This was the 28th Stop of the Waterski & Wakeboard World Cup series of the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF). It was staged for the first time in this South West Monsoon region of China - a major car manufacturing and attractive tourist area. The pristine clean downtown River Liu was the venue. Live TV coverage distributed to 800 million viewers was provided by 20 TV Stations in China's CCTV network. The World Cup's own TV production team will distribute the edited TV Show and News Edit to an additional 500 million viewers over the coming week.
This was no ordinary experience. Few World Cup Stops to date have provided with such an array of high quality features. There were even two wedding ceremonies on site on two X-Star MasterCraft boats - the official World Cup boat sponsors !? Sound-systems, TV, Photography and Press coverage were all outstanding. Two Press Conferences attracted up to 48 journalists from as far away as Beijing,? Watersports Administration of China, the Chinese Waterski Association, Liuzhou Sports Council and Liuzhou Municipal Government, all did an outstanding job in making this an attractive experience. The Opening Ceremony with its gigantic Water Fountain display and enormous Fireworks show were breathtaking. The main sponsors, SGMW motor manufacturers are major players in China's auto industry.
The Liu River site is downtown. This gave the World Cup event access to 500,000 spectators at the Opening Ceremony, As World Waterski Jump Champion Freddy Krueger USA stated at the Press Conference, those Skiers who adapted best to the local water conditions would win on the day - as the results clearly show. While the jump distances were lower than usual, the level of real competition was as high as ever. The large audience was clearly thrilled by the experience. In all, 50 of the top IWWF ranked athletes from 17 countries took part.
In 32C degree temperatures and sunny blue skies, the Women’s ?Jump event attracted athletes from five countries. Right from the start, Iryna Turets from Belarus set the pace in the Semi-Finals with a jump distance of 37.0m. Nobody could beat this. On entering the Finals, she actually looked set to take the Liuzhou City World Cup Jump title. In the end it was a very close battle between Turets, Denmark's June Fladborg and Natalia Berdnikova - also from Belarus. This time Berdnikova set the pace with a distance of 36.2m. Fladborg had to settle for 35.6m - and the best Turets could do was 36.0m. Natalia Berdnikova took this World Cup title by a margin of just 0.2m.
In Men's Jump the two hot favorites were Jaret Llewellyn CAN and World Champion and World Record Holder Freddy Krueger USA. Llewellyn failed to get out of the Semi-Finals leaving the door wide open for Krueger in the Finals. Russia's Igor Morozov set the pace from the start with a distance of 50.7m. Only Jason Seels GBR could beat this with 51.3m. Krueger was last out, knew what he had to do and got a standing ovation with a distance of 57.5m to take the Liuzhou City World Jump Cup title.
In Womens Wakeboard, the two who impressed most in the Semi-Finals were 16 year old Raimi Merritt USA and Australia's Amber Wing. Five-time USA National Wakeboard Champion Dallas Friday did not look in form but made it to the Finals. Friday then put in a very impressive performance in the Finals and looked unbeatable with a score of 60.69. However, the USA teenager, Raimi Merritt, again rose to the occasion and took the title with a score of 62.78.
Mens Wakeboard came last. Seventeen Riders in the Quarter Finals were narrowed down to four in the Finals. Australia's teenager Harley Clifford, completed a 720 degree rotation on the double-up maneuver to score 72.67 points. However, Phillip Soven USA had already got 75.44 points on the board and so Soven added yet another victory.?Rusty Malinoski USA rounded out the podium with a bronze finish.
JUMP WINNERS - Women
1. Natalia Berdnikova (BLR)
2. Iryna Turets (BLR)
3. June Fladborg (DEN)
JUMP WINNERS - Men
1. Freddy Krueger (USA)
2. Jason Seels (GBR)
3. Igor Morozov (RUS)
WAKEBOARD WINNERS - Women
1. Raimi Merritt (USA)
2. Dallas Friday (USA)
3. Amber Wing (AUS)
WAKEBOARD WINNERS - Men
1. Phillip Soven (USA)
2. Harley Clifford (AUS)
3. Rusty Malinoski (CAN)
MasterCraft is the official towboat sponsor for the 2009 World Cup.
To follow all the details of the Waterski and Wakeboard World Cup series, visit: Waterski and Wakeboard World Cup