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2024 Lake 38 Pro Am

Regina Jaquess at the 2024 Lake 38 Pro Am
Photo by Robert Hazelwood

The second slalom competition of the 2024 Waterski Pro Tour took place at the weekend at Lake 38, just outside Tallahassee in north Florida.

The men’s field, in particular, was somewhat depleted – Nate Smith, Will Asher, Thomas Degasperi and Dane Mechler were all absent. However, the scores across the three rounds were evidence of the breadth of talent currently on display in pro skiing, with the victory going to a skier taking his first professional title.  The women’s competition was a little more predictable with the top three skiers all regulars on the podium and all previous winners at Lake 38.

Of the 13 women on the start list, the eight with the best scores, from either of the two preliminary rounds on Saturday, would go through to Sunday’s final.  In fact, nine skiers were put through as a result of Italy’s Alice Bagnoli and Samantha Stadlbaur of the USA tying in a dead heat for 8th place. They both had a best score of 2@10.75m (39.5’ off) and a back up of 3@11.25m (38’ off). Neither could do enough to trouble the top three seeds in the final, who were in that position because all had at least one score on the 10.25m (41’ off) line.

The winner was Regina Jaquess (USA), who was the only woman to get into 10.25m in all three rounds – her best being a 3 buoy count in round one.  Her 1@10.25m in the final was easily enough to beat the two Canadians, Jaimee Bull and defending champion Whitney McClintock Rini, who both scored 3@10.75m. McClintock was 2nd on countback and Bull 3rd.

Women's podium of the 2024 Lake 38 Pro Am
Photo by Robert Hazelwood

A lengthy rain delay on day one pushed the men’s second round to Sunday morning, but the change in schedule was no problem for the young Australian, Lucas Cornale. The 18-year-old has been taking the waterskiing world by storm this year with his podium at the Moomba Masters in March and equal PB of 3@10.25m at the Swiss Pro in May.  He followed up with a stunning 5@10.25m, taking the top seed spot in the final from Great Britain’s Freddie Winter, who scored 4 in both prelim rounds.  Cornale’s score is a pending Under 21 world record.

The standard of the skiing was further demonstrated by the fact that not only did all eight finalists get a score on 10.25m in both prelim rounds but they required at least 3@10.25m in one of those rounds to make it through.  Not all could reach those heights again in the final, including Cornale who blew his fin, resulting in a spectacular dismount to score 2.5@10.25m. Three did, however.  Freddie Winter, Rob Hazelwood (GBR) and Cole McCormick (CAN) tied on 3, forcing a run-off starting on 10.75m to decide the podium. 

The result was a first professional victory for Hazelwood (3@10.25m in the tie-break), whose consistency has finally paid off. Winter was second (2.5@10.25m), making the podium for the first time since winning the Moomba Masters in March.  McCormick – who had his first professional win a week earlier at the Masters – was third (2.25@10.25m).

Men's podium of the Lake 38 Pro Am

Hazelwood was ecstatic, declaring that a win on the Pro Tour was something he’d dreamed about since day zero.  He also said something that the rest of the field were probably thinking. Referring to Lucas Cornale, he warned: “he’s coming for every single one of us”.

A special mention goes to Adam Caldwell for his dramatic return to the pro scene, recovering from a full stretch body slide to score 3@10.25m in round one and make the final.

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