ft, was 3.3m ahead of her nearest rival, Olga Kashitina (RUS)
For all the latest results throughout the event, just click here