Pine Mountain, GA (May 26, 2012) – The 53rd Masters Water Ski & Wakeboard Tournament® kicked off today at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA with large crowds and beautiful weather. USA’s Regina Jaquess set a new course record in the Women’s Slalom semifinal, and for the first time ever in wakeboard competition, Steel Lafferty landed a wake to wake heelside backside 900 behind the all-new Super Air Nautique G23!
A nine year course record was finally broken by Regina Jacquess with 2@39-off earning top seed going into tomorrow’s finals followed by Whitney McClintock and Karen Truelove in Women’s Slalom. In Men’s Slalom semifinal, Chris Parrish ran 3@41-off advancing to tomorrow’s finals with the top score followed by Nate Smith, Thomas Degasperi and Aaron Larkin.
Whitney McClintock earned top seed with a strong performance in the Women’s Trick semifinal with a score of 8,740 points, followed by Alex Lauretano, Natallia Berdnikava and Iris Cambray. In Men’s Tricks Aliaksei Zharnasek earned top seed tricking 11,270 points advancing on to tomorrow’s finals along with Alexandre Poteau, Russell Gay and Franck Desboyaux.
In the Men’s Wakeskate semifinal everyone went out there to lay down consistent and clean passes behind the Super Air Nautique 210 – Byerly Icon Edition in hopes of becoming the next champion. In Heat #1 Stu Shinn had uncharacteristic falls that advanced Grant Robert and Brian Grubb to the finals. Also advancing on to the finals is Brandon Thomas who had an awesome run but Reed Hansen one upped Thomas even after Hansen fell realizing he had no fin and continued his run only to post the high score of the day in Heat #2.
In other events, last minute alternate Tarah Mikacich was first off the dock with an early fall but then came back with a good second pass. However, it wasn’t quite enough as Nicola Butler rode well to advance on and Raimi Merritt stood up both passes claiming the final spot in Heat #1. In Women’s Wakeboard Heat #2, Dallas Friday was first off the dock, an unfamiliar seed for Friday who was hoping to make her comeback after being injured this past year, she threw down but it wasn’t enough to beat last year’s Masters champion Amber Wing and Meagan Ethell who advanced on.
The Men’s Wakeboard semifinal was insane with the all-new Super Air Nautique G23 allowing riders to go big off the wake and into the flats landing tricks that are normally landed off the double-up wake. Steel Lafferty landed the first wake to wake heelside backside 900 in a contest advancing on to the finals along with Harley Clifford from Heat #2. In Heat #1 Phillip Soven and Aaron Rathy will also move on to the finals.
The Jump semifinals rounded out the day with Team Nautique athlete Natallia Berdnikava earning top seed with a jump of 181’ followed by Regina Jaquess who edged out Marion Mathieu by one tenth of a meter for the second spot and Jacinta Carroll will advance on to the finals. Freddy Krueger secured the Men’s Jump leader position for Sunday’s final when he jumped one tenth of a meter more than Ryan Dodd. Thomas Asher and Scot Ellis will also advance on to the finals with Dodd and Krueger.
The Opening Ceremonies of the 53rd Masters Finals will begin tomorrow at 10:00AM with the Parade of Champions followed by the 53rd Masters Finals at 10:30AM.
For complete up-to-date scores of the 53rd Masters, please visit Masters Results.
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. This tournament is IWWF/USA Water Ski and WWA sanctioned. Watch all of 53rd Masters action live on Sunday May 27th starting at 10:00AM EST, visit the Masters website.