Saturday 25th July 2009 proved a challenging day for the Chief Judge of the Waterski events at the World Games. Having to juggle an already tight competition schedule which was repeatedly interrupted by torrential showers, Dimos Alexopoulos (GRE) and the IWSF team lived up to the challenge. All but Men and Women?s Barefoot Tricks remain to be completed on Sunday 25th, the reserve day established in advance for this very purpose. Good planning.
All began in ideal conditions for the Barefoot Women?s Slalom Finals. Ashleigh Stebbings (AUS) with 13.6 points succeeded in holding off the challenge of the Heller sisters Elaine and Shannon (USA).
During the Men?s Slalom Finals the heavens opened once again and continued for over forty minutes. When skiing recommenced the water conditions remained calm. Penultimate Barefoot Skier Sam Heinrich (RSA), with a score of 17.4, left the current World Barefoot Slalom Champion, Keith St. Onge (USA) with a huge challenge for his concluding turn. St. Onge wasted no time in putting in multiple Slalom wake crossings to eventually secure the title with a score of 18.2.
Next came the Tournament Men?s Jump Finals. Min Ji Hoon (KOR) scored a good opening jump distance of 52.4m plus an improved 54.5m on his second. Fourth off the dock, Bojan Schipner (GER), equaled this distance on his third and final jump. Storm Selsor (USA) then stretched this to 56.8m. Esteban Sierget (COL) matched this on his third jump. Second last Jumper Martin Bartalsky (SVK) could only equal the 54.5m of Min and Schipner before Rodrigo Miranda (CHI) pulled out all the stops to clear 57.3m in his opening attempt. The Chilean extended this to 57.7m on his final jump to capture first place and seal victory in the Overall Tournament Medal competition. Storm Selsor and Martin Bartalsky (SVK) took silver and bronze Overall places respectively.
The Women Wakeboarders were next in their Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). Two Riders from the pool of six would proceed to the Final. Mediterranean Games Champion Ginevra Gentile (ITA) and Elke Venken (BEL) made the cut. The Men?s Wakeboard Semi-Finals followed. The top three from two heats of six Riders would progress to the finals. Having reached this stage via the LCQ, Padiwat Jaemjan (THA) went big to score 74.4 to secure his Finals place along with the two Koreans Park Sung-Jun and Kim Yong-Il. In the second heat, past World Champion Andrew Adkison (USA) topped the pool with 82.4, ahead of Shaun Faccio (RSA) and Kyle Rattray (CAN).
Constant squalls again interrupted play. The schedule was therefore altered. Instead of commencing the Barefoot Trick Finals, for safety reasons the competition continued with the Wakeboard Finals.
To the great disappointment of the spectators, the talented Chen Li-li (CHN) failed to live up to expectations while Miku Asai (JPN) put in a good pass to secure 3rd place. World Cup star Raimi Merrit (USA) also scored a credible performance finishing with a KGB and a score of 76.1. This really pushed final Rider Dallas Friday (USA) to respond. Her enormous experience really gave her the edge. Despite a fall on her return pass her high intensity performance and score of 76.8 was just good enough to capture the gold medal on this occasion.
In the Men?s Wakeboard Finals, Padiwat Jaemjam (THA) landed the first high scoring double-up of the day. In spite of this, his and Canadian Kyle Rattray?s passes could not match the composition and intensity of Andrew Adkison (USA) who convincingly earned World Games gold.
Barefoot Jump Finals then replaced the Barefoot Tricks for women and men but again were interrupted by showers. Elaine Heller (USA) taking 1st place with 18.2, was well ahead of Ashleigh Stebbings (AUS) with 12.9. Svenja Hempelmann (GER) took 3rd.
In the Men?s Barefoot Jump Finals, with two skiers still to go, Heinrich Sam (RSA) held the lead with his second jump of 23.6m. Andre De Villiers (RSA), in his second jump, equaled this and with his final jump took the lead with 24.1m. David Small (GBR), current World Barefoot Jump Record Holder, warmed-up with a testing 23.1m before going for a big one in his second jump of 26.2m to take the Men?s Jump title.
As night eventually fell, the medal ceremonies for Tournament Men?s Overall and Wakeboard Men & Women concluded activities at Lotus Pond for the day. Barefoot Skiing will resume at 08:00 on Sunday 26th July 2009 with the Men and Women Trick Finals. The last award ceremonies are scheduled for 10:30hrs ? and all are hoping for a dry morning ahead !