WORLD WATERSKI CHAMPIONSHIPS – 2001
DAY 4. FRIDAY Sept 28th
If the Finals turn out to be as exciting as today’s Preliminaries, we are heading for a real blockbuster !
It all began at 8.03am, in a surprisingly cold misty haze which got burned off the Recetto lakes by 10.00am to give us really hot sunshine for the whole day. The bad weather predictions keep saying that rain will arrive tomorrow – but tomorrow just has not arrived yet. This was today’s programme – Mens Slalom series 4,3,2 and 1, followed by Ladies Jump series 3,2 and 1. That involved 54 Slalom Skiers and 28 Jumpers all chasing the eight respective Finals places plus the Specialists slots.
To set the scene for the Mens Slalom event, let’s cast our minds back to the 1999 World Championships at Idroscala in Milan and recall that Andy Mapple set a new World Championships record there of 5 buoys on the white 10.75m / 39.5 off line. Today, the best score achieved in series 4 Slalom was 4 buoys on the 11.25m / 38 off line by Sweden’s Jurgen Jansson. Canada’s Jaret Llewellyn was the only one in the next series 3 to beat this with a score of 5 buoys on the 11.25m line. Now 25 Skiers had completed their runs. At this stage it was impossible to guess what the Finals cut off point might be. In series 2, the top performers were Italy’s Christian Rampanelli with 2 buoys on the 10.75m / 39.5 off line and Belarus’s Oleg Deviatovski’s score of 3 buoys on the same line. As we went into series 1, it was still wide open. This is where the real battle started in glorious sunshine. The third Skier off the dock, Italy’s Fabrizio Ciaponi, got the first 10.25m / 41 off score of 2 buoys. The very next skier, Britain’s Jodi Fisher got 1 buoy on the same line. Chris Parrish, the young USA Slalom specialist, pushed his score up to 3 at 10.25m. and now we really thought that a World Record might be on the way. This was followed by an amazing set of 10.25m / 41 off performances. Andy Mapple and Glen Campbell from the UK got 1 buoy, Ben Favret (USA) got 1.5 bouys and Drew Ross (Canada) and Steve Cockeram (NZ) got 2 bouys each. This meant that the old World Championships record of 5 buoys on the 10.75m / 39.5 off line was beaten a total of EIGHT times here today !
That was not the end of the Men’s series ‘coz we now had a tie for the last Finals place – all stuck at 2 buoys on the 10.75m / 39.5 off line – Christian Rampanelli, Philippe Davel, Jason Seels and Clint Stadlbaur. In a thrilling finish, the run-off score of 3 buoys at 10.75m gave the last place to Christian Rampanelli (Italy). What a Slalom event !
Now we switched over to Lake One, the Jump Lake, for the Ladies Preliminary round. This time the sun was sinking slowly over the snow covered Alps to the west and conditions were perfect. Twenty eight Athletes were chasing eight Final’s places. Two Personal best scores were achieved in series 3 by Natalia Berdnikova (Belarus) 39.4m / 129 ft, and Clementine Lucine (France) 46.9m / 154 ft. In series 2, Brandi Hunt (USA) followed with another PB of 48.0m / 157 ft. Both USA Athletes, Regina Jaquess and Rhoni Barton also tied at 47.5m / 156 ft. before we moved on the series 1. First off the dock, Toni Neville (Australia) then took the lead with 48.8m / 160 ft. This lead was quickly lost to the current World Record holder, Elena Milakova (Russia) with a big 50m / 164 ft score. The level of Ladies Jump was a real eye opener all the way through to the end with Marina Mosti getting 48.5m / 159ft, Emma Sheers 49.1m / 161ft, Angeliki Andriopoulou 48.4m / 159ft and Britta Llewellyn with 47.6m / 156ft. Britta’s distance caused consternation as she had then pushed the tied USA Athletes, Regina Jacquess and Rhoni Barton into a run-off for the last place. This was a real heart breaker as one USA Team member would have to push the other out. As a test of real sportsmanship, USA Team Manager Frank Harrison set a glowing example. He cheered them both over the Ramp and was genuinely thrilled that one of the two great Athletes made it through. The fortunate Athlete was Regina Jaquess. ‘Another outstanding event.
As darkness fell and we dragged ourselves to the waiting Coaches, we managed to get a quick update on the Team scores including Slalom and Tricks – but excluding Jump. Here are the positions as we head for our Hotels – 1.USA, 2.France, 3.Belarus, 4.Great Britain, 5. Australia, 6.Canada, 7. Argentina, 8. Russia, 9.Mexico and 10. Greece. Time now to listen to the next weather forecast which will predict rain for tomorrow and prepare for the later 9.00am start tomorrow !