The stage is set. The Slalom Stars are ready. This is the final count down to the Waterski World Cup Stop at Thorpe Lakes in London next weekend on Saturday, September 4th. It is the halfway point for the 2004 Waterski World Cup with Stops yet to come in the China, USA and Qatar. The superb spectacle of last month’s Stop in Russia is fresh in the minds of competitors. The challenge now continues for a slice of the US$ 650,000 season’s cash prize.
Waterski World Cup Slalom athletes from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, France, Italy and Great Britain, will have an enormous challenge at London’s Thorpe Lakes. However, no challenge will be bigger than that which faces Britain’s king of Slalom Skiing, Andy Mapple OBE. With 10 World Slalom Records already to his credit, yesterday he increased his number of professional Waterski victories even further to a staggering 164. This he achieved at the annual Pro-Am competition at Princes Waterski Club in London. Pitched against him were the very best in the World, including Chris Parrish (USA),Wade Cox (USA), Drew Ross (CAN) and Steve Cockeram (NZL). He beat fellow British Slalom Skier and silver medalist in the 2003 World Championships, Will Asher, in a thrilling head-to-head finish. The Princes Pro-Am proved that the king is still the man to beat. What a prospect for his final September 4th appearance before retirement after 18 years at the top of such a grueling and punishing physical sport.
Andy Mapple did not compete in last month’s Waterski World Cup Stop in Russia. Neither did the US National Slalom Champion, Chris Parrish. Both are now heading for Thorpe Lakes. In the lead at this point of the Slalom event in the Waterski World Cup is Glen Campbell (GBR). He has earned the right to wear the World Cup Yellow Bib for the first time. In addition to this, the World’s best Slalom skiers from eight countries will join the queue to try just one last time to dethrone the World’s Slalom legend, Andy Mapple. Considering that scores at the Pro-Am at Princes Waterski Club yesterday were only 3 Buoys short of the World Record, this is shaping up to be one of the all time classic events. Andy Maple OBE is a co-holder of that World Record of 1 Buoy on the 9.75m Slalom line. That just happens to be 1.75m shorter than the distance from the MasterCraft tow boat’s centre line to each Slalom Buoy! This is a sport for giants in every sense of the word.
Women’s defending champion, Natalie Hamrick (USA), will be easy to spot as she will also be wearing the distinctive official Waterski World Cup Yellow Bib for the first time. When 34,000 spectators in Russia cheered her great winning score of 5.5 Buoys on the short 11.25m Slalom line to beat the World Champion, Emma Sheers (AUS), we knew that the next Stop would be a nail biter! However, it may not be just a battle between the USA and Australia. Hot on their heels will be Karen Truelove and Rhoni Barton (USA), Geraldine Jamin (FRA), Sarah Gatty Saunt (GBR), plus eight other hot contenders.
At this stage, spectators from many countries have already booked their flights to witness this next chapter of Waterski history scheduled for Saturday. The Thorpe Lakes venue is a short hop from Heathrow Airport. Enthusiasts from all over Britain will also be there to share this special occasion. The action will begin at 10.00am sharp with the commencement of the Preliminary Rounds. The Finals are scheduled to start at 2.00pm. While there may not be a dry eye in the house at the spectacle of one of the World’s greatest athletes making his final European appearance, home athlete Andy Mapple OBE may even do the impossible by taking that top spot on the podium just once more – for the 165th time! After the roller coaster ride of the Olympic Games of the past weeks, don’t expect anything less at this next leg of the Waterski World Cup at Thorpe Lakes.
Sunsail, the World’s leading watersports and beach club provider will use the occasion to launch their 2005 brochure and some on-water activities. They will join MasterCraft, the official two boat sponsor, in what will certainly be a historical Waterski World Cup spectacular.
Check your local TV listings if you cannot join us at this Waterski World Cup. The Stop in Russia will be screened during the coming two weeks and this London Stop will be released by the end of the September. SKY Sports, ESPN, STAR, Mnet, CSN and others will broadcast the edited highlights around the World.
WATERSKI ACTION GUIDE :
IWSF Junior World Waterski Championships
September 2/5 2004 – sponsored by Central Florida Sports Commission
Sunset Lakes Ski Club, Groveland, Florida, USA
FISU 2004 World University Championships
Balakovo, Russia – September 3/5 2004
IWSF World Wakeboard Championships
Seville, Spain – October 13/17 2004
Official Towboat Sponsor for 2004 World Cup
The world’s leading watersports and beach club provider