WORLD WATERSKI CHAMPIONSHIPS – 2001
DAY 3. THURSDAY Sept 27th
What a day ! Sunshine from the 8.00am start to the 7.00pm finish, flat calm water and some of the most exciting Skiing we have seen all year. The programme was all preliminary Slalom and Tricks.
We kicked off in the early morning haze with Women’s Slalom series 5,4 and 3 – knowing that there were only 12 places in the Finals and here we had 40 Athletes with high hopes. First off the dock was Swiss Athlete Valerie Jacquier and she clocked up a very respectable 6 buoys on the 13m / 32 off line – and 4 buoys off a personal best score. From there it just got better and better. Here is the summary. Of the 40 Athletes, 17 got on to the 11.25m / 38 off line and only 7 did not run the 13m line. The lowest score was 2 at 13m / 32 off. All World Championship hopefuls please take note !
The popular Greek Slalom Skier, Angeliki Andriopoulou, got a half buoy on the 11.25m line in Series 2 – the best she had ever achieved. With 19 Skiers remaining, this acted like a signal to others to increase the pressure. What followed was the ultimate in nail biting stuff. An amazing total of 6 Athletes tied at 1 buoy on the 11.25m / 38 off line. Before this rule tester could be resolved, the best rose to the top. With just five Skiers to go, Italy’s Marina Mosti brought the home crowd to their feet with the best score of the day of 3.5 buoys on the same 11.25m line. USA specialist Jill Knutson, almost took this lead away but had to settle for 3 on 11.25m / 38 off. Australia’s Emma Sheers was feeling quite ill the night before – but being the top Athlete she is, she called on all that hard earned experience and achieved a tie with Marina Mosti for the lead. This meant that Emma, Marina and Jill Knutson (USA) had secured their Finals places – and so had Natalie Hamrick, Kristi Overton Johnson (USA), Rhoni Barton (USA) and Natalia Anisimova (Russia). Now it was back to the rule book because we had the top seven places decided – but the next 6 Athletes were still all tied at 1 buoy on the 11.25m line – and we only had 5 places left for the Finals. So, it’s run-off time !
Now the tension was about as high as in the coming Sunday’s Finals. This time around they all got on to the 11.25m line again, with Finals places secured for Mariana Ramirez (Mexico), Clementine Lucine (France) and Cristina Muggiasca (Swiss). Two Finals places remained – and just to keep the excitement going, Toni Neville (Australia) and Karen Truelove (USA) tied at 3 buoys on the 11.25m / 38 off line. Another run-off. This was a tough one because since Karen Truelove is a Slalom specialist, she had to beat Toni Neville to secure her place – or she would be out and the Skier on the bubble, Olga Pavlova (Belarus) would be in. Karen got a hard earned 1 buoy on the 12m line – and Tony missed her gates on the same line ! Both got in and Olga had to watch in vain. What a great event. This Final is going to be a real show stopper.
Now we finish up the day with Men’s and Ladies Tricks. This was always going to be tough – with 49 Men and 39 Ladies chasing the 8 Finals places. In the Men’s event, 13 Athletes scored over 8000 points, and 5 got better than 10,000. Again, the Italian audience loudly cheered Marco Riva with his score of 9470 points – just enough to make it through. The top three specialist superstars were as expected – World Record breaker Nicolas LeForestier ( France) 11070, Cory Pickos (USA) 10960 and Russel Gay (USA) 10710. Those Overall watchers were delighted also to see success going to Oleg Deviatovski (Belarus) 10,290, Aleksei Zarnasek (Belarus) 10140, Julio Javier (Argentina) 9930, Jaret Llewellyn (Canada) 9800 and the young star Joel Wing (Australia) 9600. Expect to see some more 11000 scores and higher in the Finals.
The Ladies Tricks took us all the way to dusk on a warm sunny evening. Here the talented Overall World Record holder, Elena Milakova (Russia) took the top spot with 7380 points. She was followed by Frederique Savin (France) 6800, Overall contenders Angeliki Andriopolou (Greece) 6740, Rhoni Barton (USA) 6630, Marina Mosti (Italy) 6480 and Regina Jaquess (USA) 6460. A total of 13 Ladies got better than 6000 and many will improve further in the Finals when scoring safety will not be a constraint.
The bi-annual IWSF Congress was also in full flight in Biella today – a small town 50 Klm away. Word has just reached us that our new President and Secretary General have been elected and our congratulations go to Kuno Ritschard (Switzerland) and Jeffry Armstrong (USA). They will join us on site here in Recetto tomorrow, Friday, for Men’s Slalom and Ladies Jump. The conditions at this beautiful site could well produce some history making performances – if the predicted rain stays away. Fingers crossed time.