MAJOR VICTORIES FOR CANADA, FRANCE, USA AND GREECE AT THRILLING WATERSKI WORLD CUP STOP IN DUBNA, RUSSIA
Every now and then, factors combine to create a perfect sporting event. The Waterski World Cup Stop of the International Water Ski Federation (IWSF) in Dubna, Russia, was one such occasion this weekend. It was the 18th World Cup Stop in the series.
Weather has been a defining factor for many sports recently. The Preliminary Rounds of Jump and Shortboard contests in Dubna took place in dismal, wet and windy conditions. However, the Finals were greeted by perfect water, sunny skies and an ideal westerly head wind for the Jumpers. This set a perfect stage for the 36 top ranked athletes from 13 countries who qualified for entry. It also added a lot to the enjoyment of the 30,000 cheering fans on site. With the red and white MasterCraft boat fuelled and ready to go at the starting dock, the story began.
In Women’s Shortboard, the four Finalists included the World Record Holder, Mandy Nightingale (USA). She won the China and Northern Ireland World Cup titles last year. Her score in Dubna of 7,700 points was both a Course Record here and enough to take the 2007 title in style. With just four Finals places, the surprise performances came from World Cup newcomers, 18 year old Marion Aynaud (FRA), and Tatiana Churakova (RUS). Aynaud took the bronze medal position with a score of 6500 points, just behind Danyelle Bennett (USA).
In Men’s Shortboard, the five time World Record breaker, Nicolas LeForestier (FRA), had a very tough battle on his hands in staying ahead of local favourite Oleg Deviatovski (BLR). It was a close call in the end. Just 130 points made the difference. LeForestier took the title with a superb score of 11,100 points. Four of the other five Finalists scored over 10,000 points, making this one of the highest quality Shortboard events of the year so far.
At this stage, the prevailing light head breeze had created a perfect setting for some great Jump performances. The cheering appreciative Russian audience added to the level of anticipation. With four Women Finalists, neither Marie Vympranietsova (GRE) or June Fladborg (DEN) could break the 50m distance. Again, the youngest athlete, Nancy Chardin (FRA), caused a sensation with a new Personal Best performance of 50.1m to take second place. She is certainly one to watch closely for the future. Last off the dock was the reigning World Champion, Ageliki Andriopoulou (GRE). She passed on her first attempt and it looked like Chardin might have done the impossible. However, a very late cut to the Dubna Jump Ramp on her second attempt produced a winning score of 51.3m. for the Athens, Greece, based Andriopoulou.
It was standing room only at this stage. Beneath the flags of 13 Nations, six of the World’s top ranked Men Jumpers signed the outstretched autograph hunter’s books and assembled at the starting dock. First out was Scott Ellis (USA). When his score of 65m was announced, all knew that this was going to be an exceptional Jump Finals. Mark Lane (USA) then pushed it up to 66.5m. Jason Seels (GBR) followed with 65.1. Then the young Canadian star Ryan Dodd increased the lead to 66.6m, leaving the two current greatest Jumpers in the World to fight it out in glorious sunshine and a perfect head wind. Both had already set new Dubna course records in the Preliminaries. Jaret Llewellyn (CAN) came first. Jump one was 63.7m plus a broken ski fin. Jump two was 65.1 plus another broken fin. He was dangerously close to the limit. Jump three was 70.9m, a standing ovation from the cheering crowd, plus another new Dubna course record. Llewellyn has not beaten Freddy Krueger (USA) for over 18 months. Now it was Krueger’s turn. He kicked off with a huge distance of 66.8m. for openers. In setting up for Jump two, his concentration was upset over 600m away from the Ramp. The result was a distance of 62.1m. It was now all or nothing on Jump three. An enormous 68.8m score was not enough however. It was Llewellyn’s turn to head for the champagne and the 2007 Dubna World Cup Stop Jump title.
A final thoughtful gesture from Dubna’s Mayor Valeri Prokh added to the great event. The spectators were asked to vote for their personality of the weekend. The Mayor presented the special crystal awards to the winners, Clementine Lucine (FRA) and Jaret Llewellyn (CAN).
1. Mandy Nightingale (USA) – 7700
2. Danyelle Bennett (USA) – 7150
3. Marion Aynaud (FRA) – 6980
4. Tatiana Churakova (RUS) – 6500
1. Nicolas LeForestier (FRA) – 11100
2. Oleg Deviatovski (BLR) – 10970
3. Olivier Fortamps (BEL) – 10760
4. Aliaksei Zharnasek (BLR) – 10340
1. Ageliki Andriopoulou (GRE) – 51.3m
2. Nancy Chardin (FRA) – 50.1m
3. June Fladborg (DEN) – 49.1m
4. Marie Vympranietsova (GRE) – 46.6m
1. Jaret Llewellyn (CAN) – 70.9m
2. Freddy Krueger (USA) – 68.8m
3. Ryan Dodd (CAN) – 66.6m
4. Mark Lane (USA) – 66.5m
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