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2024 SWISS PRO SLALOM

The Swiss Pro Slalom is always eagerly anticipated – the first professional contest of the season for most competitors and a chance to test out their early form.  But what we experienced at the 10th anniversary edition of the event at Florida’s Swiss Waterski Resort, was something very special and a fitting way to start the 2024 Waterski Pro Tour’s series of slalom competitions. 


A stacked field, including veterans and a host of new kids on the block, kept us entertained through two preliminary rounds and finals, all packed into one day.  By the end, we had witnessed more than a few shocks, crowned a new champion and seen a glimpse of the future of professional slalom skiing. 


Ahead of the women’s event, the smart money was on the world record holder and reigning Queen of Swiss, Regina Jaquess, who had never been beaten here.  Who would bet against the 9-time winner taking her 10th title?  Another 10 women would try to stop her and, when the American uncharacteristically went down with 3.5@11.25m (38’ off) in the first round, it was a sign that she would not have it all her own way. No such problem in round two, however, and Jaquess secured her spot in the 5-woman final with 1@10.25m (41’ off), the same score as the current World Champion, Jaimee Bull of Canada.  Other familiar names – Whitney McClintock-Rini (CAN) and Allie Nicholson (USA) – also made it through, along with first-time finalist, Paige Rini (CAN).  


In the final, gusting winds did not stop all 5 women making it into 10.75m (39.5’ off) with Nicholson (USA) saving her best until last with 3@10.75m.  McClintock-Rini set the bar high with 5 on that line length, leading with two to go. Jaquess had a great start at 10.75m but missed the handle out of buoy 2, managing to hold on with her wrist just long enough to score 2.5. Bull, who has been back on the water for just a few weeks after a winter season on snow, surprised everyone - including herself -by scoring 1@10.25m again to take the victory. So, the podium was Bull, McClintock-Rini, Nicholson; Jaquess’ undefeated streak at Swiss finally coming to an end with 4th place.  


Swiss Pro Slalom - 2024 Women's Podium

The men’s competition was a story of exceptional scores from unexpected quarters, surprisingly low-key performances from some of the sport’s biggest stars and impressive skiing from the contingent of young guns (with 6 of those on the start list aged between 16 and 20). Fourth off the dock with 20 to go, one of those youngsters was 18-year-old Lucas Cornale (AUS). The Junior Moomba Champion, looking cool as a cucumber, laid down the gauntlet with an astonishing 3@10.25m (41’ off), equalling his PB.  By the end of the first round, the teenager was in a log-jam of 8 skiers on the same score and tied in second spot behind one of the ‘oldies’, GB’s Will Asher (4@10.25m). By the end of the second round another three skiers were on 3@10.25m.   


A notable absence from the 8-man final was the reigning World and Moomba Masters Champion, Freddie Winter (GBR) who had made the podium at every pro event he entered in 2023. With an inferior first round score of 0.5 @ 10.25m, his 3 @10.25m in round two was enough only for 9th place. Other big names to miss out were two-time World Champion, Thomas Degasperi (ITA), Dane Mechler (USA) and Jonathan Travers (USA). 


Swiss Pro Slalom - 2024 Men's Podium

The world record holder and six-time winner at Swiss, Nate Smith (USA), found himself in an unfamiliar position as first on the water in the final. Clearly not yet at his best this early in the season, his 2@10.25m left the door wide open. In the end, the three finalists from Great Britain responded best. The overall world record holder, Joel Poland, scored 3@10.25m.  Then his childhood friend and rival, Rob Hazelwood, showed his consistency with his third 3@10.25m of the day.  Finally, Hazelwood’s cousin, 41-year-old Will Asher (respectively 17 and 16 years older than Hazelwood and Poland) did just enough to beat his compatriots with 3.5 @ 10.25m to take his second Swiss Pro title. So, it was a GB clean sweep: Asher, Hazelwood (second with a superior back up score), Poland.  Well worth a mention is 18-year-old Charlie Ross, the U17 and U21 world record holder from Canada.  He finished just off the podium in 4th – and ahead of Nate Smith - with 2@10.25m, having got into that line length in all three rounds.   

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