In glorious sunshine, the City of Mandurah in Western Australia, with its 19 local beaches and resident dolphins and pelicans, welcomed IWWF World Cup Wakeboard and Waterski Jump athletes from 24 countries to the crystal clear waters of Mandjar Bay this weekend.
Mandurah Mayor Marina Vergone declared that these Action Sports Games are now Australias largest and most successful such event. In addition to BMX, Scooter, Skate and Freestyle Moto X, this 39th Waterski & Wakeboard World Cup Stop was one of the most spectacular to date. The Channel 7 Crab Fest was also part of the Action Sports Games. National Channel 7 celebrity Mark Beretta enjoyed the warm sunshine after his recent Sochi Winter Olympics assignment. MasterCraft provided the World Cup boats and support services.
Waterski Jump had the spectators lining the packed beaches cheering for their favourites during the Saturday Qualification Round. With eight of the Worlds top women Jumpers chasing just four Finals places, crashes and disappointments were unavoidable. However, as ever, the best rose to the top. The coveted Finals line-up included World Jump Champion Jacinta Carroll (AUS), World Record Holder Natallia Berdnikova (BLR), 2012 World University Champion Lauren Morgan (USA), and 2013 Moomba Masters Champion Jutta Lammi (FIN).
Morgan set the pace with a distance of 46.5m. This was quickly pushed to 47.5m by Lammi. On her first Jump, Berdnikava then got a roar of approval from the huge crowds. Her distance was 50.2m. This just left Australia's own World Champion Jacinta Carroll to go for the title. She struggled on her first two attempts with 47.0m and 43.5m. Could she do the impossible on her final attempt The spectators then raised the roof as their own World Champion Scored 51.1m on her final effort. A perfect and very popular finish for the home crowd.
The Mens Jump Qualification Round was also dramatic. Twelve athletes chased six Finals places. Deciding to pass on one or more Jump attempts were Felipe Miranda (CHI), Damien Sharman (GBR) and Freddy Krueger (USA). Thomas Asher (GBR) crashed in the early stages and had to withdraw. Making it through to the Finals were four-time World Cup Gold Medalist Jimmy Siemers (USA), past U21 World Jump Champion Zack Worden (USA), Russias National Jump Record Holder Igor Morozov, Europe-Africa Jump Champion Bojan Schipner (GER), World Games Jump Champion Damien Sharman (GBR) and World Jump Record Holder Freddy Krueger (USA).
Siemers, Sharman and Worden kicked off the Jump Finals with distances of 58.2m, 60.5m and 61.3m. Water conditions had improved. The light head wind was an extra bonus. Packed beaches created the perfect atmosphere. In scorching sunshine, Schipners 65.3m on his opening Jump earned him an ovation. Morozov followed with a very solid 65.0m. All now knew that this Final was going to be one to remember. As in the Womens Final, a World Jump Champion was the last to enter the World Cup arena! Freddy Krueger, as the World Record holder has been through this many times. Now his biggest test had arrived. His first attempt was 54.2m. Was this a rare off-day for the World Champion His second attempt at 58.4m also looked worrying. You could hear a pin drop around Mandjar Bay. However, his final attempt was just sensational. As a distance 65.9m was announced, he had captured the title of Mandurah World Cup Champion by less than a meter. That was all that was required. Another perfect finish.
Womens Wakeboard went through the same process, kicking off with 12 Pro Women representing seven Nations chasing just six Finals places. Eventually, it was the following who made it through Nicola Butler (GBR), Caroline Djupsjo (SWE), Melissa Marquardt (USA), Amber Wing (AUS), defending Champion Bec Gange (AUS) and IWWF World Champion Raimi Merritt (USA). Each was also granted a Wild Card Bonus Trick to add to the excitement.
Butler used her Wild Card Bonus Trick to insert a Whirley Bird to her run making a huge impact with a high opening score of 60.1. Djupsjo followed by adding a Toe Side 540 to give her a score of 55.3. Marquardt, Wing and Gange were unable to better this. It was then all down to the IWWF World Champion Raimi Merritt. Although it was a very close call, she took the title in style with a narrow margin of 2.2 points over Butler, with Djupsjo taking the World Cup bronze medal.
Mens Wakeboard was the climax of the afternoon at Mandurahs Action Sports Games. Twenty Riders from 14 countries were reduced to six Finalists. An earlier injury to Trevor Hansen (USA) forced his retirement. The Finalists included Brad Teunissen (AUS), David OCaoimh (IRL), Cory Teunissen (AUS), Tony Iacconi (AUS), Shota Tezuka (JPN) and Harley Clifford (AUS).
Australias 19 year-old Brad Teunissen caught all by surprise. His opening score of 62.0 set a very high standard. Irelands OCaoimh followed but with two falls, the rules prevented him from including the Bonus trick. Cory Teunissen was at his very best. His score of 86.3 looked like the gold medal perfermance. Iacconi, having survived the LCQ, got very close with 81.0. Japans super-star Tezuka, the 2013 runner-up, now had his chance to take gold. His Toeside 900 was a show stopper. However, an uncharacteristic final phase could only produce a score of 71.4m. As in so many recent World Cup Finals, World Champion and defending Mandurah World Cup title holder Harley Clifford was last on the water. Expert comments later stated that a perfect score of 100 was earned! He was flawless. His official score of 90.0 said it all. For the very first time, this made it a total clean-sweep by Australian Riders with Clifford taking Gold, Cory Teunissen Silver and Iacconi Bronze.
Action Sports Games Mandurah, supported by the Western Australia State Government through Eventscorps Regional Events Programme, were funded by Royalties for Regions. The City of Mandurah sees the Games as a perfect match for their outstanding Mandjar Bay area in conjunction with the highly successful annual Channel 7 Crab Fest.
To view the complete World Cup results: http://www.mastercraftworldcup.com/