The Barefoot world championships were held this year at the impressive purpose built water ski centre in Waco Texas. The lakes of the Barefoot Ski Ranch have been dug and graded specifically to give barefoot water skiers the best water possible, and what a fantastic week we got.
There were 160 skiers from 15 countries at this years worlds giving the championships a great atmosphere and offering excellent competition for all skiers. 7 skiers were present from Team GB allowing a full team in the open and two skiers in each of the Junior and Senior championships which run alongside the open.
The competition got underway as the sun just started to rise at 7:30 on a glorious Monday morning with the Chinese skiers showing us how good they were at slalom. The early starts became a feature of this worlds with fantastic sunrises over the lakes and wonderful views of the deer around the site.
The heats took three days to get through and at the end of them we saw Amber Court set two PB's and progressed through to her first Semi-finals at world level in the Juniors. Ted Baber also managed to progress through to two Semi-finals in the junior competition A very good performance by the British squad in the open event left the GB Team in a superb 3rd place after the heats with Dave Small making it to all three semi-finals, Adam Chalk getting through in Tricks and Slalom and Hannah Bullard getting through in the Women's Trick event.
In the seniors we saw Paul Turner setting two PBs, and Dave Field showing us how to Slalom ski on your feet and making it through to the senior men's Semi Finals.
Things were now very tight for the third team slot behind the dominant teams of the Aussies and Yanks. The New Zealand wanted that 3rd place and were only a few points behind us, and both Ben Groen and Georgia Groen had a capability to improve their scores whilst the British team were almost maxed out with nearly everyone getting close or exceeding their PB's.
The semi-finals got underway with the Juniors and Amber again set another new PB as she skied herself into 11th place in both the tricks and slalom events and Teddy Boy cruising into both the Trick and Slalom finals.
The open semi's were a tense affair with only 5 skiers going through to the finals, so scores were going to be massive to qualify. Dave Small showed us why he is the best in the world as he easily qualified for all three events. But the semi-finals are not just about qualification it also sets the team positions, and we were very close to the New Zealand team. Well Georgia Groen pulled all the stops out, but some tough judging and a massive score by Ashley Stebbeings of Australia actually saw Georgia's points reduce in tricks offsetting some excellent gains by the New Zealand team in the Slalom and Jump events. The final position was almost the same as after the first Round leaving Team GB in Bronze position by a slim margin of 176 point in over 6500. Well done Team GB.
Well finals day came for the Juniors and we had our own Ted in both the boys Tricks and Slalom final. Ted pushed hard in both events but just couldn't get into the medals finishing in that worst of positions 4th in both events. Well done Ted 4th at a worlds is a fantastic achievement.
In the open women's finals we had no GB skiers but we witnessed a fantastic battle between the dominate Ashley and the up and coming Georgia. Georgia managed to steal the Gold medal in tricks from Ashley in the roughest water conditions of the competition, but Ashley showed why she is the best women's skier by taking both the Jump and Slalom Gold medals and the Women's overall.
In the men's, things were tight for the overall medal between Dave Small and Keith St Onge of the USA. Well, the water was rough but no worse than the girls had, and we saw Keith fall on both his passes handing the overall crown to Dave, but hang on the water roughs up more and the event is on hold. At the restart the water conditions are now a little better so the whole final is re-run and Keith sets the water alight to take the Gold medal with Dave in second. But worse for us is that he has now closed the gap for the overall gold medal to a point where a 28.2m Jump would hand him the medal something he might just do.
Well in the last event of the championships its Keith vs Dave, and Keith jumps a great 28.2m but no, can't keep hold of the handle and that gold overall medal goes to Dave. But Dave still has to jump big to keep his Jump title, because Peter O'Neil from Australia had set a distance of 27.2m. So up steps Dave and bang he sets a 28.2m Jump to take the medal, ironic as that was the score his great rival needed to take the overall crown.
In the end Dave Small came away with 4 medals, Bronze in Slalom, Silver in Tricks and Gold in both Jump and Overall. A great performance from a Great Guy and a Great skier for Great Britain.