Shock results at Mandurah Waterski & Wakeboard World Cup threatened by Cyclone Olwyn in Western Australia
It was an extraordinary weekend at the 43rd World Cup Stop of the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF). For the fourth time, the City of Mandurah included Wakeboard and Waterski Jump in their Action Sports Games. With dolphins, pelicans and over 100,000 spectators on site plus athletes from 21 countries, this turned out to be a very different competition.
Three World Champions were destined this weekend not to take top honors at the Mandurah World Cup! Only one would succeed. Nobody expected what would emerge. MasterCraft again provided the World Cup boats and the support services.
On Friday, tropical Cyclone Olwyn delivered wind gusts of over 200kph as it vented its fury on the coastline north of Mandurah. Anticipating approaching trouble on the water, IWWF officials declared that Friday Jump performances might be used as the official results if conditions deteriorated. As it turned out, this was a wise decision. For the Wakeboarders, they were more fortunate. Their time slots delivered reasonably good conditions and towards Sunday Finals time, blue skies and sunny weather returned once again.
The drama began for the Jumpers on Friday. As an extreme sport, approaching a Jump Ramp at over 120kph is challenging at the best of times. Early influences of Cyclone Olwyn were already creating choppy waters. For the Women’s,eight athletes chased four final’s places. Lauren Morgan (USA), Marie Vympranietsova (GRE) on borrowed equipment, Nancy Chardin (FRA) and Marion Ellis (FRA) were unable to get beyond 44.8m to qualify. Then followed a fantastic battle for the Podium. June Fladborg (DEN) pushed hard for 46.0m but was quickly beaten by the top seeds Jutta Menistrina (FIN) and World Record Holder Natallia Travers. With Travers 46.6m on the board, only the current World Champion Jacinta Carroll (AUS) remained. Having won the Moomba Masters just last week, and true to form, her 48.8m was yet another victory.
On Friday March 13th, thirteen Men Jumpers entered the water! Conditions deteriorated and skies darkened. The first six Jumpers struggled for distance. Scot Ellis (USA) posted 55.2m at the half way mark. Now the battle was on. The Miranda brothers Felipe and Rodrigo (CHI) raised the tempo with 58.5m and 59.6m. Damien Sharman (GBR) failed to beat this as Igor Morozov (RUS) took the lead with an impressive 61.6m. Germany’s Bojan Schipner wowed the crowd with 63.3m to take the lead from the Russian. With just Ryan Dodd (CAN) and World Record Holder Freddy Krueger (USA) on the dock, a classic battle for gold lay ahead. Dodd immediately scored 64.0m on his final attempt as Krueger took to the water. Positioned back on his heels on Jumps 1 and 2 the fans could not believe their eyes his best was 55.1m so far. On Jump 3, often the clincher for Krueger, the SplashEye scoreboard showed 52.0m – and the World Record holder would not be on the podium. In World Cup history, this was unprecedented. An IWWF World Champion was out of the medals!
For Women’s Wakeboard, the drama continued to make this an unforgettable weekend. With choppy waters, the riders coped well. As usual, the Heats and LCQ’s saw the best survive – including the 16 year-old Australian sensation Chloe Mills. The outstanding performances at this point came from 2013 Mandurah World Cup winner Bec Gange (AUS) and IWWF World Champion Raimi Merritt (USA). As the Finals began, more typical Mandurah weather returned. While Chloe Mills (AUS) and Ashley Leugner (CAN) performed well, the standard was just too high to progress. Bec Gange (AUS) was the first surprise. She was beaten by Sweden’s Rider of the Year, Carro Djupsjo. That left Nicola Butler USA who took silver here a year ago – and World Champion Raimi Merritt (USA). In execution, intensity and composition, Butler was sensational. Her score of 54.56 presented a huge challenge for Raimi Merritt. Although Merritt was highly impressive, Nicola Butler could not be beaten – even by a World Champion. Yet another drama for the scoreboard!
The Men Riders had to battle through 4 Heats, 2 LCQ’s and 3 Semi-Finals. Greatly impressing the judges were past Mandurah World Cup medallist Shota Tezuka (JPN), defending and IWWF World Champion Harley Clifford (AUS), newcomer Noah Flegel (USA), and past Athlete of the Year Massi Piffaretti (ITA). In his Semi-Final, Clifford scored almost perfect marks, just ahead of Tezuka. All changed in the Finals! Korea’s Yun Sang Hyun now set the pace with a score of 80.89. Cory Teunissen (AUS) came next with an almost perfect 92.67. Massi Piffaretti (ITA) got close with 86.78. This just left the super-stars Shota Tezuka (JPN) and Harley Clifford (AUS). Tezuka was the first major upset with 84.45 with two better performances already on the board. Only Harley Clifford (AUS) could now change the leader board. As ever, his performance was almost flawless. However, on a day of unending surprises, his score of 91.56 was not enough to take the Mandurah World Cup 2015 title from Cory Teunissen (AUS).
It was a World Cup of new champions. Mandurah will have certainly got the fans guessing about the season ahead. From weather cyclones to unending surprises on the water, this was certainly a special World Cup to remember.
WATERSKI JUMP RESULTS
When Deputy Premier Minister Dr Kim Hames (MLA) wished all the contestants good luck at the Opening Ceremony in Mandurah, few could have guessed the outcome. Event organiser Tim Thirsk of Action Sports Promotions is already planning a return to Western Australia in 2016.