Before they could start the finals of the World +35 Water Ski Championships there was still one more preliminary round that was pushed back, day after day. It was the over 35 women slalom with Australia’s own Mel Collins.
‘The early bird gets the worm’ beautiful Mexican sunrise over Boca Laguna
Water skiing is a tough sport and the slalom discipline is the most cut throat, hands down. It was Mel Collins who joined the list of Aussie to fail on their first pass after an unorthodox edge change caused her to ski inside the 3rd buoy.
Lee Martin picked up the mood in the Aussie camp with a beautiful rendition of Air Supply’s ‘Lost in Love’ which he sung to the event commentator, Tony Lightfoot.
Sue Crisp was the first Australian on the water in the finals, tricking in the over 55 women. First off the dock Crisp improved on her score from the preliminary rounds, scoring 1010, but unfortunately this wasn’t enough to get her a place on the podium. Crisp ended up with a 4th and was subject to a drug test. As with most sports once you reach the highest standard, doping control will be there in ensure no one has an unfair advantage. We are blessed that tournament water skiing has a clean slate in terms of drug testing, not one athlete has tested positive since the start of testing decades ago.
I went down to the dock during the jump finals and you could feel the nervous energy in the air. It is well noted that a World Championships is the toughest event for athletes to ski at because you’re not just skiing for yourself, you’re skiing for your country.
Mark Louder broke the Australian record in the preliminary round and was 3rd seed going into the final for over 55 men jump. Louder jumped an easy 38.3 metres on his second jump but he knew the two guys left on the dock could beat that easy. He brought everything down 5 metres later and only just made it onto the ramp but this jump was well over 40 metres, unfortunately Louder got tangled up on the landing and couldn’t ski it away. This gave him a bronze medal, which is the first medal any Australian has ever got at a +35 World Championships. Louder also came 7th in over 55 men overall.
“The view is amazing from 3rd place, I can’t begin to imagine how good it looks from the top.” – Mark Louder after coming down from the podium
Graham Ashcroft was also coming off breaking an Aussie record in the preliminary round of the over 45 men jump. Ashcroft looked as if he peaked too early jumping a couple metres less than the first round, 40.7 metres. This gave Ashcroft 7th in jump and 11th overall.
Our last team member to skiing at the competition was Sue Crisp in over 55 women slalom. Her score of firstname.lastname@example.org gave her 4th.
Thanks to the major sponsor of the event, Herradura Tequila was flowing freely all afternoon and all Sunday. Australia came 5th overall, the best placing by an Australian team at a +35 World Championships.
While one half of the team ventured home after the banquet night, the other half ventured an hour and a half north of Chapala to a little town called Tequila. We had a free tequila tasting and lunch at the Herradura Tequila factory and distillery. It wasn’t a small operation either as they make 60 000 litres of tequila daily!
On behalf of the Australian Team I would like to thank the Lamadrid family for being so hospitable and being great hosts of the events, the Mexican Water Ski Federation for organising this Championships, all the sponsors for making this Worlds possible and too all the Mexican taxi drivers and waiters for putting up with our terrible Spanish.
Back home I would like to thank the Australian Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (AWWF), Tournament Water Ski Australian (TWSA) and the Australian Government’s Sport Commission for all your support.