26Jul09 The Closing Moments Of The 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung Taiwan

Men's Barefoot Winners : Heinrich Sam RSA Silver, Keith St.Onge USA Gold, David Small GBR Bronze

Women's Barefoot Winners : Ashleigh Stebbings AUS Silver, Elaine Heller USA Gold, Shannon Heller USA Bronze

So, the final day for our sport here in Kaohsiung has arrived. The gods of the temples surrounding Lotus Pond, including Mazu, the deity of fishermen which governs weather at the Temple of Emperor Yuan, must have heard the prayers of the Barefoot Skiers. Fine conditions and calm waters arrived just in time for the final events of the Barefoot competition at the World Games 2009. The deluge on Saturday meant that two events, Men and Women?s Barefoot Tricks, had to be rescheduled to the planned reserve day today, Sunday. The Barefooters were certainly itching to get on the water to take advantage of the prime conditions. They needed some restraint in order to ensure that everything was in place including the TV camera man in the boat plus the safety and rescue teams ashore and on the water.

The Women?s Barefoot Trick final ultimately came down to a close contest between Ashleigh Stebbings (AUS) and Elaine Heller (USA). Stebbings, third off the dock, improved on her first round score with 2450 leaving Heller as the last skier with everything to do. Her 2250 was just not enough and the title went to the talented Stebbings.

Although winning both Barefoot Slalom and Tricks, to the surprise of many, Stebbings total score of 2747.25 was actually short of Heller?s 2844.84. This gave the Elaine Heller the gold medal, Stebbings the silver and Shannon Heller the bronze with 1915.21

Next it was straight into the Men?s Barefoot Trick final, Michael Paul MacDonald (CAN) put in a clean run of 7450 to take the lead with three to go. Next off the dock Heinrich Sam (RSA) improved on this with 8450 to become the new leader. Next came David Small (GBR) who disappointingly after a toe hold lost the handle to crash out. He also failed to hang on in his second pass earning 2700, a far cry from his score of 7450 in the first round.

Last off the dock was Keith St. Onge (USA). He put in a convincing pass, including a line step 360 and step 180?s and back, to score a total of 8,800 and also to add another title to his Slalom title. Heinrich Sam hung on to second place with MacDonald third.

This time two firsts for Keith St Onge in Slalom and Tricks were sufficient to take the Overall World Games gold medal with 2869.4. Sam with 2786.05 finished second, leaving David Small the consolation of bronze with 2677.83.

Commenting on her gold afterwards Elaine Heller concluded ?The event was awesome in particular my personal best jump of 18.2m.? This is understood to be a new US National record subject to ratification ? and a perfect ending to the 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung.