On The City of Chuncheon in north east South Korea has reason to feel proud today. As the hosts of the 1st World Leisure Games with 12,600 athletes and 42 Disciplines from 50 countries involved, the first major international Final was completed yesterday in style. Organised by the Korea Waterski & Wakeboard Association (KWWA) and the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF), this 30th Stop of the IWWF World Cup series attracted the highest ranked athletes from 14 countries and a large spectator gallery.
This 30th World Cup Stop took place on the magnificent lake in the centre of the official 1st World Leisure Games Village, putting it within easy reach of the visitors from 50 countries and Chuncheon residents. It was attended throughout by Mr Een-Nam Son, CEO 1st World Leisure Games & Congress.
The first class organization of the KWWA impressed all and added greatly to the occasion. As at every World Cup Stop, the boats were supplied by MasterCraft.
This 30th IWWF World Cup Stop included Waterski Jump, Waterski Shortboard and Wakeboard. The spectacular Stars of Florida Ski Show also added a touch of glamour to the event. While heavy rain and 33C temperatures posed some challenges during the Preliminary Rounds, the Monday Finals enjoyed glorious sunshine and perfect water conditions for all.
The six Heats of the World Cup Wakeboard Preliminaries attracted a full house of enthusiastic spectators. As the later Men’s Heats 1 and 2 were completed on the final day, some major stars had already dropped out. These included IWWF 2009 World’s silver medalist Austin Hair USA, four time European Champion Dan Nott GBR and Korean National Champion Jaemjan Padiwat. The Monday Finals included the two talented Phillip and Bob Soven brothers from the USA, past IWWF World Champion, Andrew Adkison USA, and Harley Clifford AUS, World Cup star and four-time US Pro Tour Champion. While Adkison lead the field with an outstanding performance, the eventual battle was between 17 year-old Harley Clifford and the more experienced 21 year-old Phillip Soven. At this 30th World Cup Stop, it was Harley Clifford who took the gold medal with a stunning performance. The six Women Finalists also presented a very impressive talent list. These included IWWF World Champion Raequel Hoffman USA, three-time World Cup Champion Raimi Merritt USA, and British National Champion, Nicola Butler. While Hoffman struggled to reach her usual form, Australia’s Pro Tour Champion Amber Wing set an early high score. Nicola Butler edged ahead but that left Raimi Merrit with a clear view of what was required to take this title. At just 17 years of age, she captured her fourth well-deserved World Cup gold medal in Chuncheon.
In the Women’s and Mens Shortboard Preliminaries, there were some surprises. Both the World Record holder Clementine Lucine FRA and the past World Champion Mandy Nightingale USA did not make it through. Neither did Nicolas LeForestier FRA, recently recovered from injury and current World Record Holder, and Javier Julio ARG, the current World Overall Champion.
In Shortboard, the four Women Finalists included Danyelle Bennett USA, Marion Aynaud FRA, Natalia Berdnikava BLR and Iris Cambray FRA. Bennett is a past World U21 Champion, Aynaud is a past World Junior Champion, Berdnikova is a past World Record Holder and 17 year-old Cambray is the current Junior World Champion. This guaranteed a thrilling challenge. While Bennett was close to her Personal Best score, Aynaud took the lead with 8310 points. Berdnikova quickly pushed this to 8520 points. Now it was all down to the 17 year old Shortboard sensation Cambray. Drama entered the scene. As she approached the Course, a skilled motorized Hanglider Pilot had some fun in coming within a few meters above her head. This resulted in a well-deserved re-ride. Showing extraordinary maturity, the 17 year old Iris Cambray went on to score 8850 points, just 250 short of the World Record. This guaranteed her the Chuncheon World Cup gold medal.
The Men’s Shortboard Finals also produced outstanding performances. While Belarus athletes tend to dominate these days, Oleg Deviatovski was disappointed with his 9530 points on this occasion. Jimmy Siemers USA set the pace with an outstanding score of 10,720. None could match this till we got to the last two competitors. The reigning World Champion, Aliaksei Zharnasek BLR, pushed this to 11,770 points – just 630 short of the World Record. Twenty year-old Herman Beliakou BLR was the only remaining challenger. His great effort produced 11,490 points, just enough for the silver medal, leaving the gold medal for Zharnasek once again.
The Jump Preliminaries also produced surprises in the Men’s event. The Women were more true to form. With some warm rain interruptions, the 2009 European Champion Damien Sharman GBR and World Cup star Scot Ellis USA did not make it through.
In excellent water conditions, Marion Mathieu FRA set the standard for the Women’s Jump Finals with a distance of 47.1m. The 2009 European Champion and rising star Maj Lund Jepsen DEN quickly raised this to 48.1m. Now it was down to the past US Masters Champion Natalia Berdnikava BLR and the World Record holder June Fladborg DEN to take on the challenge. Surprisingly, neither succeeded. However, Fladborg did take the silver medal with a distance of 47.8m.
As the sun set over the surrounding picturesque Chuncheon mountains in this beautiful region of South Korea, six Men Jump Finalists rounded off a wonderful day in hot sunshine. While the distances scored were unusually low, all pushed to the limit to try to capture this prestigious Chuncheon World Cup title. Russia’s National Champion, Igor Morozov, took an early lead with 59.0m. Surprisingly, third last off the dock, Ryan Dodd CAN, had to settle for 58.5m and third place. That left Mark Lane USA and World Record holder Freddy Krueger USA with the last challenge. Lane tried hard but failed. Krueger, who is now a World Cup legend for his ability to make the most of whatever challenge arises, brought the crowd to their feet on his very first attempt. His 62.0m distance was the gold medal performance of the day.
Congratulations to KWWA and the 1st World Leisure Games organizers. This was an outstanding experience for all involved. The quality of the organization on all maters was certainly impressive.
For all results, see : http://www.iwwfed-ea.org/classic/10FRA98
For World Cup updates, see : http://waterskiandwakeboardworldcup.com/
1. Raimi Merritt USA 62.3
2. Nicola Butler GBR 57.1
3. Amber Wing AUS 55.8
1. Harley Clifford AUS 84.67
2. Phillip Soven USA 79.56
3. Andrew Adkison USA 65.13
1. Iris Cambray FRA 8850
2. Natalia Berdnikava BLR 8520
3. Marion Aynaud FRA 8310
1. Aliaksei Zharnasek BLR 11770
2. Herman Beliakou BLR 11490
3. Jimmy Siemers USA 10720
1. Maj Lund Jepsen DEN 48.1m
2. June Fladborg DEN 47.8m
3. Marion Mathieu FRA 47.1m
1. Freddy Krueger USA 62.0m
2. Igor Morozov RUS 59.0m
3. Ryan Dodd CAN 58.5m