24Aug09 Hot Sunshine, Big Crowds And Many Surprises In Exciting 2009 EAME Waterski Finals In Denmark

HRH Crown Prince Frederik congratulates Maj Jepsen

This was a well organized and happy EAME Waterski Championships at a first class site. There was much for the spectators to enjoy also ? plenty of food and merchandise stalls, water displays, BMX and Mini Bike shows, Rap singers on stage, plus excellent Opening, Closing and Prize Presentation ceremonies. Most of all, the Danish welcome feeling impressed all.

Saturday featured two Finals at the EAME Waterski Championships at Vallensbaek on the outskirts of Copenhagen in Denmark. Clear blue skies, sunshine and a slight head wind greeted the 85 skiers from 19 countries on arrival. The perfect scene was set for the Ladies Tricks and Men?s Slalom Finals.

With 12 Finalists from seven countries chasing three podium places, the Ladies Tricks line-up was bound to produce some great scores. Few however expected the resulting surprises. The obvious favorites were World Record Holder Clementine Lucine FRA, the 16 year old sensation and World Championships silver medalist Iris Cambray FRA, and Ageliki Andriopoulou GRE who is ranked number 3 in the World. None actually made it to the podium ! The great performance came from Natalia Berdnikova BLR, the defending EAME Tricks champion with a winning score of 8780 points. This welcome return to form was on the back of some confidence sapping recent disappointments caused by a slow recovery from a knee injury. To those present, this just reminded all of her enormous overall talents. Marion Mathieu FRA was also in great form taking the silver medal with 7270 points ? just ahead of Russia?s very experienced Tatiana Churakova?s 7110 score.

The 12 Men?s Finalists in Slalom comprised the new 2009 World Champion Will Asher GBR, the World Championships silver medalist Thomas Degasperi ITA, World Overall silver medalist Adam Sedlmajer CZE, and Slalom specialist Jean Baptiste Faisy FRA. Strong results were guaranteed. Again, the result was unexpected. Eight Finalists got to the 10.75m line ? and one moved further to the 10.25m line. The one who excelled today looked unbeatable ? and that was Thomas Degasperi ITA. His score of 1 buoy on the 10.25m line reminded all of his 2007 World Champion title. The new 2009 World Champion, Will Asher GBR, got stuck in a traffic jam with four others at 3 buoys on the 10.75m line. He eventually had to settle for the silver medal. The third place challenge produced a run-off between Adam Sedlmajer CZE and Frederic Halt SUI. Sedlmajer went first and scored 5 buoys on the 11.25m line. In attempting to beat this, Halt went down at 4.5 buoys on the same line and picked up a shoulder injury in the effort. He has since recovered but may require surgery later. Third place went to Adam Sedlmajer.

The last day here in Copenhagen, Sunday, also brought blue skies, a light breeze and sunshine. Water conditions were perfect. The programme included the Finals of Ladies Slalom, Men?s Tricks, Men?s Jump and Ladies Jump ? all in that order.

In Ladies Slalom, the defending EAME Champion, Sarah Green GBR, was busy with family matters over in Perth Australia. It may have been tiredness after a grueling month of major international events, but only seven of the 12 Finalists here reached the 11.25m line. Anais Amade FRA, in spite of a nagging shoulder injury, broke through with a score of 3.5 buoys on that line. She took the silver medal in the Calgary World Championships just two weeks ago. Four others got stuck at 2 Buoys on the 11.25m line. World Cup medalist Claire Lise Welter FRA got closest with a score of 3 Buoys on the same line. Nicole Arthur GBR, the 2007 World Champion, was last off the dock. She knew exactly what was needed to get ahead of Anais Amade and take the EAME title. Although conditions were perfect and she was in great form, she had to settle for the bronze medal here with a score of 2 Buoys on the 11.25m line ? just behind Claire Lise Welter. Architect Anais Amade continues to dominate.

All expected the Men?s Trick Finals to be a special experience ? and were not disappointed. Since Belarus took all three medals at the recent World Championships and their three athletes made it to this Final, high scores were guaranteed. Fifth off the dock, Pierre Ballon FRA, was the first to get to 10,000 points. Oleg Deviatovski BLR, the World Championships bronze medalist, then pushed the leading score to 11,320 points and set a new personal best performance. This put the new World Championships gold medalist Aliaksei Zharnasek BLR under unexpected pressure. Unusually, it was too much today and he had to settle for 11,160 points. So were we about to witness yet another Belarus clean sweep ? Herman Beliakou BLR, the silver medalist at the 2009 World Championships, was last to enter the packed Vallensbaek Club arena. He had already scored a new personal best of 11,490 points in the Preliminary Round. His performance this afternoon was exceptional. His score of 11, 570 points increased his personal best performance yet again ? and also won him the 2009 EAME Gold Medal. Oleg Deviatovski took the silver and Alaiksei Zharnasek the bronze ? in other words, another Belarus clean sweep in Tricks !

Next came the Mens Jump Finals ? and the weather conditions remained perfect. The defending medalists were all GBR athletes ? again ! Jason Seels, Thomas Asher and Damien Sharman were back to try for more EAME medals. German rising star Bojan Schipner set the pace first off the dock with a score of 60.2m. It nudged up slowly skier by skier to 62.3, by World Overall silver medalist Adam Sedlmajer CZE. Igor Morozov RUS continued his very impressive improvement progression to 65.5m and a new personal best score plus a new national record for Russia. Damien Sharman GBR has almost got used to taking third place on this EAME stage but today he showed a whole new talent with a very impressive personal best of 66.6m. Were we about to see a GBR whitewash again this year ? with only two British skiers left on the dock ? Thomas Asher came next but 65.1m for him was a shade lower than Igor Morozov and so the GBR dream was not on today. That left the defending champion and World Cup star, Jason Seels. Although he was a shade down on his 2008 score, his 65.9m was enough for the silver medal. Damien Sharman?s turn has arrived and he has that gold smile tonight

At this point, HRH Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark arrived to enjoy the EAME Championships. As a past waterskier, sailor, Polar dog-sledder, snow skier and marathon runner, he blended in very comfortably with our top athletes. Valensbaek?s Major Kurt Hockerup and Lars Lundov, chief executive of Sport Event Denmark were also enjoying the Finals in the company of Frank Tengberg-Hansen, Danish Waterski Federation President. With Ladies Jump just about to start and the TV cameras rolling, the closing hour had the crowd cheering throughout. Just back from the World Games in Taiwan, Jutta Lammi FIN set the scene immediately with a new national record for Finland of 49.3. However, the shock of the day arrived with contestant number five. Maj Lund Jepsen DEN took the bronze medal at the Calgary World Championships two weeks ago ? an unexpected career high for this young athlete. This Skandeborg skier now raised the roof here with a new personal best of 52.1m. The cheers could be heard in downtown Copenhagen ! The home crowd all seemed to have Danish red and white flags. Almost all the others struggled to get close to this score. World Record holder Elena Thomsen SUI scored 49.5m. Clementine Lucine FRA scored 47.7m. Iryna Turets BLR scored 48.7m. This is where the drama peaked. June Fladborg DEN, has won almost every major Jump title ? US Masters, Moomba Masters, etc ? and took the World Championships silver medal two weeks ago. This is home turf and she is last off the dock. It is June v Maj Jepsen ? and both are from Denmark. HRH Crown Prince Frederik is thinking back to his own jump moments ! June landed 48.0m on her first jump ? and struggled to get lift off the ramp. Her second was 51.8m ? just 0.3m short of the elusive gold medal distance. The crowd hushed. Getting enormous speed on to the ramp, jump three flashed up at 50.5m. To the surprise of all, including Maj Lund Jepsen, she had now added and EAME Championships gold medal to her World Championships bronze medal ? all in the space of two weekends. What a way to finish a great 2009 EAME Waterski Championships.

Open Ladies Overall

  1. Clementine Lucine FRA
  2. Ageliki Andriopoulou GRE
  3. Marion Mathieu FRA
Open Men Overall
  1. Adam Sedlmajer CZE
  2. Oleg Deviatovski BLR
  3. Herman Beliakou BLR
Overall Team Results
  1. France
  2. Belarus
  3. Great Britain

Slalom Winners Anais Amade, Claire Lise Welter, Nicole Arthur

Slalom winners Thomas Degasperi, Will Asher, Adam Sedlmajer

Tricks Winners Natalia Berdnikova, Marion Mathieu, Tatiana Churakova

HRH Crown Prince Frederik presents medals to Maj Lund Jepsen, June Fladborg, Nancy Chardin

Tricks Winners Natalia Berdnikova, Marion Mathieu, Tatiana Churakova

Jump winners Damien Sharman, Jason Seels, Igor Morozov

HRH Crown Prince Frederik congratulates Maj Jepsen