One week ago, six Waterski athletes won the titles of World Champion at the bi-annual World Championships staged this year in Austria. Just one week later, at the Enniskillen Stop of the Waterski World Cup series in Northern Ireland, not all of the five World Champions who attended went home happy. This 19th Stop of the World Cup series had an intriguing mix of great weather conditions, a very picturesque site and some real drama on the water. Known as Lakeland County, the Fermanagh area is renowned for its Beleek Pottery, Boating, Fishing, Golf and its dramatic un-spoilt landscape.

With just four places available in the Finals for Ladies and six for Men, there was no room for error for the fifty one top ranked athletes from sixteen countries. Slalom came first. In the Ladies event, all were thrilled to see Emma Sheers (AUS) return to the big stage. Following her capture of the 2003 World Slalom title, she took a family break. Now she had the highest Preliminary Round score of 3 buoys on the 11.25m line. Surprisingly, Michelle Simpson (USA) and Clementine Lucine (FRA) failed to make the cut. In the Finals, Sheers did not fare so well and had to settle for fourth place. The 2006 defending Enniskillen Stop Champion, Natalie Hamrick Halt (USA), was in unbeatable form again and took the title with a score of 2.5 buoys on the 11.25m line.  In the Mens event, the new World Slalom champion, Thomas Degasperi (ITA), made it to the Finals but the short recovery time from the previous weekend in Austria played its part and surprisingly, he had to settle for fifth place. Then drama entered the frame. Glen Campbell (GBR) lost a tie-break battle with Jodi Fisher (GBR) at this Stop in 2005. Again he was faced with a tie-break for the 2007 title. This time the defending World Cup Enniskillen Stop champion, Drew Ross (CAN), was his adversary. A week ago, he lost out with a damaged ski binding. Many felt that justice was done at last when Campbell eventually took the well deserved title in a thrilling finish with a margin of 3.5 buoys.

Shortboard came next. The Mens event produced an exciting but predictable result. World Record holder and World Champion Nicolas LeForestier (FRA) is truly unbeatable at the moment. He won the World Champion title a week ago with a score of 11,860. He took this World Cup title with 11,250 points. These are both outstanding achievements. Five athletes scored over 10,000 points. Belarus athlete Oleg Deviatovski took an impressive second place with 10,790. The Ladies event again produced a surprise. World Champion, Clementine Lucine (FRA) ran in to uncharacteristic trouble in the Preliminary round. Mandy Nightingale (USA), the defending Enniskillen Shortboard champion, responded by making this her double victory with 7820 points.

As Jump approached, a light head breeze from the Enniskillen Castle end of the site, a large crowd of very enthusiastic spectators plus some warm sunshine, produced all the ingredients required for a great World Cup Stop conclusion. In the Ladies event, sadly Rhoni Barton Bishoff (USA) was forced to retire with the recurrence of a shoulder injury. So often in the past year, the World Jump champion Ageliki Andriopoulou (GRE) routinely took the gold medal Jump award. This was not the case here in Enniskillen. June Fladborg (DEN) was the Jump runner-up at this Stop in both 2005 and 2006. She was also runner-up in the 2005 World Championships. Equipped with her impressive pink 92 inch Stokes skis, and with a score 49.3m distance, Andriopoulou could not beat the Dane and had to settle for silver this time with 48.3m. As with Glen Campbell (GBR) in Slalom, Fladborg finally broke that runner-up jinx.

With the sun sinking to the west and the shadows of Enniskillen Castle growing  longer, the top six male Jumpers in the World took to the stage behind the red and white MasterCraft boat. Both Jimmy Siemers (USA) and Ryan Fitts (USA) landed impressive distances of 64.1m and 64.0m. Eventually, and almost inevitably, it was down to the two super stars, Jaret Llewellyn (CAN) and Freddy Krueger (USA). The cheering spectators knew that this would be a climactic conclusion to this World Cup stop. Llewellyn kicked off with a very impressive  Jump set of 65.3m, 62.9m and 64.0m. All great distances and he did win this Stop in 2005. Krueger’s first was 65.3m – a tie with Llewellyn’s best. Was the 2007 World Champion in trouble ? He was beaten by Llewellyn in the previous World Cup Stop in Dubna in Russia. Jump number two was special and when the score of 65.9m was announced, Krueger simply returned to the starting dock and began his celebrations. Job done.

As the uplifting strains of the lone Bag Piper drifted across the River Erne, the athletes received their trophies and the spectators returned home with memories of another intriguing Waterski World Cup Stop in Enniskillen in Northern Ireland. The sponsors too were impressed. Northern Ireland Events, Waterways Ireland, Fermanagh District Council and MasterCraft must soon consider the future of this Stop and all hope for a return in 2008.

For all the results details, see

This was the last World Cup Waterski Stop of 2007. The Waterski and Wakeboard World Cup series will continue with the final Wakeboard Stops in Singapore and Qatar on September 22nd, 23rd and November 3rd.



CONTACT : Des Burke-Kennedy, Media Chairman, International Waterski Federation

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