Pine Mountain, GA (May 23, 2015) – The 56th Masters Water Ski & Wakeboard Tournament presented by GM Marine Engine Technology drew thousands of spectators today as the world’s best waterski, wakeskate and wakeboard athletes competed for a spot in Sunday’s finals.
In the Women’s Tricks semifinal, world record holder Erika Lang scored 9,300 points earning top seed followed by fellow Team Nautique skier Natallia Berdnikava. Alex Laurentano placed third and Nautique’s Clementine Lucine will move on to tomorrow’s final round in fourth. In Men’s Tricks, Nautique skier and world record holder Aliaksei Zharnasek tricked 12,020 points moving on to the finals along with Adam Pickos, Pierre Ballon, and Russell Gay.
Congratulations to Junior Masters Slalom Champion Brooke Baldwin who competed in the junior head-to-head exhibition against Geneva Roach, earning a scholarship courtesy of O’Brien.
For the second year, the Masters featured a final four head-to-head competition of the top finalists from the 2014 Nautique Big Dawg World Tour. The 2014 champion and Team Nautique legend Andy Mapple performed as if he had never missed a year on Robin Lake skiing to 1@41-off against Greg Badal who scored email@example.com. Jeff Rodgers also finished with 1@41-off against Dave Miller who scored 3.5@38-off. Rodgers will meet Mapple in tomorrow’s final head-to-head round that will take place right after Pro Men’s Slalom.
Defending Women’s Slalom Champion and Team Nautique skier Whitney McClintock ran 4@38-off followed by Manon Costard, Regina Jaquess and Clementine Lucine. In the Men’s Slalom semifinal, world record holder and Team Nautique athlete Nate Smith finished on top running 3@41-off in challenging conditions. Smith looks to capture his second Masters title against Freddie Winter, Daniel Odvarko, and Thomas Degasperi in tomorrow’s final.
The level of riding in the Men’s Wakeskate semifinal was stepped up behind the Super Air Nautique G21 with three previous Masters champions competing in tomorrow’s four man final. In Heat #1 Brian Grubb scored 80.33 points followed by Reed Hanson. The second heat saw defending Masters champion Danny Hampson continue the consistency he has shown this season on his way to a score of 82.67 points, ahead of James Balzer who also moves through to the final round.
In other events, Women’s Wakeboarding saw Dallas Friday and Tarah Mikacich advance on from Heat #1 behind the Super Air Nautique G23. Nautique rider Meagan Ethell rode absolutely huge, setting herself apart from the rest of the field with technical tricks followed by teammate Raimi Merritt in Heat #2. The Men’s Wakeboard semifinal is always exciting as riders are forced to pull out all of the stops on every pass. Harley Clifford put up a score of 92.33 points followed by Rusty Malinoski going characteristically huge for a score of 87.67. In the second heat, defending Masters Champion Phil Soven earned top seed ahead of Nautique Rider JD Webb who’s been on fire all year.
The Jump semifinals rounded out the day with Nautique skier Jacinta Carroll just shy of the course record by 1/10th of a meter going 184 feet (56.0m). Team Nautique skiers Marion Mathieu-Ellis and Natallia Berdnikava, along with Regina Jaquess will advance to the finals. Ryan Dodd jumped 226 feet (68.9m) securing the Men’s Jump leader position for Sunday’s final followed by Freddy Krueger, Rodrigo Miranda and Igor Morozov.
The Opening Ceremonies of the 56th Masters Finals will begin tomorrow at 10:00AM with the Parade of Champions followed by the final rounds at 10:30AM. For complete up-to-date scores of the 56th Masters, please visit masterswaterski.com/standings/
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An invitation to compete in the Masters is universally considered an acknowledgement of achievement for reaching the pinnacle in a given watersports discipline – only the world’s most elite athletes compete at the Masters. To view the 2015 criteria please visit the Masters website. This tournament is sanctioned by IWWF/USA Water Ski and WWA. Watch all of 56th Masters action live on Sunday May 24th starting at 10:00AM EST, please visit masterswaterski.com.