AKITA – Friday’s (9 September) action packed programme at the FISU World University Waterski Championships was devoted to the last Preliminary Rounds of Slalom and Jump for both men and women. Kicking off at 7:00 am on Lake Hachiro, conditions were perfect on arrival with flat water and no wind.
The Ladies Slalom Preliminary round included 25 high quality skiers from 13 countries. Two super stars, European Under-21 Slalom Champion Chiara Bonneman (GER) and Taryn Grant (CAN), World Under-21 Slalom Champion, both caused a sensation by falling early in their efforts to qualify for the Finals. However, Chiara Bonnemann’s sister Giannina, World Overall Under-21 Champion, compensated by making it through. Ambre Franc, ranked number six in the world, put in a perfect performance to come out on top with a score of 3 buoys on the short 11.25 metre line. She is now the hot favorite for Saturday’s gold medal.
The Men’s Jump Preliminary round also had surprises. When some wind and rain arrived mid-morning, Jun Shimura (JPN) and Thomas Poole (GBR) had spectacular crashes on the Ramp. Luckily neither suffered any injury. With 23 jumpers chasing just 12 Finals places, there was also real drama when Oscar Bishofberger (FRA) and Connor McCracken (NZL) tied for the last available Final’s place. Forced in to a run-off, it was eventually Bishofberger who made it through. However, it was Martin Kolman (CZE), Overall silver medalist in the IWWF Open World Championships in Mexico last year who was the star of the day with the longest distance of 56.7 metres.
As the weather improved, the Women’s Jump Preliminary round was more predictable. With no crashes on the ramp, all the Series 1 jumpers qualified for the Final with Lauren Morgan from the USA posting the longest jump of the day, 48.1 metres. It was also great to see three of the Series 2 jumpers make it through. One of these, Illana Bishofberger (FRA), had already seen her brother win the run-off in the Men’s event to gain his Finals place. Her distance of 34.9 metres will make it a perfect weekend for this French family! This was also their first visit to Japan and it will certainly be a FISU experience never to be forgotten by them.
Considering the enormous commitment all these student contestants must make to their Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate degrees, the standard shown in all of the Prelims was truly impressive considering the amount of training needed to deliver the scores witnessed today. On Monday, all will return to their Universities to a very different life.
(Source: WUC Waterski OC/IWWF)
You can find the live scores here.