USA TAKES THREE TITLES IN RUSSIA AT WATERSKI WORLD CUP IN DUBNA
Following last month’s Wakeboard Stop in Enghien les Bains in France, this was the first 2005 Waterski Stop of the World Cup series. In bringing the sport to large population centres, new audiences are being won over by each Stop of the tour. The host City of Dubna, just one hour from Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport, constructed an additional 2,500 seats following a capacity crowd at last year’s event. Over 25,000 spectators attended at the weekend in warm and sometimes breezy conditions. The City has developed rapidly in the past year and will shortly construct a new IT Technopark which will eventually employ 30,000 people. The event was sponsored by the City of Dubna, MasterCraft the official Boat supplier, Akrilan and the International Waterski Federation.
The World’s highest ranked athletes who qualified in Slalom, Tricks, and Jump fought hard for a share of the $500,000 season’s total cash prize purse. The entire Preliminary and Final rounds were broadcast live throughout Russia by NTV. The International Waterski Federation also issued a News Edit by Satellite to its global TV Station network.
In the Saturday Preliminary rounds, Clementine Lucine (FRA) caught the headlines. She scored the highest points in all three disciplines – a feat never before achieved in the World Cup series. She is the current Overall World Record holder. On the other hand, those unlucky not to make it through to the Men’s Slalom Finals included some big names in the sport – Russia’s Igor Morozov, New Zealander Steve Cockeram and USA athletes Terry Winter, Chris Rossi and Greg Sund. Eight Women and twelve Men did progress to the Finals.
The perfect sunny conditions of Saturday turned to windy sunny conditions on the Volga River for Sunday’s Finals. Slalom came first. Last year’s winner, Natalie Hamrick (USA) was second last to enter the arena. Lori Krueger (USA) was in the lead with a score of 2 buoys on the 11.25m line. Hamrick pushed this up to 3.5 buoys on the same rope length. This left the door open for the dominant Clementine Lucine (FRA) following her exceptional Preliminary Round performances. Would Hamrick make it two Dubna titles in a row ? The pressure was too much. Lucine fell just 1.5 buoys short to tie for second place with Krueger. Hamrick did enough to take the Slalom title for the second consecutive year. The Men’s Slalom Final also produced a rare outcome. Four athletes tied for second place – Thomas Degasperi (ITA), Jodi Fisher (GBR), Fabio Ianni (ITA) and Drew Ross (CAN). The 24 year old Degasperi, a past European Dauphin Champion, made a strong impression in this his first World Cup performance. Jamie Beauchesne (USA), already with a World Record to his credit, did not disappoint with a dominant winning score of 1.5 buoys on the 10.25m line.
Women’s Tricks came next. As predicted, it was always going to be a battle between the European Champion Clementine Lucine (FRA) and the World Champion, Mandy Nightingale (USA). However, Colombia’s Maria Camilla Linares almost toppled the stars with a great third place score of 7150 points. Nightingale was second last into the packed arena. Her impeccable performance included four Flips and gained her a score of 8190 points – plus a new Course Record. Again, Lucine was under enormous pressure but her score of 7320 points was just enough on this occasion to give her a well deserved second place. It was Nightingales day. The Mens Tricks event had a new twist. World Record holder, Nicolas LeForestier (FRA) was outscored in the Preliminary Round by the past European U21 Tricks Champion Aliaksei Zharnasek (BLR). Could the 25 year old Belarus athlete raise his performance again for the Finals ? His eventual score of 11470 gave him a new Personal Best performance just when he needed it. However, true to form, the four time World Tricks Champion LeForestier not only took the Dubna World Cup Tricks title with a score of 11,960, but also set a new Course Record for the famous Volga River Waterski site.
Jump came last. The 25,000 spectators were ready for action. Now the gusty strong head wind was enough to play havoc with the nerves of even the bravest athletes ! Brenda Baldwin (USA) and mother of two young children, had the crash of the weekend – totally inverted as she opted to let the handle go at the base of the Jump Ramp. Shaken but not stirred, she earned great respect and rapturous applause from the packed Dubna arena for a gutsy recovery and score of 39.6m. Maria Vibranietsova (GRE) greatly impressed all with a distance of 46.9m and earned enough for third place. Britain’s Jump Champion Jaki Hunter from Scotland pushed this up further to 47.8m to secure second place. The Copenhagen born and European Jump Champion June Fladborg (DEN), with her revolutionary Stokes Skis, successfully used the strong head wind. She took first place with a distance of 48.2m – a great performance in challenging nerve testing conditions.
Now the wind was really blowing – almost too strong for even the most talented Men Jumpers. Ryan Fitts (USA), always exciting to watch, added to the crash list but recovered quickly. Sebastien Di Pasqua (SUI), Scott Ellis (USA) and Kyle Eade (NZL) were among those who found conditions too tough for a high score. Following an uncharacteristic poor Preliminary Round performance, Jaret Llewellyn (CAN) showed why he has an extraordinary eleven World Records to his credit. His distance of 66.3m set yet another new Course Record plus a standing ovation from the very enthusiastic cheering Russian audience. However, the reining World Jump Champion Freddy Krueger (USA) was yet to appear. He has two pending World Jump Records to his credit. In a series of recent events, he has consistently beaten Llewellyn on his last Jump. In spite of a brave effort, Krueger did his best but his 65.0m distance in Dubna was only good enough for second place on this occasion. It was Llewellyn’s day.
Following the spectacular Prize Ceremony and many magnums of celebration Champagne, Jaret Llewellyn (CAN) stated “ That head wind gave me the highest altitude I’ve ever achieved off a Jump Ramp anywhere in the World and landing was a really scary experience “
At the Closing Ceremony, Dubna Mayor Valery Prokh spoke for all when he declared that this Stop of the 2005 Waterski & Wakeboard World Cup was one of the most exciting his City had ever seen. Akrilan Board Chairman Igor Gorelov and MasterCraft Europe Chief Executive Ian Birdsall agreed !
SLALOM WINNERS – Women
1. Natalie Hamrick (USA) – 3.5 @ 11.25m
2. Lori Krueger (USA) – 2.0 @ 11.25m
2. Clementine Lucine (FRA) – 2 @ 11.25m
SLALOM WINNERS – Men
1. Jamie Beauchesne (USA) – 1.5 @ 10.25m
2. Thomas Degasperi (ITA) – 3 @ 10.75m
2. Jodi Fisher (GBR) – 3 @ 10.75m
2. Fabio Ianni (ITA) – 3 @ 10.75m
2. Drew Ross (CAN) – 3 @ 10.75m
TRICK WINNERS – Women
1. Mandy Nightingale (USA) – 8190
2. Clementine Lucine (FRA)) – 7320
3. Maria Camila Linares (COL) – 7150
TRICK WINNERS – Men
1. Nicolas LeForestier (FRA) – 11960
2. Aliaksei Zharnosek (BLR) – 11470
3. Russell Gay (USA) – 10610
JUMP WINNERS – Women
1. June Fladborg (DEN) – 48.2m
2. Jaki Hunter (GBR) – 47.8m
3. Maria Vibranietsova (GRE) – 46.9m
JUMP WINNERS – Men
1. Jaret Llewellyn (CAN) – 66.3m
2. Freddy Krueger (USA)) – 65.0m
3. Jimmy Siemers (USA) – 63.8m
CONTACT : Des Burke-Kennedy, Media Chairman, International Waterski Federation
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