The Waterski World Championships schedule here in Dubna, Russia, was created with a free day on Friday. This was a clever insurance policy to cover risks of bad weather interruptions, etc. As it turned out, it was not a totally free day as four extra hours were needed to complete the last three Series of Men?s Tricks Eliminations this morning. This produced several surprises and some stunning performances.
In 30C / 90Fh sunshine and perfectly flat water, the MasterCraft ProStar 190 pulled the first Tricker into the Dubna Watersports Stadium at exactly 09.00hrs. This was Esteban Siegert COL in Series 3 and his target was to beat the best score of Series 4 which was 6510 points set by Sandro Ambrosi MEX the previous evening. While Esteban fell early, Daniel Odvarko CZE, a Cory Pickos prot?g?, quickly raised the level to 7430 points. With eight skiers in this Series, Stephen Critchley GBR came out on top with a very impressive 8910 points. He looked like a solid contender for a top 12 Finals place.
In Series 2, Storm Selsor USA kicked off with an impressive 8960 points to take the lead. However, it eventually took a score of 9170 to squeeze into the top twelve and that last place was taken by Ryan Green AUS who must have been greatly relieved as his recent injury lay-off could have seen the end of a great career. It was also great to see Adam Pickos USA continue the success of his father Cory with a score of 9670 to get through. The most impressive of all in this Series was Canada?s Jason McClintock with a score of 10,010 points. This was certain to secure a Finals place but the others had to wait for Series 1 performances to see if the door was still open.
Virtually all the super stars of Tricking were in this last Series. With 12 Skiers listed and only 12 Finals places available, the earlier contenders needed to see some errors to make their day. First on the water was Jaret Llewellyn CAN. Again, in spite of his 15 World titles and 117 professional wins, after his recent injury downtime, nobody knew what to expect. His score of 9560 put him into 4th place at that stage but an ovation from the spectators reflected the enormous respect there is for him here in Dubna. Both Rodrigo and Felipe Miranda CHI were unlucky today as neither broke 9,000. Defending his World Overall Champion title, Javier Julio ARG got straight in with 9850, an extraordinary achievement at this stage of his career. The big surprise came with Herman Beliakou BLR. With a Personal Best score of 11,570 plus a silver medal in the 2009 Calgary World Championships, he looked like a sure bet for the Finals. Going down three tricks from home cost him dearly and 8960 was just not enough to make it through. The last two off the dock created a real buzz here at the Watersports Stadium. Nicolas LeForestier FRA is a legend by any standards. However, at 38 years of age, a series of injuries in recent years must have caused many to doubt a return to the form possible which gave him the World Record for the best part of a decade. True to character, he responded with the highest score to date of 10,970, another extraordinary achievement. Last out was the new World Record holder of 12,570 points, Aliaksei Zharnasek BLR. His performance today was breathtaking. The score of 11,570 does not fully reflect the quality of what he delivered. It was a flawless 40 seconds of perfection. Video cameras are a must for Saturday?s Tricks Finals.