We could have seen it coming. Last year’s Travers Grand Prix saw absurdly high scores across the board - including a few first evers - so it was no surprise perhaps that this year’s was no different. Here are the headlines the weekend as we see them: the highest ever scoring round of slalom waterskiing in history (men’s qualifying round 2), highest ever cut to make an 8 skier final (men’s), the highest ever scoring podium (men’s), tied most 10.75m passes run in a single round (women’s final, tied with Malibu Open 2021).
Men’s qualifying round 2 started out with a five way tie for 3rd spot at 3 at 10.25 and a handful of 2s. Clearly a battle would be on for the 8 final spots but no one expected quite how tough it would be. Corey Vaughn set the bar. Out first after a foul on a long handle in round 1, he threw himself at, and around, buoy 4, just squeaking the 3.25 buoys that gave him breathing room. Rob Hazelwood thought he had a chance by getting himself a 3 also. But what followed was unprecedented. By the end of the round there were 7 scores over 3 at 10.25m, unthinkable even until recently. Thomas Degasperi and Adam Sedlmajer, with their pair of 3’s, battled it out for the final spot with Sedlmajer coming out on top. Degasperi can count himself unfortunate as the first ever skier to not make a final with such qualifying scores.
More fireworks in the final. Last year Will Asher was victorious in a run-off after tying Freddie Winter’s firstname.lastname@example.org, the first time a title was decided at this most difficult of line lengths. It took a return to the same venue, indeed the next edition of the same event, for it to be repeated. Nate Smith ran as easy a 10.25 as you can imagine before misjudging an S-turn on the next rope, leaving him with email@example.com. Freddie Winter, the only loser at 9.75m in history, was last off the dock with the smallest glimpse of redemption. After a battle through 10.25m he took it as he got the full 1 to take his third Tour victory of the year. Will Asher in 3rd with his firstname.lastname@example.org cemented the highest scoring podium of all time. The 5 at 10.25 tied for the highest 3rd place score ever, alongside Thomas Degasperi at the 2020 MasterCraft Pro.
Asher’s 3rd placement moved him just above Degasperi and onto the podium at the death on the Klipsch Leaderboard with 193 points. Though the top 2 placements were cemented last week at the Malibu Open, Freddie Winter’s win and best score pulled him a touch closer to 2023 Tour Champion Nate Smith with 272 points and 284 respectively.
Advancing to the women’s final was only achieved by a pair of 2s at 10.75m - once again, incredibly high. In the final Allie Nicholson ran her 3rd Tour 10.75m of the year but agonizingly fell at 1 to leave the door open for the mighty talent that was to follow. In the end there were three more 10.75s run, first by Jaimee Bull and Whitney McClintock-Rini who tied with 1 at 10.25.. Regina Jaquess, reigning champion equalled the record of four 10.75s in a women’s round that she, McClintock-Rini, Bull and Manon Costard had set two years prior. The 10-time slalom world record holder duly got around 2 at 10.25m to take the title, her fourth Tour win of the year.
So in the end, after 12 slalom Tour stops, the destination of the winners trophy was decided by 2 points. Despite Jaquess’s best efforts late in the season, she was not able to make up the ground on Bull that had been gained across the first 7 events of the season. Bull’s Malibu Open triumph last weekend proved absolutely pivotal to her crossing the line. Her total on the Klipsch Marine Leaderboard bested Jaquess’s by the slimmest of margins, 268 to 266. McClintock-Rini’s 226 points put her third and above Allie Nicholson with 218.
And so the curtain falls on another season of the Waterski Pro Tour. It has been a ride from start to finish though, perhaps, the best was saved for last. We are grateful for your support and interest this season and look forward to the drama recommencing next year. We’re already counting down the days.