This was the last Stop of a hectic global tour for the World’s best Waterskiers and Wakeboard Riders. Following the start of the ambitious adventure which began in France six months ago, the battle for World Cup titles continued through Russia, Great Britain, China, Singapore and now Doha on the Arabian Gulf in Qatar.
Special challenges faced the International Waterski Federation on this occasion. The Jump Ramp was transported from the USA. MasterCraft, the official towboat sponsors, shipped three competition boats from the U.K. Officials from Great Britain, Germany and Italy took responsibility for setting up the competition courses – and the Qatar Marine Sport Federation took charge of the detailed local organization. Athletes from eleven countries filled the starting lists.
In conjunction with this major logistical challenge, Qatar’s Academy of Sports Excellence, known as ASPIRE, provided Waterski lessons for 180 Qatari children with the assistance of the multiple World Waterski Champion, Patrice Martin (FRA).
In glorious sunshine along the seven kilometer paved Corniche, the Preliminary rounds of the Waterski and Wakeboard Finals reduced the total field of athletes to eight in each discipline. The big surprise in Slalom was Britain’s Glen Campbell narrowly missing the qualifying mark. In Tricks, New Zealander Kyle Eade was unlucky to fall short of the cut-off point. Time constraints gave all nine Jumpers a pass to the Finals. In Wakeboard, the very best in the World made it through. These included the newly crowned World Champion, 15 year old Phillip Soven (USA) and current World Cup leader, Daniel Watkins (AUS). This was Watkins’ 31st competition of the year !
With a gentle cooling breeze blowing through the tall palm trees, the Slalom Skiers were the first finalists to compete against a spectacular backdrop of exotic high rise buildings. The favorite, Chris Parrish (USA), fought hard to gain 5th place. However, he still hoped that he would have enough points accumulated to take the World Cup title. The anticipation of final calculations was almost unbearable for him. Close on his heels throughout the year was Britain’s Jody Fisher. Today was Fisher’s day and his score of 5 buoys on the short 10.75m rope was enough to give him first place for this Doha World Cup Stop.
In Tricks, it was a case of the World Champion, Jimmy Siemers (USA), battling against the World Cup accumulated points leader Russell Gay (USA) and the World Record holder, Nicolas LeForestier (FRA). After a performance glitch in choppy waters in China, the French man had a point to prove here in Qatar. Three athletes clocked up scores exceeding 10,000 points but LeForestier’s score of 10,820 was unbeatable – and this also gave him the Doha World Cup Stop title.
In Jump, there were many surprises. Few Jumpers had ever performed on sea water before and the Arabian Gulf offered some special challenges. Austria’s Thomas Fenzl and New Zealand’s Kyle Eade took second and third place against very tough competition. Just two weeks ago, Canada’s Jaret Llewellyn set a new pending World Jump Record and he was now determined to finish his year on a high note. True to form, his 57.5m / 189ft distance was enough to take the Doha Jump title back to Canada.
In Wakeboard, a similar pattern emerged. The recently crowned 15 year old World Wakeboard Champion, Phillip Soven (USA) , rose to the top once again with a magnificent performance as the sun set below the palm trees in the nearby desert just beyond the exotic coastal skyline. His 61.23 points score, based on his exceptional intensity factor, made him unbeatable. Very close behind in second and third place were Brett Eisenhower (AUS) and Morgan Krause (RSA). On this occasion, the World Cup leader, Daniel Watkins (AUS), had to settle for 4th place.
The President of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF), Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor-al-Thani, assisted by QMSF General Secretary Sami Abu Shaikha, and Kuno Ritschard, President of the International Waterski Federation, presented the winners prizes on the Doha Corniche as the sun set over the blue waters of the Arabian Gulf.
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