The host city of Dubna in Russia has every reason to feel very proud today. The response of the contestants and supporters from 37 countries to their outstanding efforts over the past six years to prepare for this week's 2011 World Waterski Championships has been very warm indeed. Even the weather has been perfect ! The combination of an outstanding Opening Ceremony on the Volga River, a very well organised International Hall of Fame Ceremony at the Cultural Centre, the well attended IWWF World Congress at the International Conference Hall and the superb facilities at the Watersports Stadium, have combined to make this one of the best World Waterski Championships of the International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) to date. Mayor Valery Prokh and his team have set a very high standard for future World Waterski Championships.
The last stages of the qualifying series of these World Championships are almost complete. Only Men's Tricks have yet to be concluded before the Finals commence on Saturday and Sunday. At this stage, of the 37 countries represented, the top performances have come from France, USA, Belarus, New Zealand and Canada.
In Slalom, Regina Jaquess USA and Aaron Larkin NZL have posted the best scores so far behind the MasterCraft World Championships boat. They must now enter the Finals with high hopes of taking home the coveted title of World Champion from Dubna. With over 30 million participants in this sport, the title is not won easily. In Jump, Natalia Berdnikava BLR and Jaret Llewellyn CAN have also come out on top at this stage. While Berdnikava has been both extraordinary and consistent over the past year, Llewellyn deserves enormous credit. On returning from injury, he has posted a qualifying score higher than the current World Champion and World Record holder, Freddy Krueger USA. In Tricks, 18 year-old Iris Cambray FRA has outperformed the two recent World Record breakers, Natalia Berdnikava BLR and Clementine Lucine FRA. Her score of 9240 points is actually just 350 short of the latest pending World Record of Clementine Lucine FRA. In terms of Team scores, France also looks very strong at the moment as their competitors have all lived up to expectations so far without any unwelcome surprises along the way.
All of this is certain to create a fascinating weekend of Finals for the sport of Waterskiing here in Russia. While the temperatures of 30C / 90Fh are set to continue, some predicted thunder storm activity may pose a challenge - a normal test for outdoor sports! Certainly, it will not deter the 30,000 spectators who have booked their Stadium seats. Judging by the enormous enthusiastic crowds at the Dubna preliminary stages, the atmosphere will without a doubt have a very positive impact on the athletes who have travelled from far and near for these 2011 IWWF World Waterski Championships.