FRANCE, GREECE, CANADA AND USA ATHLETES PRODUCE OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES FOR WATERSKI & WAKEBOARD WORLD CUP SERIES IN NORTHERN IRELAND
The town of Enniskillen in Northern Ireland really took this Stop of the World Cup series to heart. It also provided a totally new level of competition technology in partnership with the Irish Waterski Federation and MasterCraft. Add to this a large and enthusiastic audience, outstanding performances from the athletes and strong local media support and the outcome was certainly impressive.
Following previous 2006 World Cup Stops in Qatar, France, China and Russia, it was time to return for the second consecutive year to Enniskillen. Global Airport chaos did not prevent a full attendance by the qualifying athletes from 18 countries. Many were forced to divert to other Airports, hire cars and even use Sea Ferries to reach the competition site on time. Cool temperatures had no impact on the warm welcoming atmosphere. The north west wind direction was perfect for the Jump event.
For the first time ever, a 250m section of a system called Wave Barrier was used to create a calm competition site in spite of the large volume of passing pleasure boats. Kuno Ritschard, President of the International Water Ski Federation stated that this could open up many new possible venues for future World Cup Stops. The automatic electronic SplashEye jump measurement system which requires no human intervention was also used throughout this World Cup Stop. Both were invented in Ireland. This was their first major exposure to the world at large. MasterCraft also unveiled their first diesel powered waterski prototype competition boat and caused quite a stir with its lower running costs and a noise level almost 50% lower than the conventional craft. This demonstration boat was powered by Volkswagen Marine and could be available to the public within twelve months. To add to this array of interesting inventions, a simple “Slalometer” was used to explain to the public the significance of rope shortenings in Slalom scoring.
With only four positions available in each Women’s World Cup Finals and six in the Mens, many of the 47 athletes could not survive the Preliminary rounds. The uncharacteristic Semi Final surprises were the failure to qualify of the 2005 Enniskillen World Cup Slalom champion Karen Truelove (USA), the World Slalom Champion Will Asher (GBR) and the 2006 Qatar Shortboard champion, Jimmy Siemers (USA).
The Ladies Slalom Final came first starting with Clementine Lucine (FRA). She was the only athlete to qualify for all three Finals – as she also did in Dubna in Russia just two weeks ago. Her score of four buoys on the 12 meter line set the pace. Sarah Green (GBR) tied this score but it was Natalie Hamrick’s day as she was the only one to score anything on the 11.25m line. Having had two major wins in the USA and Europe in recent weeks, her return to form was very well timed. The surprise in the Men’s Slalom final was the failure of Italy’s talented Thomas Degasperi to clear the 12m line. Last year’s Enniskillen winner, Jodi Fisher (GBR) had an outstanding score of 5.5 buoys on the very short 11.25m line. However, the tall 6’4” Canadian, Drew Ross, stole the show with a great score of two buoys on the even shorter 10.75m line. This was his first World Cup victory.
Shortboard came next. Here the surprise was the early fall in her second Pass of Regina Jaquess (USA). This was her first World Cup appearance. While Danyelle Bennett (USA) and Clementine Lucine (FRA) clocked up very respectable scores, the World Champion Mandy Nightingale (USA) returned to the top following a second place recently in the World Cup Stop in Dubna in Russia. Her score in Enniskillen of 8530 points was 580 points ahead of her nearest rival Lucine. The Men’s Shortboard Final was a dramatic affair. Aliaksei Zharnasek (BLR) was the year-to-date points leader. World Record holder Nicolas LeForestier (FRA) had a very poor World Cup performance in Qatar last April and was still playing “catch up “. Oleg Deviatovski (BLR) scored a new personal best of 11,140 points and LeForestier was then forced to take some serious risks. However, on this day it all paid off as he snatched the title from Deviatovski with a winning score of 11,670 points.
When the Jump Finals arrived, the Enniskillen arena in the shadow of its 12th Century Castle overlooking the site was packed to capacity. Even the weather was kind while the rest of Western Europe suffered very heavy rains. The Ladies battle was a predictable duel between World Champion Ageliki Andriopoulou (GRE) and Denmark’s June Fladborg. Fladborg put enormous pressure on the Greek athlete by posting an early score of 47.2m. distance. Andriopoulou then scored zero on her first attempt, to increase the suspense. However, her following distance of 48.9m took the title and also set a new Enniskillen Course Record. In the Men’s Jump event, Jaret Lewellyn (CAN) returned to defend his 2005 Enniskillen title. As predicted, Freddy Krueger (USA) was his greatest threat. Krueger set the pace with a score of 68.2m plus a new Irish Allcomers Record. However, with eleven World Records to his credit, Lewellyn on this occasion could only get to 66.8m to take second place. Sebastien DiPasqua (SWI) scored an impressive distance of 64.4m and a World Cup third place.
At the closing World Cup Banquet in the nearby Manor House Ballroom, the Enniskillen sponsors, Fermanagh District Council, Waterways Ireland and Northern Ireland Events Company, all declared that they were looking forward to the return of the World Cup series to this very picturesque site in 2007.
While there is still one Wakeboard event to complete in September in Singapore in the 2006 Waterski & Wakeboard World Cup series, this was the final Waterski event. The total season’s points have now been calculated and the overall World Cup Waterski winners will be announced in the coming days.
SLALOM WINNERS – Women
1. Natalie Hamrick (USA) 0.5 x 11.25m
2. Sarah Green (GBR) 4 x 12m
3. Clementine Lucine (FRA) 4 x 12m
SLALOM WINNERS – Men
1. Drew Ross (CAN) – 2 x 10.75m
2. Jodi Fisher (GBR) – 5.5 x 11.25m
3. Jamie Beauchesne (USA) – 4 x 11.25m
SHORTBOARD WINNERS – Women
1. Mandy Nightingale (USA) – 8,530
2. Clementine Lucine (FRA) – 7,950
3. Danyelle Bennett (USA) – 5,860
SHORTBOARD WINNERS – Men
1. Nicolas LeForestier (FRA) – 11,670
2. Oleg Deviatovski (BLR) – 11,140
3. Aliaksei Zharnosek (BLR) – 11,060
JUMP WINNERS – Women
1. Ageliki Andriopoulou (GRE) – 48.9m
2. June Fladborg (DEN) – 47.2m
3. Clementine Lucine (FRA) – 45.7m
JUMP WINNERS – Men
1. Freddy Krueger (USA) – 68.2m
2. Jaret Llewellyn (CAN) – 66.8m
3. Sebastien DiPasqua – 64.4m