Following the live Sunrise TV show broadcast from competition site and the Wakeboard event, with the Nautique competition boat fully fuelled at the dock, the first of the six Women Trick skiers, Anais Amade FRA, started the Finals at 09.45hrs. Her score of 6840 points was just 160 short of a personal best performance. Taking on the impressive international field, fourteen year-old Erika Lang USA, then outperformed half of all the Finals entrants. With a score of 7750 points, enough to take the bronze Moomba medal, this was a signal that the next generation has already arrived. True to form, World Record holder Natalia Berdnikova BLR took the gold medal with 8870, just ahead of 23 year-old Alex Lauretano USA with 8180.
In the Men Trick Finals, many expected Aliaksei Zharnasek BLR to follow the example of Natalia Berdnikova also from Belarus to take the gold medal. However, the real star this year in all preliminary rounds was Jimmy Siemers USA. He was the only one to exceed 11,000 points in the Finals. His winning score of 11,510 was just 890 short of a World Record.
As Slalom arrived, the river current was a lot stronger. As in Tricks, it was the youngest in the Women?s Slalom Final who caught the attention of the spectators. As Peru?s first Moomba entrant, Delfina Cuglievan set the scene with a very impressive score on the fast flowing water of 3 Buoys on the 12m line. Only three Finalists could actually beat this. Vanessa Leopold AUS returned to the water following a break from the sport and added 1 Buoy to the Peruvian score. Then we had a duel for the remaining Podium places between Anais Amade FRA and Karin Truelove USA. They tied with a score of 1.5 Buoys on the 11.25m line. In the run-off, it was Truelove who triumphed. However, it was Delfina Cuglievan who made her Moomba debut and showed that new champions are on their way !
In the Men?s Slalom Finals, it was the seasoned specialists who reached the last stage. With eight entrants, it really boiled down to a battle of wits between the defending Moomba Champion, Aaron Larkin NZL, the reigning World Champion Will Asher GBR, and the past World Champion Thomas Degasperi ITA. It was Larkin who set the scene with an early score of 3 Buoys on the short 10.75m line. Degasperi got very close with 1.5 Buoys on the same shortening. That left Asher with a clear path to victory. However, that is not how it worked out today, much to the great surprise of many. He had to settle for second place. Aaron Larkin succeeded in retaining his Moomba title for a second year. Asher and Degasperi will have to wait till March 2012 for another attempt.
With young new arrivals leaving their mark in both the Tricks and Slalom events, nothing compares with what happened in Jump.
Just a few weeks ago, Australia?s 18 year-old Jacinta Carroll astounded the world with a distance of 54.7m on the low 1.5m Jump Ramp. This is unprecedented. It is also just 2.5m short of June Fladborg?s new 57.1 World Record on the higher 1.65m Ramp. As the first Jumper on the water today, Jacinta Carroll amazed all with her score of 53.1m. That piled the pressure on those who followed. In fact, they all failed. Even the talented Natalia Berdnikova BLR who got closest with 52.4m could not beat the 18 year-old Australian. The applause from the home crowd for the young Jacinta Carroll may have been heard over at Ayers Rock !
Believe it or not, this scenario was almost repeated again in the Men?s Jump Final. The eight contestants were probably assuming that World Record holder and World Champion Freddy Krueger USA would triumph yet again having already broken the Course Record earlier. However, Australia?s Tim Bradstreet aged 18 had different plans. The same age as Jacinta Carroll, Bradstreet got an enormous roar of approval when he landed a massive distance of 67.1m on the lower 1.65 Jump ramp. What followed was almost unprecedented. Krueger was forced to pass on two jumps and then could only manage a distance of 63.8m for fourth place. Scot Ellis USA could only score 65.3m. Only Ryan Dodd CAN was capable of out-jumping Tim Bradstreet with a distance of 68.8m to take the title. World Junior Champion, Tim Bradstreet?s silver medal performance will be remembered for some time to come.
We started by saying that it was the youngest athletes who really created all the major headlines in the 2011 Moomba Finals. With 14 year-old Erika Lang USA taking 3rd in Tricks, Delphina Cuglievan PER taking 4th in Slalom, 18 year old Jacinta Carroll AUS taking 1st in Jump and 18 year-old Tim Bradstreet AUS also taking 2nd in Jump, this was a real display of the level of emerging talent in our sport.
Darren Robinson, Tournament Director, and Pam Beazley, Chief Judge, ran one of the most enjoyable Moomba Masters for many years. The Victorian Water Ski Association set a very high standard for all our other major calendar events. Congratulations to those who made this such a success and to Nautique, City of Melbourne and AutoBarn for providing their essential help and support.