19Sep07 Europe Africa Middle East Waterski Championships, Day 1 report

The battle continues between Trick Stars Nicolas LeForestier (FRA) and Aliaksei Zharnasek (BLR) at the EAME Championships

Today was the first competition day at Recetto , north of Milan, with the magnificent backdrop of the snow capped Alps in the background. Today was also exclusively the Team Championships Day. Having earned six Gold Medals at the World Championships in Austria earlier this month, expectations of the EAME athletes were high for a very competitive event. A warm and light side-on breeze and temperature of 24C / 78Fh created a perfect setting. The countries fighting for the Team title included Germany, Belgium, Russia, Greece, Great Britain, Belarus, Italy and France. The seeding by Country was the reverse order of the 2006 results and Slalom came first. Some of the athletes competing later this week chose to pass on the Team event to conserve energy.

The 32 Team Slalom skiers soon settled in for a very tight contest. Eleven secured scores on the 11.25m line and three made it to the 10.75m line. The two best Women?s scores went to World Slalom Champion Nicole Arthur (GBR) and Anais Amade (FRA) both with 4 buoys on the 11.25m line. The top two Men were Oleg Deviatovski (BLR) and Marco Riva (ITA) with 2.25 buoys and 4.5 buoys on the 10.75m line. At this Point, Italy lead with 2258 points, just 61 points ahead of France and 70 ahead of Great Britain.

Next came Tricks and some outstanding performances. Again 32 athletes set about getting on to the Team podium. World Record holder and World Champion, Nicolas LeForestier (FRA), was untouchable with 11,630 points. Next came Aliaksei Zharnasek (BLR) with 11,470 points. Fellow Belarus athlete, Oleg Deviatovski , scored 10,420 and Olivier Fortamps 10,040. Ageliki Andriopoulou (GRE) was the best of the Women with 7840. Adding the points at this stage for Slalom and Tricks, Belarus had now taken the lead by just 137 points ahead of France and Italy. All moved a few meters to the beautiful Jump lake here at Recetto for the final phase.

Mixing the Women and Men at three Ramp heights leads to some very interesting scoring in Jump. Young Bojan Schipner (GER) was second on the water and set a high standard of 61.8m. Seven more followed with distances over 60.0m. At the closing stages, the Team lead position changed with almost every jump. Eventually, it was down to Belarus versus France, the defending Team champions. The combined French strengths of Nancy Chardin, Anais Amade and Clementine Lucine were just too much for the great talents of Belarus. France once again took the Team title by 114 points from Belarus and 386 ahead of third place Italy.

Tomorrow we start at 08.00hrs with the EAME Championships Qualification Rounds of Slalom and Tricks. The weather forecast is for more sunshine, a light breeze and 24C / 78Fh.