USA, Australia, Korea, Italy and Switzerland take gold at IWWF World Wakeboard Championships in Busan, Korea
With 160 Wakeboard Riders from 30 Countries chasing just eight gold medals plus one Team Overall gold medal, the 2013 World Championships of the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) were destined to be the toughest challenge of the year. Five of the 30 Countries succeeded in their challenge at one of the best World Wakeboard Championships for many years.
The host City of Busan in the south east of the Republic of Korea has a clear objective to attract major international sports events to the area. These 2013 World Wakeboard Championships were the largest such event in the world this year. During the five-day event, temperatures varied from 31C / 92Fh to 21C / 72Fh, with strong winds at the early stages. These proved testing for both the Riders and the Drivers of the MasterCraft boats. However, Chief Judge Jung Sanghan (KOR) and his team quickly adapted the timetable so that all stages were fully completed. Fortunately, the Finals took place under hot sunny skies and the performances on the water were truly outstanding.
With just six places available in the Finals, the climax of the week were the Open Men and Open Women events. These contained virtually all the current major national, international and World Cup stars. In the lead up to the Men’s event, there were some surprising casualties with past World Champion Andrew Adkison (USA), David O’Caoimh (IRL) and Sam Carne (GBR) not making it through. As ever, it got down to a battle between the extraordinary talent of 19 year-old Harley Clifford (AUS) versus all the others! He absolutely dominated the earlier rounds. Yet again took the gold medal and title of IWWF World Champion with ease. Toni Iacconi (AUS) was unlucky not to make the Podium and had to settle for fourth. Clifford’s close friend Shota Tezuka (JPN) and the Russian Nikita Martyanov took silver and bronze.
The Open Ladies Event followed a similar pattern at the top. Again, World Cup regulars Chen LiLi (CHN) and Megan Barker (GBR) missed out on a Finals place. However, six-time World Cup Champion Raimi Merritt (USA) just dominated when it counted and took home yet another gold medal plus the title of IWWF 2013 World Wakeboard Champion. Nicola Butler (USA) looked set for a medal this time but just missed out to Sweden’s talented Caroline Djupsjo for that bronze medal. Australia’s Amber Wing got closest to Raimi Merritt and was delighted to capture the silver medal to add to her very impressive collection.
In the other Finals, the stars who shone through covered a very wide range of ages. In Junior Men, Noah Flegel (USA), as expected, was in a league of his own in taking gold and is certainly destined for great international victories ahead. Italy’s Junior, Georgia Gregoria, was also very impressive and her gold medal now brings her into the international arena. At the other end of the scale, in Masters Men 2, Jeff Barton (USA) created his own miracle. Having almost retired from international competition, many were surprised to see him back on the stage. However, old habits of real champions die hard and he truly deserved that gold medal award with his very impressive performance.
Team scores tend to tick away quietly in the background and receive little notice, as ever, till close to the end. With a wide spread of victories earned for Italy, Switzerland, Korea, Australia and the USA along the way, this truly reflected the enormous global impact of Wakeboard today. The USA has historically been a dominant force and did look set to take this coveted title home. However, when the calculations were finally made, it was Australia which carried the victory on this occasion with their well earned Team Overall World Championships Gold Medal. It was also thrilling to see Team Korea take the bronze medal and rising to the top of that large field of 30 Countries.
Kuno Ritschard, IWWF President, congratulated Korea Waterski & Wakeboard Association on organizing such a high quality World Championships and also for their enormous hospitality to all involved throughout. He also congratulated Team Korea on their outstanding achievement this year.
IWWF WORLD WAKEBOARD COUNCIL
INTERNATIONAL WATERSKI & WAKEBOARD FEDERATION
KOREA WATERSKI & WAKEBOARD ASSOCIATION
CHAMPIONSHIPS INFORMATION BULLETIN