With National Olympic Committee members from Germany, Chile, Japan, Netherlands and Israel on site to watch the action, plus IWGA President Jose Perurena presenting medals, it was truly a global experience for all !
One athlete in particular made an enormous impression – Waterskier Natallia Berdnikava. For more details, read on.
The drama and many surprises for IWWF athletes were partly weather related. Sunshine, rain, wind and varying temperatures, tested even the most experienced. The first Finals were for Slalom and Tricks. Choppy waters caught many by surprise. The defending Slalom World Games champion, Thomas Degasperi (ITA), was one of three athletes to score on the 10.75m line. However, Adam Sedlmajer (CZE) and Stephen Neveu (CAN) did better than his one buoy score and tied with three buoys each. Sedlmajer, in an exciting run-off and with his recent Overall World Record approved in May, succeeded in adding yet another World title to his growing collection. He is the 2017 World Games Slalom Champion. For the women, with Manon Costard (FRA) missing through injury, the final battle was between Kate Adriaensen (BEL), Clementine Lucine (FRA) and Geena Krueger (GER). Adriaensen, a past World Games medalist, tied with Lucine at five buoys on the 12m line, enough for a Bronze medal for her. However, following a scare in the Preliminary Round, Krueger secured the only score on the 11.25m line and her two bouys gave her the World Games Slalom title, ahead of Lucine.
In Tricks, hot contender Adam Pickos (USA) did not get through the Prelims. Then the crowds gasped as the World Record holder and defending World Games Tricks Champion, Aliaksei Zharnasek (BLR), fell on his first pass in the Finals, taking just seventh place. However, 22 year-old Joshua Briant (AUS) outperformed all in the Preliminary Round with 10,510 points and with 10,990 in the Finals, he took this World Games title. Past US Masters champion Pierre Ballon (FRA) got close with 10,220 points to take Silver. Olivier Fortamps (BEL) made a welcome return to major Internationals in taking the Bronze medal. The Women’s event was also full of drama. World Record holder Anna Gay (USA) dominated the Preliminary Round but had to settle for 7,850 points in the Final. That opened the door for a great battle between the very experienced Clementine Lucine (FRA) and Natallia Berdnikava (BLR) who was now set for a very special day. Between them, they have a history of 14 World Records ! Berdnikava’s 8,720 points was enough for a Gold victory and the World Games title with Lucine scoring 8,250 for second place. For Natallia Berdnikava even more was yet to come !
In Wakeboard, again choppy water and chilly winds tested all. Europe Africa champion David O’Caoimh (IRL) went down twice on attempting a routine Slim 5, usually a routine trick for him. Guy Firer (ISR) was the first to cope well for a well-earned World Games Bronze Medal. However, Shota Tezuka (JPN) was in a league of his own outscoring all in execution, intensity and composition to take the Gold Medal. Korea’s Yun Sanghyun took Silver. It was a much closer battle in the Women’s event. Three-time Waterski World Trick Record holder Erika Lang (USA) pushed Nicola Butler (USA) to the limit and almost got there. She and Butler dominated with Butler eventually taking Gold and Lang Silver. Italy’s young Alice Virag took Bronze.
Finally, with a slight head wind and improving conditions, it was time for Jump. In the Women’s Preliminary Round, three athletes exceeded a distance of 46.0m. In the Finals, again it was the same three who dominated and this time they all exceeded 47.0m – Jutta Menestrina (FIN), Marie Vympranietsova (GRE) and Natallia Berdnikava (BLR) yet again. Having already taken the Tricks title, with a distance of 48.8m, Berdnikava completed a perfect World Games week with her second Gold Medal with yet one more surprise to come. Vympranietsova got very close with 48.2m ahead of Menestrina’s 47.7m. All eyes now turned to young Jack Critchley (GBR) in the Mens Jump Finals. He surprised all by coming out on top with a distance of 60.5m in the Preliminary Round. From the start, it was past medallist Rodrigo Miranda (CHI) who set the pace in the Finals with 62.8m. Hot favourites Igor Morozov (RUS) and Adam Sedlmajer (CZE) got close with 62.2m and 59.7m. Aliaksandr Isayeu (BLR) got even closer with 62.4m Eventually, IWWF World Cup star Bojan Schipner (GER) thrilled the spectators with a magnificent 64.6m distance to take the Gold Medal, ahead of Miranda and Isayeu.
A message from our IWGA World Games organisers then announced that with 3,000 athletes competing from 110 countries, Nautique sponsored Waterskier Natallia Berdnikava (BLR) was declared World Games Athlete of the Day. Adding this honour to her two Gold World Games medals certainly made it a day to remember and a perfect finish for all the IWWF team.
About the IWWF: The International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) is the world governing body for towed watersports and has 91 affiliated Federations world-wide. It was founded in 1946 in Geneva, Switzerland. It is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the sole authority for Waterski and Wakeboard. The IWWF is an affiliate member of the Association of IOC Recognized International Sports Federation (ARISF). The IWWF’s sports disciplines include, amongst others, Tournament Waterskiing (slalom, tricks & jump), Wakeboard, Cable Wakeboard, Cable Waterskiing, Disabled Waterskiing, Show Skiing, Ski Racing and Barefoot Waterskiing