If getting off to a good start is a sign of great things ahead, last night’s World Championships Opening Ceremony was easily the most impressive ever staged by a host. As the sun set over the flat calm Volga River Watersports Stadium in Dubna, Russia, the capacity audience of over 25,000 who had all paid handsome prices for their seats, were treated to a very special occasion. The enormous river-side floating stage with digital backdrops, full theatre lighting and sound systems, was placed right beside the Slalom Course – and all awaited the 22.00hrs opening curtain to rise !
Against a backdrop of a comfortable 24C / 78Fh evening sunset, the flags and athletes of 37 Countries were introduced to the audience. This was followed by the speeches of Kuno Ritschard IWWF President, Valery Prokh, Dubna City Mayor, Viktor Volokhov, President of the Russian Waterski Federation, Boris Grishin, Russian Ministry of Tourism representative, and Dmitry Bolshakov, Deputy Chairman Moscow Region Government. The customary International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) Oaths were taken by athlete Vladimir Rianzin RUS and official Inessa Potes BLR.
As the lights dimmed, two white swans were released on the water just in front of the crowded auditorium and the show began. What transpired from that moment was both breath-taking and history making. Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet, first performed in 1877, in all its 134 years of existence has never been performed on water before this weekend. Once the flags of the competing countries were marched from the stage, the Bolshoi Ballet troupe from Moscow arrived. We were treated to a very special performance of Swan Lake which was outstanding. What a perfect start to the IWWF Waterski World Championships.
Somehow, the Dubna organizers removed the enormous floating stage, flag poles and all the electronics overnight. At 09.00hrs on Monday morning, the early seeds of 45 Men and Women Slalom skiers began their challenge of getting to the Finals next weekend in perfect water conditions. They were followed by 28 Jumpers. Chief Judge Nikki Lee (USA) and the team ran the day without a hitch.
The best Ladies Slalom scores on this first day came from Megan Ross NZL with 4.5 buoys on the 12m line, Alex Lauretano USA with 3.5 buoys on the same length, and Cathryn Humphrey AUS just a half buoy less. For the Men, Ricardas Lazinskas LTU scored 5 buoys on the 12m line, Alexander Mistryukov RUS got 3.5 buoys on the same line and Sergey Kamyshenko RUS scored one buoy less.
Jump conditions were also perfect. Russia again performed well with Olga Kashitsina scoring 47.6m to top the Ladies. Manon Costard FRA scored 44.8m and Kate Adriaensen BEL 44.3m. In the Men section, Herman Beliakou BLR had a massive wipe-out on his first attempt, quickly recovered and then scored not just a personal best distance of 60.1m, but also the best score of the day. Santiago Correa COL scored 53.3m and Luis Verges Noguera ESP scored 53.2m.
The international boat drivers who will take control of the MasterCraft throughout this week, Davide Gandola ITA, Ian Campbell GBR, Mike Ross NZL and Mario Pigossi DOM, will be on duty again for a long day tomorrow which will kick off at 09.00hrs here in Dubna, Russia. With excellent weather again forecasted for the coming days, all hope that we can get to the Finals on Saturday and Sunday without interruption.
For the latest results throughout these World Championships, please see : http://www.iwwfed-ea.org/
The special World Championships information channel is at : http://www.iwsftournament.com/ChiefJudgeBB
There is also a Twitter feed at : @ChiefJudgeDubna