Another day gone, another Australian record broken

It was an overcast start to (what was meant to be) the final day of preliminary rounds. Due to technical difficulties during the jump event the over 35 women slalom preliminary round, with Mel Collins, is moved to tomorrow (Saturday).

In the over 45 mens trick this morning Mark Louder stood up both his passes but unfortunately a few of his tricks were scrubbed by the judges, in the end scoring 1550. This put him only 300 points out of the finals and he ended up with 9th.

The over 35 mens jump had the Rocketman Scot Ellis as the top seed and he didn’t disappoint, launching 61.5 metres on the lower 1.65 metre ramp. This well and truly gave him 1st spot going into the finals.

Graham Ashcroft was coming off a shaky familiarisation before the tournament, where he took a bit of a crash (out the front). This didn’t worry him one bit as he broke Mark Louder’s Australian over 45 men jump record with a jump of 42.4 metres! This gave us our 3rd Aussie into the finals on the weekend and he sits in 6th spot.


The ever exciting over 35 mens slalom had three Australians in it with Martin Ayles first off the dock. The nerves did get to Ayles a bit and he took a fall around 3 buoy on his first pass. Darryl Shorten had better luck getting 2.5@16m, a great effort for his first international tournament. Australian record holder Peter Cornale ran 12m and got 2.5@11.25m. American Mike McCormick equalled this and it was looking like it was going to be a run off for the last spot in the finals. As the Australians all looked on anxiously it wasn’t to be as Scot Ellis snatched that last spot in the finals with 3@11.25m.


This is where things start to get interesting moving into the finals (with the exception of Mel Collins who skis her first round tomorrow). These +35 Worlds finals are new and uncharted territory for the Australians but I have no doubt they will not disappoint.

Mel Collins will be skiing her first round tomorrow morning (Sunday 1am AEDT) followed by Sue Crisp tricking in the over 55 women final. After lunch Mark Louder and Graham Ashcroft will be looking to improve on there records in the over 55 and over 45 mens jump respectively. Our last Aussie skiing in Saturday’s finals will be Sue Crisp slaloming in the over 55 women final.

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Mexico turns up the heat

The Australian team hopped off the bus this morning at the ski site while Bon Jovi’s ‘Bed of Roses’ played over the PA, in spanish of course. It was a big day for the Australians and it turned out to be a big day for delays. At one stage today there was a 30 minute hold up in the middle of the jump event while a protest and judges ruling was discussed. This pushed the schedule back and postponed some events, even though they finished skiing at 7:30pm with very limited light.

Sue Crisp was first off tricking this morning and her score of 970 was enough to give her a finals berth in the over 55 division. In the over 35s Marty Ayles picked up a 9th with a score of 980, while Darryl Shorten’s 2 ski pass and 1 ski pass gave him 740 points and a 10th place.

Most of the team indulged in some siestas midway through the day to charge the batteries for the big afternoon ahead. El Capitan Mark Louder blasted into the finals with a 39.9 metre jump in the over 55 division. Not only did this place him 3rd going into the finals but it was a new Australian record by 3 metres. He finally broke Waldie Priekulis’ 4 year old record! Unfortunately Louder is skiing against Austrian powerhouse Franz Oberleitner who jumped a new world record in this round, 48.8 metres off a 1.5m ramp and 51kph!

We then moved into the over 45 men slalom where a big crash at 10.75m by Brition Mike Munn saw him carted off in an ambulance. Water skiing legend Andy Mapple took the lead early in the piece with 1.5@10.25m, this was unchallenged. Greg Dalgarno came unstuck around the first buoy on his first pass, while Neil O’Toole also came off around 4 on his first pass. Lee Martin got into his 3rd pass and scored 4@16m and Graham Ashcroft topped it for the Aussies in the over 45s with 2.5@14.25m.

After day two we have 2 Aussies in 3 events in the finals on the weekend, pushing for some more finals berths tomorrow. Here is what to look out for:

Mark Louder will be tricking in the over 55s at 9:30am tomorrow morning, 1:30am Saturday AEDT. Graham Ashcroft will be looking to break Louder’s over 45 jump record (40.8m) after lunch tomorrow. Ayles, Shorten and Cornale will be sure to give over 35 slalom a shake up tomorrow afternoon. While our last skier of the day will be Mel Collins in the over 35 women slalom.


‘Jesse’ driving the team bus home after a big day of competition

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11 Aussies go to Mexico

Two years ago at the inaugural +35 World Water Ski Championships in Italy, Australia had a team of one (Mark Louder). This year eleven Australians have made the trip across the Pacific to Mexico and together they are the biggest Australian team ever to go to a World Championships.

Setting up for the day

I gathered Mexico doesn’t get too many Australian tourists after one of the staff of Boca Laguna (ski lake in Chapala) asked if a yellow/green/red flag was the Australian flag…it was the Lithuanian flag. After than slight misjudgement we let them know who we were chanting and singing during the opening ceremony march, even Maria Lamadrid (owner of Boca Laguna) joined in.

Carlos Lamadrid, (the owner of the site) who we already struck up a rapport with, commented on the Australian spirit and said we are a great bunch of people before he starting chanting “Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi” in his official opening speech.

“We will all enjoy many tequilas after the tournament.” – Carlos Lamadrid

Australian and Chief Boat Driver, Glen Martin, said the ‘ode to judges’ and that concluded the opening ceremony.

The Opening Ceremony +35 Worlds 2012

Earlier in the morning our first Australian on the water was Graham Ashcroft. He injured his groin in a jump crash during familiarisation earlier in the week so elected to do two hand passes. This gave him a score of 820 which put him in 15th place in over 45 men trick.

Sue Crisp was next in the afternoon and had the added pressure needing a good score for  the Australian Team overall. In a light tail wind she got 2.5@14.25m which put her in 4th place in over 55 women slalom. More importantly this puts her in the final which will be run on the weekend!

In the over 55 men slalom, Team Captain Mark Louder scored a respectable 0.5@14.25m putting him in =22nd and more importantly giving him a good overall score. Garry Underwood skied a personal best of 4.5@14.25m which placed him at 20th. The excitement didn’t stop there in the over 55 men slalom. Dee Johnson USA and Philip Hughes UK were fighting for one spot in the final after both scoring 3@12m. A run-off followed at 13m and with the crowd on their feet Johnson went first. He came into the first buoy a little off balance and laid-it-out, this obviously made it easier for Hughes and he skied 2 buoys to advance to the finals but it was an exciting end to the day none the less.

During the day ‘Jesse’ our boxing Kangaroo and team mascot was the subject of many photos from rival nations.

“All we got is Captain America, but you have a boxing kangaroo that’s way better!” – Anonymous US Team Member

Jesse the boxing kangaroo

‘Jesse’ – the most popular mascot down at the site

Tomorrow morning (Thursday – Mexican, early Friday morning AEDT) we have Sue Crisp tricking in the over 55 women, followed by Marty Ayles and Darryl Shorten tricking in the over 35 men. Later in the afternoon Mark Louder will be pushing for a finals berth in the over 55 men jump. The final event for the day and by far the biggest with 31 skiers will be the over 45 men slalom. Greg Dalgarno, Graham Ashcroft, Neil O’Toole and Lee Martin will be doing Australia proud in that.

Team Australia

For more updates keep checking out this blog or…

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Check out the webcast on or…

Check out the preview of the Australian Team

Or if you just want the full results you can find them here:

The Price of Gold

Do you think $588 million for seven gold medals at the London Olympics is money well spend? We also won sixteen silver and twelve bronze medals, so with the 35 medals Australia won that acquaints to just over $16.5 million a medal. The Australian Government have entrenched in their sport policies that the Olympics is the be-all and end-all in sport. This means non-Olympic sports are left out in the cold, with the exception of Cricket, Aussie Rules, Rugby League and Rugby Union who each have large television and sponsorship deals. One sport that is severely underfunded is water skiing.

There are 9 competitive sports under the branch of water skiing. These include:

  • Tournament Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Barefooting
  • Wakeskating
  • Ski Racing
  • Cable Tournament Water Skiing
  • Cable Wakeboarding
  • Kneeboarding
  • Show Skiing

ImageCrowds haven’t been an issue at the Moomba Masters in Melbourne. Photo: IWSF

Think of water skiing like athletics in the way athletics has many different disciplines under the term ‘athletics’. Although all these sports are governed by the same body in Australia, The Australian Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (AWWF), each discipline is a different sport in its self. For example in Tournament Water Skiing there are three disciplines (slalom, trick and jump), this is substantially different to Ski Racing which is more of a hybrid between an athletic sport and a motor sport.

The sport I’m going to focus on, and one of the most popular, is tournament water skiing. In Australia Tournament Water Ski Nationals are hosted on a yearly basis along with Disabled Tournament Water Ski Nationals. For the past few years there has been over 200 athletes competing from all states and territories across Australia at this five day competition.

The Future of Sport in Australia, aka The Crawford Report, was released in 2009 by the Independent Sports Panel set up by the government. The purpose of this was to “review all aspects of sport in Australia and to chart a new direction.” It was also in response to John Coates (AOC Chief) requesting an extra $100 million a year for 10 years for elite Olympic sports. I can understand where Coates is coming from as he has witnessed firsthand the slide from 58 medals in Sydney 2000 to 49 medals in Athens 2004 to 46 medals in Beijing 2008 and now 35 medals in London 2012. To give $1 billion to elite athletes while the 9 sports of water skiing share $161,000 a year, would highlight the massive inequalities evident in sport funding in Australia.

ImageNo surprises there! John Coates has strongly rejected funding cuts from the elite program over the past few years. Photo: Herald Sun

While the AWWF was included in the research process of The Crawford Report, the findings are only recommendations. Many of these recommendations are still yet to be adopted by the government.

As Tournament Water Skiing grows stronger the screams for more funding will get louder and louder but these screams may be drowned out by the bellowing yell of a declining Olympic team begging for more money.

The Crawford Report –$File/Crawford_Report.pdf