Every World Championships has a tough day along the way ? and it was here in Dubna today. In beautiful weather and excellent water conditions, Chief Judge Nikki Lee USA and the team were faced with managing and scoring a total of 90 performances ? 28 in Slalom and 62 in Tricks. These included Series 5 and 4 in Men Tricks, Series 6, 5 and 4 in Men Slalom and Series 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1 in Ladies Tricks. Meanwhile, back on the ranch, the Executive Board Meeting continued all day at the nearby Resident Hotel. Chaired by Jim Grew USA this continued till after 18.00hrs from early morning.
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Top of the pile at the end of today in Men Slalom was New Zealander Lance Green with a personal best performance of 1.5 buoys on the 10.75m line. With 32 Slalom skiers still to come, Lance will have to keep the fingers crossed till late tomorrow. With only 12 Final?s places, this last stage will be fascinating.
With Ladies Tricks deservedly catching all the headlines in recent months with the extraordinary World Record performances of both Clementine Lucine FRA and Natalia Berdnikova BLR, today was guaranteed to be special. With so much at stake and Finals places at risk, it was also guaranteed to have some surprises and it certainly did. With Series 4,3,2 and 1 in action, this was decision time.
There were a few enormous surprises. Hot contender for the Overall medal, Regina Jaquess USA, ran into trouble on her second Trick pass losing the valuable scores of her last three flips and will not be in the Finals. US Masters champion Whitney McClintock CAN went down on her third trick on her second pass and with a score of 4330 points will also not make it to the Finals. The talented young Erika Lang USA, who took third place at the Moomba Masters last March with a strong score of 7750 points, broke her heel binding today and had to settle for 5800 and will not advance. Likewise, Anais Amade FRA will not be in the Finals as she was just over 200 points short of the cut.
On the happy side of the scores, Iris Cambray FRA, who is currently ranked number 4 in the world, wowed the spectators with the best score of the day of 9240 points which is only 100 short of a personal best score for her. As expected, joint World Record holder Natalia Berdnikova BLR was not far off with 8540 and secured a strong Finals place. Of course all eyes were on Clementine Lucine FRA who recently tricked 9780 points for a pending World Record. While her score of 7560 points might suggest disappointment, in fact she looked very composed and did all she needed to get a Finals place. Watch out for a fantastic battle between these three at the weekend.
It was also very encouraging to see eight year old Aaliyah Yoong Hanifah MAS in her first World Championships experience clock up a steady Trick score of 2420 points. China?s athletes continue to improve rapidly with Yu Fei Song scoring an impressive 4730 points. We will certainly see a lot more of China and Malaysia in the medals in the years ahead.