All agreed today. The Slalom and Tricks Finals were about the best even seen at a World Championships. The cocktail of elation and heartbreak gave the Linz Steyregg audience in Austria an event to remember forever.
It started with Ladies Slalom. Jamie Metcalf NZL was the first of the 12 Finalists off the dock. Her 2.5 buoys on the 11.25m line set a very challenging pace. Marion Mathieu FRA and Whitney McClintock CAN both retired with injuries. Clementine Lucine FRA was 6th off the dock and raised the standard to 4 buoys on the 11.25m line. The reigning World Slalom champion, Regina Jaquess USA was first to get on to the 10.75m line and her score of one buoy looked like a possible winner. Karina Nowlan AUS had an injury last year and when she also cleared the 11.25m line, she was overjoyed. However, a timing glitch forced her into a re-ride. That 2006 injury must have given her some serious concern. Minutes later, she waved to the crowd with a great 1.5 buoys on that 10.75m line to take the lead. Karen Truelove USA, ranked number 2 in the World, tied with Nowlan with just two athletes remaining on the dock. The young Nicole Arthur GBR was next. As she has not competed in the World Cup series, many were not aware of her talents and did not know what to expect. Minutes later, her score of 2 buoys on the 10.75m line told all that this was a very special talent. With only April Coble Eller USA left on the dock, Arthur knew she would be on the podium. Coble Eller however did not reach the 10.75m line and so Nicole Arthur became a very well deserved 2007 World Slalom Champion ahead of Karen Truelove and Karina Nowlan.
Mens Slalom had the unusual sight of the World Record holder being first off the dock. Chris Parrish USA set a cracking pace of 0.25 buoys on the 10.25m line. The defending World Champion, William Asher GBR, shocked all with a score of zero buoys on the 11.25m line. Skier seven of the twelve Finalists, Chris Rossi, was the next to get a 10.25m score with an excellent two buoys. Skier number nine was Thomas Degasperi, the European Record holder, and as he scored 3 buoys on the short 10.25m line, a video review was called. Did he score his end gates ? The review seemed to last forever but the confirmed score raised loud applause from all. Last off the dock was Jeff Rogers USA, the 2003 World Slalom champion. When Rogers cleared the 10.75m line, a second victory was within his grasp. Then his score of two buoys on the 10.25m line forced him in to a run off with Chris Rossi as both had identical scores in the Prelims. Experience won out and Rogers took the silver medal position ahead of Rossi who settled for bronze. However the day was Thomas Degasperi?s. We have a new and worthy Slalom World Champion.
Now it was Tricks time. Conditions were perfect. The Ladies scores were outstanding. Only one of the 12 Finalists scored less than 6000 points and three exceeded 8000 points. These three happened to be the last three off the dock. The young Natalia Berdnikova BLR stunned all with 8160 points. World Champion Mandy Nightingale USA came next with 8150, just ten points short of Berdnikova. Now it was all down to Clementine Lucine FRA. Her outstanding performance in the Prelims of 8510 raised expectations. None were disappointed. Her score of 8430 was enough to crown her the new World Champion, just ahead of Berdnikova and Nightingale.
The Mens World Trick Finals were equally impressive. Five scored over 11,000 points, an extraordinary performance. Two more scored over 10,000 points. In fact, a score of 10,080 only earned seventh place. The sixth athlete off the dock, Olivier Fortamps BEL, was first to set the pace with 11,030. Jaret Llewellyn CAN was nineth off the dock and raised the bar to 11,040. Oleg Deviatovski BLR pushed it up to 11,140. Aliaksei Zharnasek BLR raised the bar again to 11,470. Finally, it was the turn of the reigning World Champion, Nicolas LeForestier FRA. Could he do it one more time ? His performance was stunning. A score of 11,860 and a flawless display of talent gave him the title, ahead of Zharnasek and Deviatovski.