World record holder Chris Parrish earned his first U.S. Open victory and World Champion Regina Jaquess won her third straight slalom event Sunday during the final round of the U.S. Open Water Ski Championships at Walt Disney World Resorts in Orlando, Florida.
Fresh of his World Championship win, Great Britain's Will Asher set the pace in the men's slalom final, running 2 1/2 at 39 1/2 off. But after Jeff Rodgers failed to pass Asher, it was clear that the U.S. Open final would be determined by another showdown between Chris Parrish and Jamie Beauchesne.
After easily skiing 35 off and 38 off, Beauchesne fell as he rounded three ball at 39 1/2 off. The slip, however, provided the weekend's most spectacular highlight because Beauchesne managed to hold onto the handle and after being dragged through the water for several feet, he popped back up in time to cross the wake. His score of 3 at 39 1/2 off put him in first place with only Parrish left to ski.
But Parrish was too strong. He easily skied 35 off, 38 off and 39 1/2 off to clinch the victory. As he rounded four ball at 39 1/2, cheers erupted from the crowd assembled along the shoreline.
“The crowd went ballistic – I've never heard the crowd that loud,” Parrish said. “It gave me chill bumps out there.”
Parrish's next pass amounted to a victory lap, and he pumped his fists to the cheering crowd as the MasterCraft towboat brought him into the course for his 41 off pass. He didn't disappoint, running 2 at 41 off – the best score of the weekend.
On the first run of the finals, fourth seed Regina Jaquess put the pressure on Natalie Hamrick, Karen Truelove and Michele Simpson when she ran 1.5 at 39 1/2 off – the best women's score of the weekend. The score was also by far Jaquess' best result of the tournament. She had run just 2 at 35 off in the preliminaries and 3 at 35 off in the semifinals.
“Both of the previous rounds I was struggling through 35, so while I was on the dock before the finals, I figured it would take at least 38 to win because both Karen and Michelle had run 38 in the semifinals,” Jaquess said.
But none of the other women even came close. Natalie Hamrick ran just 3 at 35 off and was visibly disappointed as she tossed her handle to the side and sank into the water after missing four ball. Second seed Karen Truelove fell rounding two ball at 35 off after running 1 at 38 off in the semifinal round.
Michelle Simpson, who had skied well all weekend and earned the top seed in the final with a semifinal run of 2 at 38 off, never made it out of her first finals pass, falling as she rounded three ball at 32 off. She requested a rerun because of rough conditions, but it was denied.
The win was Jaquess' third slalom victory in row, after winning the World Championships in August and the SkyView Open a few weeks later. She also placed second at the Malibu Open in June.
“I don't know what's happened, but I don't want it to stop,” Jaquess said. “I've been training all summer, working really hard, and I think I'm just peaking right now.”
After twice finishing behind Jaret Llewellyn at the World Cup stop in Dubna, Russia, and at the World Championships, Freddy Krueger returned to the top of the men's jump podium with a tournament-best jump of 222 feet. Llewellyn, who has battled closely with Krueger for much of the year, finished second with a jump of 219 feet. Jimmy Siemers, who was the first to jump in the finals, held on for third place with a jump of 213 feet, despite crashing on his final jump and injuring his knee.
June Fladborg returned to form after a disappointing second-place finish at the World Championships, winning the women's jump final with a leap of 164 feet. Fladborg needed just two jumps to surpass Andeliki Andriopoulou, who finished second with a 162-foot leap. Natallia Berdnikava finished a distant third with a jump of 155 feet.
1. Chris Parrish 2 @ 41
2. Jamie Beauchesne 3 @ 39
3. Will Asher 2.5 @ 39
1. Regina Jaquess 1.5 @ 39
2. Natalie Hamrick 3 @ 35
3. Karen Truelove 1.5 @ 35
1. Freddy Krueger 222 feet
2. Jaret Llewellyn 219 feet
3. Jimmy Siemers 213 feet
1. June Fladborg 164 feet
2. Andeliki Andriopoulou 162 feet
3. Natalie Berdinikava 155 feet
1. Aliaksei Zharnasek 11,560
2. Jimmy Siemers 10,750
3. Cory Pickos 10,510
1. Mandy Nightingale 8,548
2. Regina Jaquess 7,830
3. Whitney McClintock 7,100