Just two weeks ago, it seemed that the entire world was at the 2009 Waterski World Championships in Calgary, Canada. With some serious jet lag and a very successful event in Ukraine last weekend, our World Champions have had little opportunity to display their talents since then. However, this week the annual Europe Africa Middle East (EAME) Championships here in Vallensbaek, Denmark, gave all a chance to get back on the water to challenge for some serious titles. Launched in 1947, the EAME Championships this year attracted 85 skiers from 19 countries. The Vallensbaek Club site comprises two excellent man-made lakes and is located just twenty minutes from Copenhagen Airport.
The Overall Team contest was completed on Wednesday. While France took the bronze medal at the Calgary World Championships, this time they took the gold medal here in Denmark. Their Trick strength is very impressive. The team comprised Clementine Lucine, Anais Amade, Marion Mathieu and Pierre Ballon. Belarus took the silver and Great Britain the bronze.
At this point, the Preliminary Rounds are not quite over. Thursday was a Tricks and Slalom day. In Ladies Tricks, yet again, all were stunned by the extraordinary talents of Iris Cambray FRA. She is the current World Junior Tricks Champion. Two weeks ago at the World Championships in Calgary, she took the Open Ladies Silver Medal with a score of 8400 points. This week in Denmark, she was pitched against the big guns once again. Her score of 8760 points in the Preliminary Round out-performed all others. She will be last off the dock in the Saturday afternoon Finals ? after Clementine Lucine FRA and Marion Aynaud FRA. It looks like being a French afternoon !
In Open Men Slalom, in testing breezy conditions, the line-up created a huge amount of anticipation ? new World Slalom Champion, Will Asher GBR, past World Champion and Calgary Silver Medalist, Thomas Degasperi ITA, World Overall Silver Medalist Adam Sedlmajer CZE, Glen Campbell GBR, Jean Baptiste Faisy FRA, and Boris Laval FRA. Any one of these could have dominated the Preliminaries. Twelve qualify for each Final. With 38 contenders on this occasion, the new World Slalom Champion Will Asher GBR came out on top once again with 3.5 buoys on a 10.75m line. Next in line were Thomas Degasperi ITA and Frederic Halt SUI with only 1.5 buoys separating all. The Saturday Finals should be a fascinating battle. With low wind levels and sunshine predicted, good scores are also expected.
In Open Womens Slalom, there were a few surprises. The Calgary World Championships Silver Medalist, Anais Amade FRA, was first off the dock in Series One. Her score of 3 buoys on the 12m line was only good enough for ninth place on this occasion. However, in spite of a persistent collar bone injury, she is delighted to have qualified for the Sunday morning Finals. World Games Overall Champion, Kate Adriaensen BEL, scored 2.5 buoys on the 11.25m line. This put her in third place in the Prelims. Claire Lise Welter FRA, won the Doha Qatar World Cup Stop title last season. She secured the second highest score of 3.0 buoys on the 11.25m line. Following a huge disappointment at the Calgary World Championships, the past World Slalom Champion, Nicole Arthur GBR, quickly returned to form here with a top score of 4 buoys on the 11.25m line. She will be last off the dock in the Sunday Finals.
While the skies were overcast today, Friday, the breeze had disappeared and waterski conditions were excellent. The Tricks and Jump programme again produced some excellent results. Men?s Tricks also delivered some surprises. The 2008 EAME Overall Champion, Jason Seels GBR, had a rare bad day. He did not make it to the Tricks Finals on Sunday morning. His team-mate Thomas Asher GBR will also miss the Finals. However, fresh from his silver medal performance in the Calgary World Championships two weeks ago, 20 year old Herman Beliakou BLR got an ovation here this afternoon with a top score of 11,490 points. Hot on his heels was World Tricks Champion Aliaksei Zharnasek BLR with 11,110 points. With Oleg Deviatovski BLR scoring 9540 points to qualify for the Finals, we may even see another Belarus whitewash here this weekend.
We finished the day with the Series 2 and 1 Ladies Jump Preliminary Rounds, plus Series 3 Men?s Jump. Again we had a few surprises. The 2008 EAME Jump and Tricks Champion, Natalia Berdnikova BLR, just had a bad day today. Her extraordinary track record of success slipped away momentarily. She was just 0.4m away from qualifying for the Finals. Third off the dock was Denmark?s June Fladborg. She has won virtually every major title except that elusive World Champion title. Today she dominated, much to the delight of the home crowd, with a best distance of 52.1m. Team mate Maj Lund Jepsen also qualified with 49.1m. These Silver and Bronze medalists in the Calgary World Championships were watched closely by the TV cameras today. Clementine Lucine FRA and Nancy Chardin FRA scored 51.0m and 50.8m and with June Fladborg, they were the trio who exceeded the 50m mark. All were delighted to see Elena Thomsen (Milakova) SUI, the holder of the World Record of 56.6m since 2002, also take a Finals place after a scare and crash on her last jump. No injuries, fortunately. Ageliki Andriopoulou GRE, who retained her title of World Jump Champion in Calgary two weeks ago, also qualified today with a distance of 47.7m. This Final promises to be a fiercely competitive one.
Large crowds are expected here in Vallensbaek, Denmark, on Saturday and Sunday. The weather forecast is excellent and sun tan lotion will be needed ! Live results are available at : http://waterski.online.fr