Australia and Great Britain take China gold medals in style at spectacular Linyi City Wakeboard World Cup Stop
Fans of the World Cup of the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) enjoyed some of the all-time greatest Wakeboard performances this weekend over the entire forty-four Stop Series to date. Adding sunshine and clear blue skies at the dramatic Yi River downtown location in Linyi City created a special experience rarely achieved at sports events.
With athletes from 17 countries taking part, MasterCraft shipped their XStar competition boats from Australia to complete the presentation at the purpose designed Linyi waterfront Stadium. Deputy Mayor Zhao Aihua also declared IWWF President Kuno Ritschard an Honorary Citizen in recognition of what the World Cup Series and the IWWF have done for this rapidly expanding City and it’s watersports ambitions over the past four years.
As ever, not all of the major international stars made it through the earlier Rounds at this World Cup Stop. Pro Men disappointments included Marcelo Giardi (BRA), Sam Carne (GBR), Daniel Powers (USA) and Shaun Faccio (RSA). For the Pro Women, these included Han Qiu (CHN), Alice Virag (ITA) and Carolina Rodriguez (MEX).
With six riders in both the Pro Men and Pro Women Finals, Taylor McCullough (USA) set the scene for the women with an impressive opening score of 32.22. Coming third off the dock, UK National Champion Charlotte Bryant caught all by surprise. Just five years ago, she was the IWWF Europe Africa Junior Wakeboard Champion. Her score here of 41.67 immediately put her into a different league! In fact, the remaining athletes all struggled to get close. World Wakeboard Champion and World Cup Champion Raimi Merritt (USA) and three-time Canadian National Wakeboard Champion Ashley Leugner (CAN) did best with scores of 40.78 and 40.00 to take silver and bronze. However, this was twenty-three year-old Charlotte Bryant’s first well deserved World Cup victory against some very tough competition.
As the first Pro Men athlete into the Linyi watersports arena, Ireland’s David O’Caoimh, the current Europe Africa Wakeboard Champion, made an enormous impact on the entire Men’s Finals. Following one fall, finishing with a Toe Back 9 brought roars of approval from the fans. His very high score of 84.56 then pushed all the following five riders to their absolute limit. Next out was Yun Sang Hyun (KOR). He clocked up three consecutive Mobe 5’s but with a score of 82.11, that was just not enough to catch David O’Caoimh. Japan’s super star Shota Tezuka is a well-seasoned IWWF World Cup challenger. He has previously taken part in Stops in China, Palembang Indonesia and Mandurah Western Australia. In spite of one fall, his Back to Back 9’s helped him to take the lead with a score of 86.00. Eighteen year-old Tony Iacconi (AUS), the current Perth Aqua Games champion and silver medallist here last year, then got within one point of Tezuka with 85.11. So far, every rider exceeded 80 points which was exceptional. Unusually, IWWF World Champion and World Cup Champion Harley Clifford (AUS) was second last out. He so often dominates all rounds to be the final competitor. Having scored a world record “perfect 100” last May at the US Masters in Callaway Gardens, he responded as true champions do. With a run which included a Toe 9 and Nose Grab Back Mobe 5, his score of 88.78 gave him the lead with just Cory Teunissen AUS yet to come. Teunissen shocked all last March in taking the Mandurah World Cup title ahead of Harley Clifford. As 2015 Rookie of the Year, could he do it again? Finishing with a Heelside 9 after a flawless performance, he got close with a score of 85.78 – and enough for the bronze medal place. The winner yet again was the outstanding athlete Harley Clifford and runner up Shota Tezuka.
Chief Judge and IWWF Asia Confederation President Paul Fong commented that with all six Finalists scoring more than 80 points, this made the 2015 Linyi World Cup Stop one of the highest scoring Wakeboard Finals of all time. In thanking Yao Xinpei, General Secretary of the Chinese Waterski Association and Zhao Aiming, Assoc Director General of the Bureau of Sport, IWWF President Kuno Ritschard also congratulated them and the officials of Linyi on their ambitious ongoing development of an outstanding watersports venue here on the Yi River.
The World Cup Series now moves to Shanghai next weekend for the Cable Wakeboard & Jump Stop on October 3/4.
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IWWF CONTACT : Des Burke-Kennedy, Media Chairman, International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation