By Joey Gilroy
May Madness is over, as are the early stages of this year’s Pro Tour. The King of Darkness was a resounding success, with Freddy Krueger, Regina Jaquess, Nate Smith, and Whitney McClintock-Rini all coming away as winners. The Swiss Pro Slalom finished with Nate Smith and Regina Jaquess each topping the podiums at the end of the weekend with Regina continuing her unbeaten streak at Swiss since 2015..
The King of Darkness was a long tournament, with preliminary rounds starting Thursday morning, and the finals taking place on Saturday night. In the opening rounds, Nate Smith set the bar for the rest of the tournament being the only person to run 41off (10.25m) during the weekend. Round 1 of Men’s Slalom ended with Smith on top of the leaderboard, and five skiers tying the next best score of 3@41off. After round 2, skiers were cut down to just the top four competitors of the weekend. Thomas Degasperi, Freddie Winter, Will Asher, and Nate Smith were the few skiers remaining in the tournament. Of that field, Smith and Asher were the two skiers who remained on the water, earning the right to compete in a head-to-head slalom competition in the finals. Asher finished skiing with a score of firstname.lastname@example.org (10.75m) and Smith came away with the win by running 41off for the second time this weekend.
In the women’s slalom division, Whitney McClintock-Rini and Regina Jaquess were clear favorites to go to the finals, being the only women to run 39.5off. After two rounds of preliminary skiing, the top four skiers advanced to the first round of the finals. Allie Nicholson, Jaimee Bull, Regina Jaquess, and Whitney McClintock-Rini were all set to compete to ski in the final head-to-head round. Bull and Nicholson ended their skiing tied at scores of email@example.com, and Jaquess and McClintock-Rini tied with scores of 0.5@41off to qualify for the final round. In that round, Jaquess scored 5@39off, but was bested by McClintock-Rini who skied through the full pass to win it all!
Alongside slalom, the King of Darkness is also the first major jump tournament on the Tour. The qualifying rounds were exciting with eight separate skiers breaking the 200ft (61m) mark to qualify for the final round of night jump. Overall skiers Dorien Llewellyn and Joel Poland tied for the longest jumps of the weekend, each hitting 227ft (69.1m) in the second round! Late on Saturday night, under a full moon and some floodlights, Freddy Krueger came away with the win by jumping 226ft (68.8m) in the final, outscoring the next furthest jump by 6ft.
Women’s jump was exciting as well! Hanna Straltsova started the weekend strong by jumping 186ft (56.7m) in the qualifying rounds to set a strong standard for the other women to try and beat. However a nasty crash in the final took her out of contention. At the end, Regina Jaquess finished the weekend as the women’s jump champion, leaping 178ft (54.3m). No stranger to the top of the slalom podium, this rarer jump victory is even more impressive after her devastating knee injury of less than two years ago.
Swiss Pro Slalom
After all of the festivities of the King of Darkness, skiing moved to the Swiss Waterski Resort for their slalom tournament the very next morning. The tournament followed a similar format as the previous days’ competition with two rounds of qualifying skiing, followed by a cut down to the final round.
The women’s slalom event finished with a familiar final four composed of Allie Nicholson, Jaime Bull, Whitney McClintock-Rini, and Regina Jaquess. Jaquess came away with the win with a score of 2@41off, having run the previous pass five total times throughout the weekend! This was her 9th consecutive win at the Swiss Pro, a venue where she has dominated since the event started in 2015. Special mention to McClintock-Rini who didn’t miss a 10.75m pass in 7 rounds this weekend as she narrowly missed out. The duel between her and Jaquess will be incredible this season.
The men’s division started with a field of 26 competitors that were narrowed down to eight qualifying skiers. The final round was incredibly close, with all skiers making it into the 41off pass. Four skiers tied in the final round with scores of 3@41off, followed closely by Freddie Winter who was able to separate himself a bit by scoring 3.5@41off, and our leader Nate Smith who won the tournament with a score of 4@41off.
Featured Skier Updates
Our featured skiers of the weekend were Charlie Ross and Ali Garcia. Both athletes slalomed in the King of Darkness and Swiss Pro Slalom. During the first two rounds of the King of Darkness, Garcia put up two good scores of 3@38off (11.25m) and 4@38off. She followed up those runs with solid skiing at the Swiss Pro Slalom, scoring 5@38off and 1@38off in the tournament. Ross did some great skiing as well! In the first two rounds of the King of Darkness, he scored 1.50@41off, and 4.50@39off. He then went on to ski well in the Swiss Pro Slalom, earning him a trip to the final round of skiing. During the Swiss Pro Slalom tournament, Ross tied his personal best twice, scoring 3@41off during qualifying, then tying that score again in the finals.
Pro Tour Leaderboard Updates
After all of the weekend’s skiing, the tour leaderboard has been updated. Starting with Men’s Slalom, our leaders are Nate Smith (86pts), Freddie Winter (60pts), and Will Asher (57pts). For women’s slalom, our leaders are Whitney McClintock-Rini (77pts), Regina Jaquess (74pts), and Jaimee Bull (55pts). Our men’s jump leaderboard is headed by Freddy Krueger (60pts), Taylor Garcia (48pts), and Dorien Llewellyn (40pts). Women’s jump is lead by Regina Jaquess (25pts), Aliaksandra Danisheuskaya (20pts), and Hanna Straltsova (16pts).
For full tour results, be sure to check out the leaderboard updated on Waterskiprotour.com.