WORLD WATERSKI CHAMPIONSHIPS – 2001
DAY 6. SUNDAY Sept 30th - PART ONE
It was sunshine, sunshine, sunshine all the way today !
The last day of the Worlds is always a bit special – with great expectations and also a sense that, sadly, it is almost over for another two years. The programme was hectic – with FOUR Finals – Men’s Slalom, Ladies Slalom, Mens Jump, plus the Overall Final.
We kicked off with the Mens Slalom Finals with near perfect water conditions and a rising sun to the east shining over our north / south Slalom & Trick lake here in Recetto. With 11 Athletes including three specialists, we started at 9.00am on the dot. Italy’s Christian Rampanelli set the opening pace high with a score of 1.5 buoys on the 10.75m / 39.5 off line. The next Athlete, Oleg Deviatovski (Belarus) equalled this. That remained the best till the fourth Athlete, Andy Mapple, the five time World Slalom Champion, hit the water. His score – 3 on the 10.25m / 41 off line. Awesome stuff ! When Canada’s Drew Ross cleared the 10.75m line, it looked like Andy might not hold the lead – but Drew got caught at buoy number 2 on the 10.25m line. Andy was still in front by just one buoy. Last off the dock was Chris Parris (USA) and he too cleared the 10.75m line. The large crowd were on their feet – could he topple the World Record holder and become World Champion ? After a superb effort, Chris Parrish had to settle for 2 also on the 10.25m / 41 off line. Great performance. First Andy, second Chris and third Drew.
Now it was the Ladies turn on the Slalom course. Twelve Athletes including four specialists and almost all performed better than in the Preliminaries. Nobody got beyond 4.5 buoys on the 11.25m / 38 off line until we reached Athlete number eight and that was the great World Record holder, Kristi Overton Johnson. Kristi clocked up an unbeatable 2 buoys on the 10.75m / 39.5 off line – or was it unbeatable ? Next out was the USA specialist Jill Knutson and she clocked up 5 buoys on the 11.25m / 38 off line – just not enough. Last off the dock was Australia’s four time World Jump Record breaker, Emma Sheers. Could Emma topple Kristi ? She had a tough 12m / 35 off pass and also a very tough 11.25m / 38 off pass – but pure determination and courage got her within knocking distance of Kristi. The crowed roared – Emma got a great 10.75. gate and a terrific buoy one. She got to two and the crowed roared yet again – and then she pushed the pint home with a final score of 3.25 buoys on the 10.75m / 39.5 ft off line. What a finish – Emma is the new World Slalom Champion, Kristi got Silver and Jill Bronze.
Quickly we switched to Jump Lake number one. It only took fifteen minutes and we were off again – in glorious sunshine. Now it was the Mens Jump Finals. Huge crowds, huge expectations and a lot at stake for12 Athletes. The first Athlete to exceed 60m / was Denmark’s Jesper Cassoe – with a big 63m / 207 ft. This was pushed up further by Bruce Neville (Australia) to 63.5m / 208ft. Then we had to wait for Scott Ellis (USA) and he nudged it up to 64.4m / 211ft. Now we had a battle like none we have seen for some time. Jason Seels (GB) got close with 63.3m / 208ft – but Freddie Krueger (USA) and Jaret Llewelly (Canada) still on the sun drenched dock. Freddie stunned the audience with his first jump adn best distance of a huge 64.6m / 212ft. Now how often hae we seen Jaret on the dock as the last Athlete to go ? Could he do it. His Dad, Don, could harly bear to look. The crowd rose to their feet. He hit that ramp like only Jaret can – and landed almost in the next Province ! The distance – 65.7m / 216ft. I asked him why he could not have given us a few warmer uppers first and he replied that he wanted to get it over as quickly as possible. Now that’s confidence. Fantactic Jump Final – Gold Jaret, Silver Freddie and Bronze Scott.
Now it’s the Overalls and the Team results. This comes in PART 2