This was a challenging day for our athletes. Rain squalls passed over the World Games City of Kaohsiung in Taiwan. Variable weather conditions impacted the competition with several stoppages. However, after the showers the waters of the Lotus Pond Waterski site once again flattened out, providing better than expected conditions. Barefoot Jump and Tricks, Tournament Slalom, Tricks and Jump, plus Wakeboard, were all on the agenda for today.
During the Barefoot Jump competition several athletes came very close to scoring record distances but in the process, they failed to ski away and sacrificed the benefits. After the prior day?s postponement of the Women?s Preliminary Barefoot Jump round, conditions were excellent when they got underway around 06:15hrs. As the Chief Barefoot Judge, Brian Price, commented ? Unfortunately we had to forego an audience at that time of the day in the best interests of athletes safety? Topping the list in distances were Elaine Heller (USA) 14.1m, Ashleigh Stebbings (AUS) 13.6m, and Tao Jia (CHN) 10.6m.
As this is an Overall event ? the triathlon of Waterskiing - having completed the preliminary programme, the top six women including Kate Adriaensen (BEL), Manon Costard (FRA), Caroline Hensley (USA), Megan Ross (NZL), Jenna Mielzyniski (CAN) and Jutta Lammi (FIN), all progressed to the Finals. Consequently it was these six skiers who continued this morning with Women?s Slalom. Megan Ross set the standard with her score of one buoy on the 11.25m line. Caroline Hensley fell just short with five on the longer 12m line. Then Kate Adriaensen equaled Megan Ross?s leading score to tie for first place. This was a very tight competition.
Men?s Tournament Slalom Finals followed. Here Nick Bottcher (GER), starting fourth out of the ten men Finalists, was the first to complete the 12m line pass with a score of 2 buoys on the 11.25m line. Bojan Schipner (GER) scored 1.5 buoys on this same line. Unfortunately, once again proceedings were interrupted by rain but not for long - and it wasn?t the last time. The penultimate Men?s Slalom Skier, Martin Bartalsky (SVK), then raised the score to 3 buoys on the 11.25m line, a target which the last Skier Rodrigo Miranda (CHI) missed, scoring just 1 at 11.25m. It was a good day for Slovakia?s Bartalsky.
In the Ladies Barefoot Tricks event, Chinese Taipei Barefooter Liao Chun-Yi took a bad fall and unfortunately was hospitalized. Somewhat surprisingly Ashleigh Stebbings (AUS), with a fall on each pass, still managed to hang on to third place with 1600 points losing out to Danielle Tipping (CAN) and winner Elaine Heller (USA).
The Wakeboard Riders then took to the water for two Last Chance Qualifier Heats. Here we saw Padiwat Jaemjan (THA) and Walter Gianini (ITA) claim positions in the Semi-Finals, along with Shaun Faccio (RSA) and Paul Hernaez (FRA).
Women?s and Men?s Tournament Tricks followed with Caroline Hensley (USA) scoring 5670, Kate Adriaensen (BEL) 6490 and Manon Costard (FRA) 6790. Adriaensen was in top form today in all disciplines.
In the Men?s Trick Finals it was Chile?s Rodrigo Miranda who took first spot with 7880 points, followed by Storm Selsor (USA) 7270 and Alejandro Lamadrid (MEX) 6880.
The Barefoot Men were next on the water for their Preliminary Round of Tricks. As the Chief Judge raced to complete the schedule before nightfall, including the Women?s Jump Finals, with rain seriously disrupting the days programme, Men?s Tournament Jump Finals were postponed to Saturday.
Finally, knowing that she needed a 37.5m jump distance to take the Overall World Games title, women?s Jumper Kate Adriaensen (BEL) was last on the dock. As night approached, she expressed concern over the low light level. Building up the drama, her first jump fell short at 37.1m. Undeterred, she jumped again and this time scored 40.0 m to secure the title in a thrilling finish. With one attempt still remaining, in the deteriorating light she went back for a final jump and clearing over 41m. she proved her well earned title of 2009 World Games Champion.
After the award of certificates to the Tournament Skier winners, IWSF President Kuno Ritschard and MS Emily Hsu, CEO of Kaohsiung Organising Committee, presented medals and mascots respectively to Caroline Hensley (USA) bronze, Manon Costard (FRA) silver, and Kate Adriaensen (BEL) gold.
Waterskiing continues tomorrow, Saturday, the penultimate day of the The World Games 2009, with an action packed schedule of competition.