Drama and high expectations as the Waterski World Championships begin at Boca Laguna in Chapala, Mexico
Just days ago, the first bombshell arrived. Waterski World Jump Record holder and World Champion, Freddy Krueger (USA), had planned to challenge for his sixth IWWF title. He took the title in 2003, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013. Now a sore patella tendon, which has nagged him for some time, has forced him to reluctantly make a last-minute withdrawal. Reports are that he will require three months rest in order to be fit for the challenging 2016 season ahead.
Hours later, news emerged that Jacinta Carroll (AUS), the defending Ladies World Jump Champion and current World Record holder, had damaged a toe in her right foot. However, in true Australian spirit, she has just increased her preparations in the gym and is determined to defend her hard won title captured in Santiago Chile two years ago. Will she recover sufficiently to be able to take on the challenge this week? We will know in the coming days.
With these two dramatic events unfolding, this certainly opens the door for several highly successful challengers. In Men’s Jump, top of the pile must be Ryan Dodd (CAN) and Bojan Schipner (GER). Both shared the podium with Krueger in 2013. Dodd won the 2015 US Masters and Mandurah World Cup Stop this year. Schipner was on the podium this season at both the US Open and Mandurah World Cup Stop. Others are also getting closer. Carroll, injury put aside, will be fending off many in the Women’s Jump event, including Natallia Berdnikava (BLR) and Jutta Menestrina (FIN). Berdnikava has already broken the World Record three times and Menestrina is rarely off the Podium these days. An exciting event is certainly in store.
In Slalom, we are facing what could be the greatest World Championships line-up of the decade. Nate Smith (USA) is currently almost unbeatable. With two World Records already to his credit, plus equalling his most recent one this month, he is in great form. There are other strong contenders but watch out for young Freddie Winter (GBR), a relative newcomer to this level but one of the strongest we have seen for some time. Women’s Slalom might well be a battle between the phenomenal athlete Regina Jaquess (USA) and Canada’s super-star Whitney McClintock with her Slalom World Champion titles of 2009 and 2011. McClintock is back with a vengeance. However, with seven World Slalom Records to her credit, Jaquess will take some huge effort to beat.
In Tricks, often seen as Gymnastics on the water, Erika Lang (USA) and Aliaksei Zharnasek (BLR) look set for gold although coming from different eras. Lang, defending World Champion, at just 20 years of age, has already taken titles at the US Masters, U21 World Championships, Moomba Masters, and PanAm Championships, to mention but a few. She also has two World Records under her belt. Excluding injury or a very rare bad day, she has every reason to be confident. Zharnasek, at 35 years of age, is the ultimate professional. As the defending World Tricks Champion and current World Record holder, he has all the experience and must be confident. However, one slip in Tricks is all it takes and watch out for the French attack. Pierre Ballon (FRA) has been ranked number one twice in recent times and Alexandre Poteau (FRA) continues to be very high in the Rankings. Watch out also for Adam Pickos (USA), who at just 24 years of age has already been US National Trick Champion nine times!
Clearly, this is a golden era for Waterskiing. With MasterCraft providing all the boats and technical support and the facilities at Chapala’s Boca Laguna Waterski Club being some of the best in the world, this will be a week to remember.
On Wednesday evening at 18.30hrs, the IWWF will present the International Hall of Fame Awards in the restored historic Chapala Railway Station building nearby. This promises to be a glittering affair. The 2015 Inductees will be athletes Cory Pickos (USA), Mike Kjellander (SWE) and Mike Seipel (USA). Two Officials will also receive Induction Awards, Jeffry Armstrong (USA) and Clint Ward (CAN).
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INTERNATIONAL HALL OF FAME WEBSITE