This was the 37th World Cup Stop in the series of the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF). Hot on the heels of last month's World Cup Stop in Mandurah, Western Australia, it was another thriller. Young new rising stars and a host of seasoned winners were cheered till sunset at this exotic location situated almost on the Equator. It was certainly a hot one!
The events involved were Wakeboard, Jump and Shortboard.
In Wakeboard, now under consideration for the 2020 Olympic Games, the two biggest international stars wowed the thousands of spectators once again. Eighteen-year-old Harley Clifford (AUS) has a global fan base. He added thousands more here in Indonesia. He has already taken two major titles this year – gold medal at Melbourne's Moomba Masters and gold medal again at the World Cup Stop in Mandurah Western Australia. While Japan's Shota Tezuka dominated the field with a score of 81.02, as the last into the arena, Clifford responded with a perfect 93.33. That is domination at it's best. Andrew Adkison (USA) took third place.
Secondly, Raimi Merrit (USA), was on a mission. As the current Wakeboard World and World Cup champion, she suffered a recent defeat to Australia's Bec Gange at the previous World Cup Stop. However, aided by a new training regime, she was flawless and her score of 70.24 was enough to beat both Gange and Nicola Butler (GBR) who also joined her on the Palembang Podium.
In Women's Shortboard, weather intervened. The otherwise excellent 33C / 96Fh conditions suddenly turned to a brief tropical storm at a point where World Record Holder Clementine Lucine (FRA) had the lead with 8,840 points. Just as the seventeen-year-old sensation, Erika Lang from Arizona (USA), was about to enter the water, we all dived for cover. The storm passed but Lang was certainly knocked off her stride and never really settled when she finally got to compete. Sadly, she missed a podium place this time but Lucine was thrilled to be back in winning form once again. Iris Cambray (FRA) and Alex Lauretano (USA) took second and third places.
Men's Shortboard managed to miss that weather front. Three athletes scored over the rare 10,000 point mark. Herman Beliakou (BLR) actually beat the current world record holder Aliaksei Zharnasek from the same country at the recent Mandurah World Cup Stop. Zharnasek got his revenge in Palembang with one of the best performances we have seen for some time. His score of 11,270 points was one thousand ahead of Beliakou on this occasion. Adam Sedlmajer (CZE) took third with another superb run of 10,140 points.
Finally, as the spectators packed the entire purpose-built waterski lake in the Jakabaring Sports Complex, it was time for the Jump discipline. This extreme sport never fails to capture the imagination of fans around the world. In the Women's event, a cross wind made it challenging for the less experienced. Finland's Jutta Lammi landed an impressive 47.0m early on to take the lead. Australia's super star Jacinta Carroll quickly responded with a distance of 48.9m. This just left Florida based Marion Mathieu (FRA), who was one of the most consistent Jumpers. Her distance 47.4m however was only enough for second place and gold went instead to twenty-year-old Jacinta Carroll.
The Men's Jump event was the last of the day. Conditions on the water had improved steadily. Britain's Damien Sharman scored a distance of 60.5m as the first of six Finalists to compete. Only the last two competitors could actually better this. Germany's Bojan Schipner, in his very first World Cup Final, scored 59.7m to reach second best at that moment. The world record holder and world champion, Freddy Krueger (USA), then entered the arena to huge applause. His reputation of being almost unbeatable had already reached Indonesia! When he landed a winning score of 64.1m and waved to the huge crowd, it was a perfect ending to one of the most enjoyable World Cup stops to date.
At the formal Closing Ceremony on site, following a spectacular display of traditional dancing and music, as the fireworks show concluded, the Governor of South Sumatra, Alex Noerdin, declared that he would like to see the World Cup series return for many years to come. The athletes from twenty-five countries and World Cup team certainly welcomed this as the site was constructed for the Southeast Asian Games and the facilities are Olympic class. Palembang may now well be viewed as Indonesia's watersports centre.
1. Raimi Merritt USA
2. Nicola Butler GBR
3. Bec Gange AUS
1. Harley Clifford AUS
2. Shota Tezuka JPN
3. Andrew Adkison USA
1. Clementine Lucine FRA
2. Iris Cambray FRA
3. Alex Lauretano USA
1. Aliaksei Zharnasek BLR
2. Herman Beliakou BLR
3. Adam Sedlmajer CZE
1. Jacinta Carroll AUS
2. Marion Mathieu FRA
3. Jutta Lammi FIN
1. Freddy Krueger USA
2. Damien Sharman GBR
3. Bojan Schipner GER
IWWF WORLD CUP
INTERNATIONAL WATERSKI & WAKEBOARD FEDERATION
CONTACT : Des Burke-Kennedy, Media Chairman, International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation