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2024 San Gervasio pro Am

Amongst the frenetic cadence of this current Afro-Euro leg of the Tour, it would be easy to forget to pay close attention to the unique attributes of each of these events as they pass in a blaze of activity week by week. It would be a shame though, especially in the case of the San Gervasio Pro-Am that this weekend celebrated its 10th edition.


Matteo Luzzeri - Photo by Thomas Gustafson
Matteo Luzzeri - Photo by Thomas Gustafson

Looking back 10 years, the landscape of waterskiing was drastically different. Professional waterskiing had approximately half the events per season as today, nearly all of them in the USA, with none in Europe. That changed in August 2014 when Matteo Luzzeri, a youthful idealist of a pro skier, put on an event that, while initially on the smaller side, would grow over the coming years to become the cornerstone and catalyst of pro skiings expansion into Europe and beyond. As a result, worldwide event numbers have increased and therefore opportunities for pro skiers to compete and earn, consequently improving the level of the sport.


It is the view of many that, without the cosmic spark of the 2014 San Gervasio Pro-Am waterskiing would be in a far darker place. As it is, pro skiing has gone from treading water to thriving and the San Gervasio Pro-Am is the longest running event on the Tour in the same location (California Pro-Am has moved between various lakes over its 20+ years). Only an enforced government-ruled cancellation during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 has stopped San Gervasio running every year since 2014.


10 years has brought its fair share of memorable moments. 2021 champion Thomas Degasperi became the oldest male slalom skier to win a tournament at 41 years old, breaking a record set by the late, great Andy Mapple 18 years prior. A very rare instance of consecutive, competitive complete 10.25m passes happened in 2016 by Nate Smith and Freddie Winter, the same year Manon Costard ran 10.75m on a borrowed ski.


And of course, with much of the world’s top slalom talent once again turning up to their favorite Italian event, this year was no different. While one could be forgiven for thinking a perfect slalom lake, custom built for peak performance, would cause few upsets, it turned out not to be the case.


Jonathan Travers  - Photo by Thomas Gustafson
Jonathan Travers - Photo by Thomas Gustafson

Qualifying highlights from the men’s side came from the home field: the aforementioned organizer, Matteo Luzzeri, competed in his first event since an achilles tendon tear 11 months ago. His competitive score of 3@10.75m, having only just recently started training at 36mph, was heroic. More from him in due course, no doubt. Luzzeri’s countrymen, 19 year old Vincenzo Marino, made waves by qualifying for the final in a fairly comfy 7th spot with some gutsy skiing. With a similar situation at last year's World Championships, here we have a young man who enjoys the big stage.


Men's Slalom Podium - Photo by Thomas Gustafson
Men's Slalom Podium - Photo by Thomas Gustafson

San Gervasio is one of the increasingly few tournaments that uses the Head-to-Head bracketed final format. Once seen as the future for pro skiing, it has more recently fallen out of fashion, only seen a small handful of times a year. However, when used it is a nice break from the norm and, as this weekend, can cause some upsets. Will Asher, the form skier on the Tour, did not get a forecasted win despite dominating the first few rounds. After a huge 5@10.25m in the semi final to knock out fellow two-time World Champion Thomas Degasperi, Asher was set up against good friend Jon Travers for the winl. Going first, however, he fell at 2, uncharacteristically blowing the fin on his infamously strong on-side, leaving Travers to only need a complete 2. Travers duly did what he needed to, emotionally winning his first tournament since Lake 38 Pro-Am 2018 - a victory also won directly against Asher, that time in a run-off. A well deserved win for one of the hardest working men in the sport.


Jamie Bull - Photo by Thomas Gustafson
Jamie Bull - Photo by Thomas Gustafson

On the women’s side, perhaps the story of the tournament was the return to the podium of 2019 World Champion and 11-time pro event winner, Manon Costard. Having taken a step back from the sport in recent years, Costard took 2nd, completing her first 10.75m pass since 2021 along the way. Jaimee Bull took the win, emphatically running her own 10.75m pass in the final to underline her dominance of the Tour so far this year. Interestingly, the two Tour Leaderboard points for best score of the event went to Costard with her 1@10.25m as Bull did not attempt her return pass at 10.25 having won. After winning the Tour by just 2 points in 2023, could she live to regret this oversight?


Women's Slalom Podium - Photo by Thomas Gustafson
Women's Slalom Podium - Photo by Thomas Gustafson

On that note, the top of the Tour Leaderboards remain unchanged with both Jaimee Bull and Will Asher extending their leads with these results. They have 258 and 228 points respectively. Though Bull has more points, the gap to Allie Nicholson in second is significantly less at 69 vs 100 for Asher. Asher has close to double the points of 2nd place, perhaps demonstrating the greater number of skiers, and therefore competitiveness of the field, he has shared the podium with in this year of his near total dominance. Freddie Winter, in 3rd with 114 points, has run his race in the 2024 Tour and will fall down the rankings in due course; he is looking to hit 2025 with a recovered femur after his crash at the last event 10 days ago.


And so, from celebrating a monumental milestone in Italy to breaking new ground in the UK next week. The inaugural Oxfordshire Pro-Am will offer a slalom final under lights next Saturday, something not seen in pro skiing for a decade or more. A fitting way to wrap up this intense localized leg of the Tour that has kept us so entertained these past weeks. See you there.



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