By Jane Peel
A big crowd, DJ, live music, dancing girls and big, big trophies. Formula One Motor racing? The NFL? No, it’s the Kaiafas Battle Pro Am slalom. And what a weekend it was.
“The vibe down here is electric… it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen.” The words of Arron Davies were echoed by many of the pros competing at the third European stop of the Waterski Pro Tour, held in south west Greece. The atmosphere on the lakeside seemed to inspire the performances on the water with some great scores over three preliminary rounds and the finals.
In the women’s event, there were just four skiers to contest the podium places. Once again, it was the reigning World Champion and leader in the Waterski Pro Tour standings, Jaimee Bull of Canada, who led from the start, setting a new course record of 4 @ 10.75 metres (39.5’off) in round one and following up with 3 @ 10.75m in round two. With her best score two buoys ahead of her nearest rival, Jaimee chose to preserve her energy and sit out round three on Sunday morning to prepare for the final. As top seed and the last skier off the dock in the final, she finished the job with another 3 @ 10.75m. That’s now three wins in a row on consecutive weekends on the WPT for Jaimee following her victories at Botaski in Spain and San Gervasio in Italy.
The podium in Greece was a repeat of the one at San Gervasio. Allie Nicholson of the USA closely challenged Jaimee to finish as runner-up. She dropped the handle just before rounding buoy 3 and ended with 2 @ 10.75m. Beatrice Ianni of Italy was third with 3 @ 11.25 (38’ off) taking her second pro podium.
Great Britain’s Will Asher led the men’s pack of 10 in round one, equalling the course record with 4 @ 10.25m (41’ off) in round one, which proved to be the highest score of the weekend. A surprise second seed going into the final was Asher’s GB teammate, Arron Davies, who twice got into 10.25m and matched his personal best with a score of 3 @ 10.25m in round three. He was unable to repeat that feat in the final but goes on to his next pro competition a very happy man.
Will Asher – so often on the podium at professional competitions – finally made his way up to the top step after a long spell without a victory, extending his lead at the top of the Tour standings. He won by half a buoy with 3.5 @ 10.25m. He’s contested four of the five WPT slalom competitions in 2022 and has made the podium at each of them.
It was a British 1-2 with Freddie Winter second (3 @ 10.25m) on his return to action after a back injury. Third place went to Italy’s Matteo Luzzeri who was stoked to achieve his first pro podium for eight years with 2 @ 10.25m.