Over 200,000 spectators attend Melbourne's annual Moomba Masters this year as waterski and wakeboard popularity soars
The magnificent downtown Melbourne site, with its dramatic Skyscrapers towering over the Yarra River, has always been a thrilling experience for the invited Waterskiers and Wakeboarders. This year, athletes from 15 countries competed for the coveted trophies in Slalom, Tricks, Jump and Wakeboard. Weather conditions were also near perfect following the extraordinary Summer heat some weeks ago during the Australian Open Tennis Championships. Nautique provided all of the boats and technical support, including the new record breaking Nautique 200 model.
All results are available at : http://www.iwwfed-ea.org/classic/14AUS326/
Four current holders of Waterski World Records took on the challenge this year. In Men’s Slalom, there was a huge gasp from the enormous crowds as the current Slalom World Record holder Nate Smith (USA) failed to make it out of the Semi Finals. To add to the drama, in the Finals, defending Moomba Masters title-holder Chris Parrish (USA), also missed his entry gates on his second pass. This opened up the entire Slalom event. In a close battle with Brian Detrick (USA) and two-time past winner Aaron Larkin (NZL), it was the turn of Italy’s Thomas Degasperi to triumph. Having won the title of World Slalom Champion in 2007 and 2011, this was his first Moomba Masters title with a score of 3 buoys on the 10.75m line.
Women’s Slalom had less drama but many superb performances. This time the defending Moomba Masters title-holder and 2011 World Champion Whitney McClintock (CAN) was again in superb form. Although pushed hard by past World and Moomba Champion Emma Sheers (AUS), and 24-time US National Champion April Coble Eller, she successfully defended her Moomba 2014 title. As an Overall Skier, this past World Overall Champion looks set to be the one to beat for some time to come.
In Tricks, the new generation of super stars really made their mark! In the Women’s event, 19 year-old Arizona student Erika Lang showed why she set a recent World Record of 10,180 points. Although pushed hard by Natallia Berdnikova (BLR) and Whitney McClintock (CAN), her score of 8670 was enough to beat the field and take the 2014 Moomba title. In the Men’s event, once again the youngest Finalist and another 19 year-old, Joshua Briant (AUS), was one of only two competitors to break the 10,000 mark. As a Junior World Overall Champion and Junior Moomba Champion, his score of 10,600 was 590 points ahead of Jimmy Siemers (USA), the 2003 World Tricks Champion. Pierre Ballon (FRA) took the Silver medal in the 2013 World Championships and captured the Moomba Bronze medal this time.
The unprecedented numbers of spectators raised the roof as Women’s Jump began. Only last November, Australia’s own 21 year-old Jacinta Carroll took the title of World Jump Champion in Santiago, Chile. Expectations were very high! As it turned out, only two contestants exceeded 50 meters on this challenging Yarra River site. Marion Mathieu (FRA) was first with 50.2m. World Record holder Natallia Berdnikova (BLR) then pushed it to 52.3m. After two attempts, Jacinta Carroll still could not do what the 200,000 spectators really wanted! In an all-or-nothing final attempt, she somehow found an extra half meter to the huge applause in Downtown Melbourne. Her score of 52.9m gave her the gold medal.
Before we even got to the Men’s Jump Finals, strong contender Scot Ellis (USA) tore a calf muscle to the great disappointment of all. As a 1988 Junior World Overall champion, his status is now legendary. Almost all the Men’s distances achieved exceeded 60 meters. Zack Worden (USA) set the early pace with 63.6m. As a past Junior World Champion, his return from injury was impressive. Then Germany’s rising star 25 year-old Bojan Schipner took the lead with 65.2m. That just left the World Record Holder and current World Jump Champion Freddy Krueger (USA) to take on the challenge. True to form, this super-star landed 65.5m on his second attempt and returned to the dock to the huge cheers of the Melbourne crowd.
It was then time for the thousands of Wakeboard fans to welcome their Riders to the Yarra River. The entry list was crammed with superstars. As the Nautique G23 created the perfect wakes, all waited to see if the almost unbeatable Harley Clifford (AUS) could bring another victory for the home crowd. They were not disappointed. As the defending Moomba Masters Champion, World Champion and World Cup Champion, his aerial acrobatics were in a different zone once again. There was no doubt about it, the title was Harley Clifford’s once again. Close on his heels was the 2013 Moomba Masters runner-up, 17 year-old Tony Iacconi (AUS), followed by one of the most experienced Pro Tour Riders, Danny Harf (USA).
Once again, Darren Robertson, Frances Hynes and the entire Moomba Masters team did a first class job in putting a worldwide spotlight on their magnificent Downtown Yarra River Melbourne natural watersports arena for the very best athletes in the world to enjoy.
Next weekend will see the 39th World Cup Stop take place at Mandurah in Western Australia. As part of the Action Sports Games, the Moomba Masters Jump and Wakeboard athletes are now on their way to take part. A FREE live Webcast will be available at : www.IWWF.tv