By Jane Peel
Stop two of the European stage of the 2022 Waterski Pro Tour took place under clear blue skies and in scorching temperatures near Milan in Italy at the weekend. Nine pro women and 23 pro men competed in slalom at the San Gervasio Pro Am, held at Jolly Ski for the eighth time. There was also a big field of amateurs of all ages and some talented under-17s who contested the Radar Junior Challenge.
In Pro Women, a new champion was guaranteed with none of the previous winners present. The eight who made it through the two preliminary rounds to the head-to-head knockout stage were split equally geographically with four from North America and four from Europe.
In a repeat of her performance last weekend at the Botaski Pro Am, the current World Champion, Jaimee Bull of Canada, came through as the top seed with the highest score by some distance of 1 @ 10.25m (41 off). And once again, she went all the way through to the final and to the top of the podium with a score of 3 @ 10.75m (39.5 off), beating Celine Detry of Belgium, Ali Garcia (USA) and Allie Nicholson (USA) on the way. Allie got to the final and finished as runner-up, despite skiing for most of the competition on a back-up ski. Her regular ski got caught in the handle and broke in round one. Italy’s Beatrice Ianni was third, taking the first pro podium of her career.
In a super competitive Pro Men’s field, the top two seeds for the final eight were decided by big scores. In round one, the leader in the Waterski Pro Tour standings, Will Asher (GBR), led the way with 5 @ 10.25m. With his place guaranteed in the head-to-head he chose to sit out round two, only to see the World Champion, Nate Smith (USA) overtake him, running 10.25m late in the evening as the sun was setting.
While both Will and Nate are regulars in pro finals, it was a new experience for 17-year-old Florian Parth. The Italian made it to the last eight in just his second pro competition, confirming his place with a PB of 2 @ 10.25m at his home site. Unfortunately for him, as eighth seed, he went up against Nate Smith, with the expected result. Nate took his third win at San Gervasio, running 10.25m again in the final. Sacha Descuns of France was runner-up with 4 @ 10.25m in only his third competition back after a long lay-off and surgery on an injured arm. Will Asher was third, collecting enough points to keep him at the top of the Tour standings by the slimmest of margins. The defending San Gervasio champion, Thomas Degasperi (ITA), had to settle for fourth.
The winners of the Radar Junior Challenge for under-17s were Alana Jones (USA) and Jaime Palomino of Mexico. Jaime also won the Skier of the Day, voted for by the TWBC audience.
Next weekend, the Waterski Pro Tour moves on to Greece for the Kaiafas Battle Pro Am slalom. It will be the third of five consecutive weekends of Waterski Pro Tour action in Europe. After Greece, the tour hits Norway and the UK before heading back to the US.