Today was a day of two halves here in Northern Italy at the Europe, Africa and Middle East Waterski Championships. The early morning mist at the base of the Alps was burning off as we arrived at Recetto for the Preliminary Rounds of Slalom and Tricks for the first half. The late afternoon was reserved for a truly spectacular island setting for the official Opening Ceremony. We will start with the morning events. (Updated)
With just 12 places in the Finals, 32 Ladies from 15 countries were listed to try to win a Slalom Finals place this morning. Many were bound to be disappointed. Early scores of 2 buoys on the 11.25m line from Olga Pavlova (BLR) and Elena Thomsen / Milakova (SUI) set a high standard in the opening 30 minutes. World Cup Jumper, June Fladborg (DEN), also got on board with 1 buoy on this shortening. By the time we reached the Series 1 athletes, these three had set the pace. Five of the last 10 athletes also scored on the 11.25m line with Anais Amade (FRA) on top with 5.5 buoys, just ahead of local star Marina Mosti (ITA) and the very popular World Slalom Champion, Nicole Arthur (GBR) with 3 buoys. This was a classy event with truly great performances. Check out the link on this page for all today?s results.
See Results by clicking here
The next chapter was all Men?s Tricks. With over 11,000 required in the recent World Championships in Austria to secure a lowly 5th place, expectations were high. The first impressive score came from Genadi Guralia with 8460 points. His Greece and Italy training paid off. An incredible performance emerged from twelve year old Nikos Plytas (GRE). His personal best score is 7340 points ! While his total of 4630 points was not a fair reflection of his talent, watch out for this name. He was injured on his second pass and retired early. The French teenager, Alexandre Poteau, pushed the best score up to 9140. France seems to have a whole new generation of rising stars. Then the Series 1 athletes entered the stage. Six scored over 9,000 points. One was spectacular and another two were stunning. The spectacular athlete was 18 year old Herman Beliakou (BLR). His personal best is 10,750 and he also jumps 53.3m. His score today was 10,210 and this was a guaranteed Finals place. The stunning athletes as expected were World Champion Nicolas LeForestier (FRA) and World Silver Medalist Aliaksei Zharnasek (BLR). LeForestier scored 10,390 and today Zharnasek did even better with 11,560 which equals his personal best score. This Sunday Finals should be very special.
Now the Italian Waterski Federation transported us all to Isola Bella-Stresa. This is actually an island in a lake at the base of the Alps some forty minutes north of Reccetto. The setting is almost beyond description. Just imagine towering mountains, magnificent Villas hanging on to cliffs surrounded by manicured gardens and what appears to be a Doges Palace on a tiny island with buildings from the Middle Ages casting their shadows down on the flat calm waters of Isola Bella-Stressa. Our EAME Championships Opening Ceremony was staged out on this island as the warm amber sun sank to the west. Following welcome addresses by the Mayor of Recetto, the Mayor of Stresa, and the Region?s Sports and Tourism Councillor, Juliana Manica, the EAME Team Awards were presented. With Team France taking the honours, the photo setting was the stuff of romantic novels. This was truly an evening to remember and a great honour for the athletes in our sport. President Silvio Falcioni and the Italian Waterski Federation were the perfect hosts.