This was the second Stop of the 2006 Waterski & Wakeboard World Cup series organized by the International Waterski Federation. Seven Stops around the world are involved with a total cash prize fund of US$780,000. This was a Wakeboard Stop.
In 29C sunshine beneath the Casino Barriere, the World Cup Qualifying Heats got off to a perfect start. The 15,000 spectators on site for the opening day on Saturday enjoyed the calm conditions. Enghiens-les-Bains’ thermal lake produced some high class performances. Athletes totaled 29 from 12 countries.
In the Ladies event, Meagan Major (USA) pulled off a Tantrum to Blind maneuver, rarely seen in competition, to secure her place in Sunday’s final four. Others to succeed in getting through were the 2005 World Champion Andrea Fountain (NZL), Sunni Ann Ball (CAN) and Emily Copeland (USA).
In the Mens Heats, Danny Harf (USA) looked to be in predictable winning form as he lined up to meet Brett Eisenhaur (AUS) in the Head-to-Head Finals. The others to make it into the final eight were Phillip Soven and Chad Sharp (CAN), Rusty Malinoski (CAN) and Morgan Krause (RSA), plus Andrew Adkison (USA) and Jeff Weatherall (NZL). One of the largest Fireworks displays seen for many years , visible from the Eiffel Tower, and a Jazz festival on Saturday night, added greatly to the party atmosphere.
The Sunday Finals again had great conditions in 30C sunshine and perfect calm water. The very enthusiastic spectators poured in throughout the day and eventually exceeded 22,000, one of the largest seen at this Stop so far. With four Pro Women Finalists, Meaghan Major (USA) had a confidence edge from her outstanding Saturday performance. In the Finals her overall performance was the cleanest of all, guaranteeing her this World Cup Stop title. World Champion Andrea Fountain (NZL) continued her run of success with the silver medal position. Many were surprised to see Canada’s Sunni Anne Ball beat the USA super star Emily Copeland Durham for third place.
The Mens Finals were a Head-to-Head battle between the top 8 Riders.The USA, Canada, Republic of South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia all made it this far. Here we had both spectacular performances and major surprises. Hot favourite Danny Harf (USA), performed a perfect 540 degree Moby Dick maneuver but this was not enough to get into the last two head-to-head places. Reigning World Champion, Jeff Weatherall (NZL) did succeed by beating Andrew Adkison (USA) and his final battle for the World Cup title was with the young sensation Phillip Soven (USA) who had just beaten Chad Sharpe (CAN). Soven had a disaster in Qatar a few weeks ago and had a point to prove. He also fractured his wrist in the meantime. Against all odds, he wowed the cheering crowds with a stunning performance to take this well deserved World Cup Stop title, pushing Weatherall into second place. Danny Harf (USA), the World Cup Qatar Stop champion had to be content with third place today.
As the red sun set over Enghiens-les-Bains, the MasterCraft boat pulled the French World Shortboard Record holder, Nicolas LeForestier, into the arena for a magnificent display of his skills – and the last cheer of the day. The Federation Francaise de Ski Nautique were highly encouraged by the record attendances as was the City Mayor, Phillippe Sueur.
WAKEBOARD WINNERS – Pro Women
1. Meaghan Major (USA)
2. Andrea Fountain (NZL)
3. Sunni Anne Ball (CAN)
4. Emily Copeland Durham (USA)
WAKEBOARD WINNERS – Pro Men
1. Phillip Soven (USA)
2. Jeff Weatherall (NZL)
3. Danny Harf (USA)
4. Andrew Adkison (USA)
The next Stop of the Waterski & Wakeboard World Cup series will take place at the Foban Emin Water Ski Club in Beijing, China, on June 24/25. DVD’s of the World Cup Stops are available at http://www.iwsftournament.com/wordpress/ (click on World Cup DVD Shop).