With six new electric cable powered wakeboard parks opening each week around the world, Tokyo got its first introduction to this rapidly developing sport this weekend at the magnificent Rainbow Bridge competition site. The event was the 34th Stop of the Waterski & Wakeboard World Cup Series of the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF).
With 44 riders from 21 countries chasing the cash prize purse of US$100,000, this was the largest 2012 prize in the sport so far. Apart from some occasional showers on Sunday, conditions at Tokyo's immaculate downtown Odaiba beach site were perfect throughout.
Pictured here in attendance at the finals were Mr. Shiguro Hyodo, Special Secretary of the Governor of Tokyo, Mr. Masato Mizuno, Vice President, Japanese Olympic Committee, Mr. Masaru Hosoi, Director General, Bureau of Sports, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Kuno Ritschard, IWWF President, Mr. Katsuhiko Susukita, President of the Japanese Wakeboard Association, Mr. Toru Homma, President of the Japanese Waterski Association and Mr. Paul Fong, President of the Asia Waterski & Wakeboard Federation.
In the Open Men event, of the 28 contestants, the eight who made it through to the finals represented Germany, Great Britain, Israel and Hungary. Surprisingly, those who failed to make it through included hot contenders Rocco van Straten (NED), Austin Hair (USA) and Daniel Fetz (AUT). The youngest rider, 15-year-old Omeir Saeed (UAE), greatly impressed all and is certain to be a future World Cup medals contender. European Champion, Lior Sofer (ISR), had a narrow escape in the semifinals but got through. Past World Champion Nick Davies (GBR) returned from a twelve-month injury layoff and impressed all in taking his finals place with style.
Sofer was the first of the finalists to enter the wakeboard cable arena, but both he and Laslo Papp (HUN) had surprisingly disappointing runs in the hot 34C humid weather. James Young (GBR) followed. His score of 70.67 set a whole new standard to beat. Next out was Nick Davies, but he failed to beat James Young's score. With just two riders remaining, Young was now guaranteed a World Cup podium place. Next came Frederic von Osten (GER). His superb performances on the Rixen obstacles brought cheers from the Tokyo spectators. With a score of 80.67, he passed a huge challenge to Dominik Guhrs (GER), the remaining rider. Guhrs put in a fantastic performance and again was especially impressive on the Rixen obstacles. As he came back to shore, head judge Aaron Armborst (GER) and his team did not have an easy task in scoring the winner. By a margin of just four points, it was Frederick von Osten who took this World Cup gold medal, with Guhrs taking the silver medal and Young the bronze.
In the Women Open event, the starting group of 16 riders was eventually reduced to six places in the finals. As in the Men's event, there were surprises along the way. Past World Wakeboard Champion, Robbie Rendo (ARG), and Lauren Ormsby (AUS), were just unlucky and the World Cup Final's pressures proved too much. World Champion Kirsteen Mitchell (GBR) and European Champion Denise de Haan (NED) did get through.
British National Champion Steph Caller (GBR) was the first finalist on the water as the sun again burst through the damp clouds. However, she knew that her respectable score of 51.67 would just not be enough to get ahead of the talented riders still on the dock. Astrid Schabransky (AUT) followed, but did not improve much on Caller's score. Denise de Haan was next and her score of 67.52 lifted the whole scene as she smiled her way back to the dock! This piled the pressure on Angelika Schriber (AUS) and that pressure worked. She received an ovation from the spectators as her very impressive score of 76.0 was announced. This created a thrilling finish - with just Kirsteen Mitchell (GBR) and Cosima Giemza (GER) on the dock. Kirsteen Mitchell followed and all expected a Podium performance here from the World Cable Wakeboard Champion. While she did improve on Schabransky's score with 64.0, Denise de Haan was now in the lead and a guaranteed podium place. Could the last Rider, Cosima Giemza (GER), possibly beat Schriber's 76.0 score? Just as in the Men's final again, Head Judge Aaron Armborst and his team had very close scoring to do. However, while Giemza out-performed five of the six Finalists, the Tokyo World Cup gold medal was the property of Angelika Schriber on this occasion - with silver going to Cosima Giemza and bronze to Denise de Haan.
Katsuhiko Susukida, President of Japan Wakeboard Association, paid a special tribute to the 44 international riders who brought the thrills of cable wakeboard to Tokyo for the first time and showing why this environment friendly and low cost sport is growing so rapidly around the world. He also thanked the City of Tokyo for their generous support of this 34th World Cup Stop.
The next Waterski & Wakeboard World Cup Stop will be the 35th in this series and will take place in Palembang, Indonesia, over the weekend of November 24-25. Full details will be available on the World Cup Website.
1. Frédéric von Osten (GER) - 80.67
2. Dominik Gührs (GER) - 76.67
3. James Young (GBR) - 70.67
4. Nick Davies (GBR) - 64.33
5. Lior Sofer (ISR) - 55.67
6. Laszlo Papp (HUN) - 47.67
1. Angelika Schriber (AUS) - 76.00
2. Cosima Giemza (GER) - 69.00
3. Denise de Haan (NED) - 62.67
4. Kirsteen Mitchell (GBR) - 61.67
5. Astrid Schabransky (AUT) - 56.33
6. Steph Caller (GBR) - 51.67
Full Tokyo results are available at cablewakeboard.net.