Well it's been coming and it's finally here, the 2016 Skiforce Moomba Masters wrap-up. We had a bit of everything this year, from huge upsets as well as the usual suspects continuing to make their marks on the sport and building legacies. With an outstanding number of athletes once again from all across the globe, Moomba continues to provide the ultimate platform for waterskiing and wakeboarding competition. Along the Yarra river the laws of nature play havoc, creating one of the hardest places to compete, providing the best viewing for the well over 1 million spectators who pass the river for the festival.
Slalom provided one of the most exciting battles of the whole competition, with Thomas Degaspari snaring 3rd over Freddie Winter with their semi final score splitting the difference. When it came to placing first and second is where the competition really heated up, with a head to head battlebetween world champion and current world record holder, Nate Smith, and the previous record holder, who in his time in the sport won almost everything bar the elusive Moomba Masters championship, HO Ski's Will Asher. In a tight race both tied with a single buoy a piece at the 10.25 line, leading to a tie breaker decider to split them, it was Nate Smith's to lose after Will Asher skied 4 buoys at the 10.75 line, and as he rounded out the course on the 10.75 line, looking set to take home another championship, video review saw that a missed start gate would place him in second, giving Will Asher a win one one of the biggest stages that had managed to always slip through his fingers. On the women's side, it was more of a business as usual feel with an added touch of Canadian, as Breanne Dodd finished 3rd at 1.5 buoys on the 11.25 line, France's Manon Costard placed second at 2 buoys on the 10.75 line as Radar Ski's first lady, Whitney McClintock, finished first for another Moomba Masters title at 4 buoys also on the 10.75 line.
Men's Trick felt like a winner stays on affair for the finals, with 2 finalists placing in their same respective positions as the 2015 event, Franck Desboyaux finishing in 3rd with a score of 10780, 10 points up from his score that placed him 3rd the year previous. In second was Russell Gay, scoring 10890 and in first was the man from Belarus, Aliaksei Zharnasek, finishing with a score of 11570, which finished under his score from the previous year, but at the end of the day I'm sure he's quite happy to go back to back. Women's shook things up a bit with Neilly Ross placing 3rd with a score of 8970, while Erika Lang finished in 2nd for the second year in a row, constantly pushing her claim at the top spot with a score of 9320, and tying a bow on the trick event was Anna Gay making it a family affair with first place at a score of 9920.
The Jump finals showed us once again why it is such a spectacular aspect of tournament waterskiing, as well as our love of thrill and it definitely didn't disappoint, with Zack Worden crossing himself up off the ramp and lucky not to end in the crowd. For the rankings, Great Britains Damien Sharman put himself in 3rd with a jump of 66.6 metres, while newly minted Nautique skier Ryan Dodd pushed against the tide of the Yarra to put himself in 2nd at 67.5 metres, looking the goods until Bojan Schipner took to the jump cracking a huge flight of 70.2 metres for the top of the podium. The women's side showed every bit as tough a competition, with a real shake up of athletes on the podium, Lauren Morgan finished in 3rd with a jump of 50.1 metres and Alex Lauretano, who didn't compete at Moomba in 2015 put herself into second, jumping 51.7 metres, and once again on top of the podium for i'm not even sure how many years anymore, i've stopped counting, was wing woman Jacinta Carroll with a jump of 54.2 metres.
The wakeboarding as always provided an area of contentious moves, we saw many tricks which the average bystanders can barely fathom, from Pete Roses to Harley's signature 900's and Mike Dowdy's game changing double flips. As the finals played out, Mike Dowdy looked comfortable after a stand up pass, in which he finally managed to stick his double flip in Moomba's finals, placing him firmly in the drivers seat, until Harley breezed through his traditional finals pass, ticking almost every box on the judges list. The real wild card of the competition was youngster Cory Tuenissen who came out of no where, whilst falling once in his pass, managing to make the podium providing an interesting standings of Mike Dowdy in 3rd, Cory Tuenissen in 2nd and Harley Clifford in 1st. The Women's provided something a little different, while the podium flew the colours of red, white and blue it was all American, as Erika Lang managed to place herself on the podium with an almost stand up pass, crossing from the trick podium and providing no reason to doubt her ability to handle both disciplines. For second Hyperlite's most marketable lady provided 2nd place, while Megan Ethell who is becoming a force to be reckoned with not just in women's wakeboarding, but wakeboarding in general with a dominant display to place in 1st.
Moomba 2016 definitely showed us, despite some downfalls (namely the inconsistent weather), why we love Melbourne and why it provides such an incredible display for one of the biggest watersports competitions the world round, from traditional competition, to wakeboarding and the ever favourite night events, which this year extended to a night slalom exhibition, providing more excitement than we get to see. With the competition providing one of the hottest contests yet, the Moomba Masters only 57 years young, looks set to provide ever growing competition, and plenty of excitement for the future, with more innovation coming through every year.
Written by Jesse Chiminello