2021 WWS American Open Recap

As the 2021 Overall professional season comes to an end, the final battle did not disappoint. 5 of the Best Men’s Overall skiers in the world faced off in what proved to be a challenging weekend. While the Ski Club of the Palm Beaches at Okeeheelee Park is typically known as one of the premier sites in the world, having hosted multiple World Championships of different levels, heavy rain on Friday for official practice, followed by extreme wind conditions throughout the tournament made for a difficult weekend of skiing. Nevertheless, Joel Poland, Dorien Llewellyn, Rob Hazelwood, Edoardo Marenzi, and Martin Kolman put forth their best to take home the American Open Crown.

In the end, Great Britain’s Joel Poland completed the Overall sweep, placing 1st in all three individual events en-route taking home the grand prize of Overall Champion. Close on his heels was Canada’s Dorien Llewellyn, who narrowly finished second in each individual event, coming up just short to claim 2nd in Overall. Also from Great Britain, Rob Hazelwood rounded out the podium as the 3rd place finisher in Overall, having exhibited an uncharacteristic fall in slalom, finishing 3rd, while also taking the 3rd place in Trick, and finishing 5th in Jump. Italy’s Edoardo Marenzi, an event dark horse, finished 4th in Overall and finally in 5th was Martin Kolman from the Czech Republic, who had an early fall in tricks and was never able to recover after.

The one-round final began Sunday with the trick event in strong winds between 15 and 20mph. Each tricker was forced to play strategy in terms of which run, to begin with, toes in the stiff headwind surprisingly being the preferred option for every skier but Hazelwood. When asked why he started with toes, Dorien Llewellyn said, “I would typically only do toes in a tailwind, but I was worried the wind chop would make flips really difficult. Also, I saw that the headwind made ski lines really draining for Rob at the end of his run, so I decided the tailwind for hands was more important.” In the end, Joel’s high-powered runs were enough to take the lead coming out of tricks, finishing with a score of 11220 points. Dorien was just behind with a score of 11010, followed by Rob’s 9310, Edoardo’s 7830, and Kolamn’s 6450.

After a set of recap interviews following the Trick event, the Slalom event started with improving conditions, but deceptively strong winds were still in effect once each skier began to round the buoys. Edoardo looked to be running 11.25, until biting off a little too much at 5 and finishing with 4.5@11.25. Kolman decided to take a risk and position himself for an 11.25 tailwind, knowing he had much ground to cover after tricks. Unfortunately, the gamble did not pay off, as he ended up inside 5 and finished with 4@11.25. Joel Poland finished his set and stated, “It looks pretty nice from here and the lake still skis well, but man the wind did not make things easy. When I pulled out for my gate at 39 the wind just kept pushing me.” All the skiers shared Poland’s sentiments, only realizing just how difficult the conditions were when skiing through their first passes. Joel took the lead in the event with 2@10.75m, with Hazelwood and Dorien still left to ski. Knowing slalom was his strongest event, Rob was prepared to take the risk of running 11.25 in the tailwind, masterfully powering through the pass to set up at 10.75 in the headwind, which no other skier had been able to do. Unfortunately, Rob’s fin skipped out of the water at the first buoy, and he finished with a score of 0.5@10.75. Finally, Dorien decided to play the long game in Overall and match Joel’s 11.25 headwind pass. Having run 11.25, Dorien ran 1@10.75 in the tailwind, visibly disappointed that he had just let a great opportunity to gain points back on Joel on the table, but knowing he was still very much within striking distance for jump.

Finally, the Jump event experienced high-performance weather, with a beautiful headwind rolling down the lake just as the sun began setting. Despite the great wind, long distances were difficult to come by at Okeeheelee. Edoardo began the final discipline with an impressive 59.5m jump, followed by Martin Kolman’s 60.7. Joel took to the water next and began his set with two underwhelming jumps, slipping on both, leaving all the pressure on his third and final attempt. Seemingly pulling off a great jump, Joel looked disappointed with his 62.7m score, having become accustomed to seeing higher scores on the leaderboard. As the sun began to set behind the West Palm Beach trees, Rob Hazelwood could not find his footing on the ramp, slightly slipping on all three jumps to finish with a 58.1m leap. Then, with the sun almost completely out of view, Dorien Llewellyn took to the water with high hopes of capturing the American Open title with a 64m jump. Joel Poland looked on as Dorien opened his set with a 61.7m score, looking poised for more. But it was not to be, as Dorien followed up with back-to-back 62.2m jumps, and the Overall title was signed, sealed, and delivered to Great Britain’s Joel Poland.

That wraps up the 2021 Overall Season! We would like to extend a BIG thank you to our sponsors and donors, we truly appreciate your passion to step up and back our vision in order to help the sport as a whole. Even though it is the off-season, there will be no resting. Bigger and Better is just around the corner for 2022. WorldWaterSkiers is excited to expand the “World Of Overall” to more events and open the door to new locations, which will be announced soon. So, stay tuned and be ready for more nail-biting action with the kickoff the WWS World Overall Tour.

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