Four days of very competitive Preliminary Rounds, glorious sunshine, live TV coverage with 20 cameras on site and first class facilities, all set a perfect stage for the 2005 Finals of the Vanke Waterski World Championships at Dongli Lake in Tianjin, China. The DongLi Lake Spa Resort location is a two-hour drive south east of Beijing.
The highly impressive night time Opening Ceremony set the tone for the entire Championships. The Beijing Opera performers, Chinese traditional music portraying the Tang Dynasty, Fireworks, Lighting Displays, Water Ballet, Dragons, Drums and Show Skiing, were a sign of the standards anticipated. None were disappointed by what followed.
The bi-annual IWSF World Championships attracted 144 Skiers from 28 countries. The attendance included Mr. Wei Di, Director of the Watersports Administration Centre of General Administration of Sport, and Mr. Kuno Ritschard, President of the International Waterski Federation. The daily live television coverage audience was approximately 800 million viewers. CorrectCraft supplied all the Nautique competition boats.
In Slalom, two new World Champions were crowned. The Men's Slalom event was full of drama. World Record breakers, Chris Parrish (USA) and Jamie Beauchesne (USA), surprised all by failing to get to the 4.5 buoys on the short 10.75m rope length to qualify for the Finals. Then the reigning World Slalom Champion, Jeff Rodgers (USA) was beaten into third place by the two young British athletes, Glenn Campbell and William Asher. Both tied with a score of 3.0 buoys on the 10.25m line forcing a run-off to decide the winner. The 23 year old Asher, who took the Slalom Silver Medal in the 2003 World Championships, got his revenge this time
by taking the Gold Medal on DongLi Lake. The Women's Slalom event was equally thrilling. Reigning World Champion Emma Sheers (AUS) could not compete following recent knee surgery. It took a score of 2 buoys on the 11.25m rope to qualify for the Finals. Britain's Sarah Green pipped hot favorite Karen Truelove (USA) into 3rd place. The 21 year old from Atlanta, Georgia, Regina Jaquess (USA), was in a class of her own. Having captured the title of World Trick Champion at just 16 years of age and World Overall Champion at 19 years of age, she now added the title of World Slalom Champion to her exceptional achievements list of 59 international medals achieved to date.
In Tricks, once again the best rose to the top. Nicolas LeForestier (FRA) had a performance to forget in the last World Championships in the USA. This time out, his Gold Medal performance in China was flawless with a Course Record and a World Championships best performance of 11,860 points. Behind him in the Silver and Bronze positions were Aliaksei Zharnasek (BLR) and Javier Julio (ARG). In the Women's Tricks event, the reigning World Champion was again unbeatable. The Texan athlete Mandy Nightingale (USA) successfully defended her World Tricks Champion title with a score of 7490 points. Greek athlete and Silver Medalist Ageliki Andriououlou beat the 16-year-old sensation Michale Briant (AUS) into third place.
In Jump, a light wind played a sporadic role. At times it was blowing in the wrong direction for the athletes. All coped well in the 32C sunshine and blue skies. Again, the loss of the reigning World Champion, Emma Sheers (AUS), made the Women's outcome totally unpredictable. The hot favorite, Denmark's June Fladborg, came out best from the Preliminary Round. Her Final's score of 51.2m would even have given her the Gold Medal in the last World Championships. This time around, it earned her the Silver Medal. British Jumper, Jakalyn Hunter was thrilled to secure the Bronze Medal. However, the Business Graduate from Athens, Greece, Ageliki Andriopoulou, added the title of World Jump Champion to her new Silver Medal in Tricks making this a World Championships to remember. Her distance was 52.4m. She was also the first Greek athlete ever to take this Jump title. The Mens Jump event was also a thriller. Jimmy Siemers (USA) demolished a ski fin with a dangerously late cut to the Jump Ramp and a distance of 65m. However, it was always going to be a battle between Canada's Jaret Llewellyn and the reigning World Champion, Freddy Krueger (USA). Krueger has had the better innings in this past year but Llewellyn took the recent World Cup title in Russia. Both set new Course Records here in the Preliminary Round. Krueger came out on top then with a distance of 68.7m. The scene was set for a classic duel in Tian in, China, for the World Jump title. Jaret Llewellyn now clocked up a score of 69.1m on the Finals scoreboard before Freddy Krueger took to the water. This was close enough to a World Record to totally enthrall the cheering spectators. An unpredictable gusty hot breeze prevailed. The best that Krueger could manage was 66.4m for the Silver Medal position – 2.7m short of Lewellyn. Britain's Jason Seels was just 0.1m behind Krueger to take the Bronze Medal. Jaret Llewellyn was the new 2005 World Jump Champion, having been 4th in the last World Championships.
The Overall contest is the Triathlon of Waterskiing. The top four qualifying athletes from the Preliminary Round fight a stand-alone battle for the Overall title – a totally self contained competition. In the Women's event, Regina Jaquess (USA), proved impossible to beat with outstanding performances in both Slalom and Tricks. The World Champion retained her title. In the Mens event, by dominating Tricks and scoring strongly in Jump, Jimmy Siemers (USA) also proved impossible to beat. The reigning World Champion also retained his title.
USA Team Manager, Frank Harrison, smiled confidently as USA Skiers took the highest Team scores in Slalom, Tricks and Jump. This guaranteed the Team Gold Medal for the USA. France came 5th in the last World Championships – but secured the Silver Medal position this time in China with a great Tricks performance. Great Britain held on to their 3rd place from the previous World Championships with high points in both Slalom and Jump.
The exceptional site facilities, the first class organization, the combined efforts of Tianjin City, DongLi Lake Zone and the Chinese Waterski Association, all combined to make the Vanke Waterski World Championships one of the best ever staged with the International Waterski Federation. Having the 2008 Olympic Games on the horizon, China has every good reason to be confident for a great deal of sporting success in the future.
Contact: Des Burke-Kennedy, Media Chairman, International Waterski Federation