Everyone loves some fresh new faces. The World Water Ski Championships in San Bernardo, Chile, this past weekend brought in some new and excited skiers to the top of the skiing world. Among them are the big German boy Bojan Schipner; Freddie Winter, Great Britain’s new slalom star; 12-year-old Neilly Ross, the youngest skier to make finals and win a team medal for Canada; and last but not least, the 6-foot-5-inch Stephen Neveu, who also contributed in Team Canada’s silver medal. Check out what these new jump, slalom, and trick stars have to say about their first Worlds (besides Bojan, who also competed at the 2011 Worlds in Russia) and their goals:
Bojan Schipner [Germany] finishes third with a 220-foot (67 m) jump behind Ryan Dodd, who jumped 225 feet (68.5 m), and Freddy Krueger, who jumped 226 feet (69 m).
Going into your second Worlds, what were your expectations?
Hard to say what my expectations were. Of course, everybody thinks about getting a medal there, and so was I. I really worked hard for it the last weeks and months, and in the end, it all fit together.
How did you prepare for Worlds?
The preparation was different than for a normal competition. I really tried to put all the elements together and was working hard in the gym. Eating differently and really trying to get it right, down to the point.
Who has been your inspiration and motivation — on and off of the water — along the way?
The motivation I got was that everybody believed in me. I was training with the greatest team anyway, so that made it really easy for me to push my limits and experience new achievements.
You finished right behind the top two jumpers in the world. Describe your feelings after you found out you finished third?
Well after I found out that I was third, I couldn’t really believe it. I was beyond happy, and actually realizing it took a while. I guess after being in the plane home and looking at the medal again, I realized what had happened.
What are your goals going into 2014?
My goals for 2014 are the same as always: do my best and work hard for it!
Freddie Winter [Great Britain] gets the bronze medal with a score of 3 at 41 off (10.25 m) after winning a runoff against Canadian youngster Stephen Neveu.
A third-place finish at your first Worlds finishing just behind Nate Smith and Will Asher. Describe your feelings?
My initial feeling was relief after watching eight or so skiers go out after I set the top score and nearly missing out on a medal thanks to the runoff. I couldn’t sit down to watch it I was so nervous. With the start I had at 10.75 m [39 off] in the runoff, it could have gone very differently. After that, I was over the moon! It was an exciting final with half a buoy in it from first to fourth, so very tight at the top. On reflection, to lose the silver on count-back was disappointing, but Nate and Will are consistently the two best skiers in the world, so it’s no disgrace. Plus, I had a pretty exciting runoff for the bronze against Stephen Neveu, who skied awesome, which added an extra element. The whole thing was not good on my nerves.
What did you expect going into Worlds?
I thought a medal was definitely a possibility given my skiing this year. I was skiing nicely at Jodi Fishers place in Orlando, [Florida], in the run up, but I knew I’d have to be on form. To ski against all of the world’s best at one time is pretty special to me, and I knew the standard would be high. When I actually got to Santiago, I did my best not to get overawed by it. A lot of effort went into even qualifying for the event last year, which not so long ago wasn’t really in the cards. My whole season was planned with one eye on the big one at the end, but I tried not to put too much pressure on myself. This being my first Worlds, I didn’t have any experience to fall back on, but I feel I kept it together pretty well.
What’s the best/ most appreciated compliment you got from someone this week at Worlds?
A lot of nice stuff from back home where everyone’s been very supportive and also from my fellow skiers. It feels good when your coaches say they’re proud of you and to hear that from Dimitri Kourounis, my oldest and the ultimate perfectionist coach in Porto Heli, Greece, who I’ve known and skied with all my life — that was the highlight. He still calls me “Little English Boy” from about 10 years ago.
Looking back on your 2013 season, what experiences are you taking with you?
I’ve gained a lot of experience skiing against the best in the world this year. I now feel I can stand on the dock with all those guys and not be intimidated, where I might have been a couple of years ago. It’s been great to step up to the Open category and ski well. In terms of best experience, the trip I did over two weeks in September, which covered my silver at the Euros in Greece, a PB at Goode Lake in Utah, and then Diablo Shores, takes some beating, but obviously, the Worlds was the highlight
Your breakout year was huge and you finished strong. What are your plans for the 2014 season?
More buoys and more wins. I’m not resting on my laurels. Ideally, I’d finish the job I just missed out on this year and win the Euros in the Czech Republic next August and have some success at pro tournaments around the world. I still feel I can put some buoys on my PB. A few tweaks here and there and anything’s possible.