The 29th Stop of the Waterski & Wakeboard World Cup Series ended with perfection on many fronts. In temperatures reaching 35C, the 51 athletes from 15 countries were provided with outstanding facilities in Putrajaya Malaysia for this last event of the 2009 World Cup calendar. Based at the Putrajaya Watersports Complex, a short distance from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, an estimated 20,000 spectators attended over the November 7/8 weekend. As a vacation destination, it is certainly one not to be missed !
This was the second highly successful World Cup Stop organized by Putrajaya Corporation and the Malaysian Waterski Federation. MasterCraft were again the official boat sponsors. This final Stop of the season included Slalom, Shortboard and Jump. Live national TV coverage was provided by RTM. The International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) supplied the extensive Webcast facilities for global access. A special TV News Edit was distributed by Satellite to 300 million viewers and an edited TV Show will be distributed to 200 million viewers later this week.
Apart from a short rain disruption in the Preliminary Round, the tight World Cup competition schedule provided non-stop action on the water throughout. In the Slalom Preliminaries, the main surprises came from World Slalom Champion Will Asher GBR, past World Junior / U21 and Open Champion Nicole Arthur GBR and co-holder of the World Record Karina Nowlan AUS. Uncharacteristically, they did not make it through to the Finals.
In the Women’s Slalom Finals, defending Putrajaya champion Clementine Lucine FRA set the pace with a score of 2 buoys on the 12m line/ 35off. Returning quickly from a maternity break, Karen Truelove USA responded with a very impressive score of 0.5 buoys on the shorter 11.25m line / 38off. Just back from a shoulder injury, Anais Amade FRA got close but had to settle for 5 buoys on the longer 12m line. For Karen Truelove, this was a very rewarding World Cup victory, ahead of Anais Amade and Clementine Lucine. The Men’s Slalom Finals kicked off with a surprise from World Record holder Chris Parrish USA. His score of 1.5 buoys on the 11.25m line / 38off did not earn a podium position. It was Jean Baptiste Faisy FRA, who set the pace with 4 buoys on the 11.25m line /38off. Jodi Fisher GBR, World Cup 2008 season overall winner, was the first to reach the 10.75m line / 39off with a score of one buoy. However 34 year-old Slalom specialist Nick Parsons from Utah USA was in a league of his own. His score of 2.5 buoys on the 10.75m line took the title – ahead of Jodi Fisher and JB Faisy.
In Shortboard there were also some Preliminary surprises. World Record Holder Nicolas LeForestier FRA is progressing well from his serious 2008 injuries but did not make the Finals. World Silver Medalist Herman Beliakou BLR was ill in the Preliminaries and also did not make the cut. However, the top scores for both Women and Men were outstanding. The huge Jumbo Screen in the packed Putrajaya Grandstand showed every moment of the Webcast. The slow-motion Shortboard replays kept the spectators glued to the screen ! Two-time World Champion Mandy Nightingale USA kicked off with an impressive score of 7790 points. Natalia Berdnikova BLR then entered the arena. She has a pending World Record of 9080 points – making her the first woman ever to break the 9000 barrier. Her score of 7930 points gave her the lead. Then it was all down to 19 year-old Marion Aynaud FRA to take up the challenge. As the 2006 World Junior Champion and 2007 World U21 Champion, she has been an extraordinary discovery for the World Cup series. Her score of 8130 points was flawless and she very much deserved the gold medal – ahead of Natalia Berdnikova and Mandy Nightingale. In the Men’s event, the US Masters Champion and defending Putrajaya World Cup Champion, Jimmy Siemers USA, set the pace with a score of 9700 points. Belgium’s recently married Olivier Fortamps was very happy to score 9890 points. With only one skier remaining, both Siemers and Fortamps were guaranteed Podium places. Last out was the new World Shortboard Champion, Aliaksei Zharnasek BLR. He stunned the cheering Grandstand spectators with a flawless performance and a score of 11470 points. This really did make it a perfect year for Zharnasek.
With the hot afternoon sunshine illuminating the Maybank Jump Ramp, the hundreds of photographers moved even closer to the water’s edge. All expected to be thrilled and none were disappointed ! The only surprise in the Jump Preliminaries was for Jaret Llewellyn CAN. His distance of 58.1m was not enough to make it through. In the Women’s Finals, Denmark’s June Fladborg was first in to the arena. Having already taken both Australia’s Moomba Masters and US Masters titles this year, she desperately wanted to finish on a World Cup high. Her opening score of 48.3m immediately set a new Course Record ! World Overall Cable Jump Champion, Iryna Turets BLR, got close with 45.5m. Now it was all down to Marion Mathieu FRA who came second behind Fladborg in the Moomba Masters. With a distance of 48.1m, she was also second to Fladborg again in Putrajaya. This was a perfect World Cup conclusion for June Fladborg. In the Men’s event, Scot Ellis USA set the pace with a distance of 59.8m. Thomas Asher GBR pushed the lead up to 63.2m. Jason Seels got very close with 62.2m. As soon as the name Freddy Krueger USA was announced, the stampede of photographers to the water’s edge was a sight to behold. Krueger did not hold back on his very first jump. In fact, it was about as close to the limit as is possible. He really did want to retain this Putrajaya World Cup title and his distance of 69.0m got a standing ovation from every single person in the huge Putrajaya Grandstand. With a new Course Record and a new World Cup Series Record, the World Record holder Krueger added yet another title to his extraordinary collection of awards.
The Putrajaya Watersports Complex was the perfect venue for the final Stop of the 2009 World Cup season. This exotic Tropical location has everything with first class spectator, media, catering, accommodation and management facilities. The level of commitment from Putrajaya Corporation, the Malaysian Waterski Federation (MWSF) and the multiple sponsors is impressive. No doubt the new waterski and wakeboard youth development programme of the MWSF will ensure that Malaysian athletes will also hit the headlines in the years ahead.
SLALOM WINNERS – Women
1. (USA) Karen Truelove – 0.5 buoys at 11.25m
2. (FRA) Anais Amade – 5 buoys at 12m
3. (FRA) Clementine Lucine – 2 buoys at 12m
SLALOM WINNERS – Men
1. (USA) Nick Parsons – 2.5 buoys at 10.75m
2. (GBR) Jodi Fisher – 1 buoy at 10.75m
3. (FRA) Jean Baptiste Faisy – 4 buoys at 11.25m
SHORTBOARD WINNERS – Women
1. (FRA) Marion Aynaud – 8130 points
2. (BLR) Natalia Berdnikova – 7930 points
3. (USA) Mandy Nightingale – 7790 points
SHORTBAORD WINNERS – Men
1. (BLR) Aliaksei Zharnasek – 11,470 points
2. (BEL) Olivier Fortamps – 9890 points
3. (USA) Jimmy Siemers – 9700 points
JUMP WINNERS – Women
1. (DEN) June Fladborg – 48.3m
2. (FRA) Marion Mathieu – 48.1m
3. (BLR) Iryna Turets – 46.5m
JUMP WINNERS – Men
1. (USA) Freddy Krueger – 69.0m
2. (GBR) Thomas Asher – 63.2m
3. (GBR) Jason Seels – 62.2m
CONTACT : Des Burke-Kennedy, Media Chairman, International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation.