2019 Moomba Masters – Finals Wrap Up
Another Moomba has come and gone. The 2019 Moomba Masters International Invitational was filled with outstanding skiing, shocking upsets and the same magical flair we have come to expect from the Yarra.
Let’s begin with slalom. On the women’s side of the action, there was very little doubt surrounding the superb form of Whitney McClintock-Rini (CAN) and her potential to win the event. Whitney showed a cool head to go along with her red-hot skiing, comfortably slaloming her way to the Moomba title, finishing with the three largest scores of the weekend. Manon Costard (FRA) skied consistently and claimed second in all 3 rounds, while Siani Oliver (AUS) finished 3rd as somewhat of an underdog. She started out a little slow but brought the heat when it counted, peaking in the finals and securing the bronze in front of the home crowd.
The men’s action seemed to be heading in a very familiar direction as well, with Nate Smith (USA) coming off the dock top seed in the finals. Thomas Degasperi (ITA) posted an impressive 2 at 10.25 meters. Nate was unable to beat the score outright, but rather tied Thomas and sent the finals to a runoff. T-Gas was the first skier on the water and after watching the other competitors fail to eclipse his finals score half an hour, he found the conditions too difficult to run 10.75 cold off the dock. He finished with a score of 1.5 at 10.75 and seemed to leave no doubt that Nate would simply round 2 at 10.75 to claim an easy victory. Yet, to the major surprise of the crow, Nate fell around 1 ball and Degasperi was once again a Moomba champion. All so close was hometown hero Joel Howley (AUS), posting a 1.5 at 10.25 to take 3rd. The Men’s action proved to be extremely close, with the river once again showing all the skiers who is really in charge on the Yarra.
In tricks, Anna Gay (USA) and Neilly Ross (CAN) continued their back and forth rivalry which has persisted for the last couple of years. Anna claimed the first round, with Neilly turning in the first score above 10,000 points of the event to take round two. But it was Anna who would have the last laugh in this one, peaking little by little each round to finish with a score of 10,040 in the finals. World Record Holder Erika Lang (USA) would round out the top 3 with impressive scores, but off her normal pace just enough to give the two prodigies the edge. Erika had an impressive 2nd place finish in the wakeboard event, undoubtedly an extremely hard situation, switching between events during the course of a season, let alone in the same competition, but Erika handled it superbly.
In the men’s event, Martin Kolman (CZE) and Patricio Font (MEX) shared a similar back and forth nature each round. Kolman narrowly took round one, while Pato showed great consistency with back to back 11,200 point scores and was the leader heading into the finals, with Dorien Llewellyn (CAN) maintaining a hold on the third and final podium spot each round. In the finals, Llewellyn and Kolman each crushed their respective runs, tricking 10,090 and 10940 respectively. With the potential to win so close, yet so far, Pato began to feel the unrelenting presence of the Yarra and described his toe pass as “rolling down a hill, getting faster and faster as I went on”. He sucked an edge on a Toe 5 front, knocking himself out of the title race and earning an invite the US Maters. In the end, Kolman, Dorien, and Russell Gay (USA) were the three to receive trophies on the Moomba podium. Jaret Llewellyn (CAN) made his return to the river after a 9 years absence from the Yarra. He seemed to be back, healthy and very comfortable, placing 4th with a 9100, setting history with a father and son in the same professional final. Time will tell if the sporting world will ever see a father and son, or mother and daughter standing on a podium together.
Once again, the little powerhouse from Australia, Jacinta Carroll, aka – Rabbit, took home the women’s Moomba jump crown with a 56m jump. This should not be taken so lightly, as it is Jacinta’s 6th Moomba title in a row and she continues her winning streak on the professional circuit. Jacinta is continuing to prove that when the dust settles, she very well could go down as one of the top phenoms in all of professional sports. Lauren Morgan (USA) and Giannina Bonnemann (GER) blatted for the second spot. Giannina set the pace with an impressive 50.4m jump, but Lauren answered back on her last attempt with a 51.9m to take 2nd.
No one can be confident when it comes to the Yarra, but if anyone looked at ease it was Freddy Krueger (USA) in men’s jump. With the absence of defending champ Ryan Dodd (CAN), patiently awaiting the birth of his first child at home in Orlando, Florida, nobody was able to unthrone Freddy. Coming out in the 1st round, Freddy soared with a smooth 67m jump. The battle for second was fierce and the pace-maker in the finals was Rodrigo Miranda (CHI), who qualified in the 11th spot. Rodrigo nailed a 65.7m on his 1st attempt, but could not find the same timing on his final two attempts. Young gun Taylor Garcia (USA) looked rather impressive, not only taking home the Sunday Night Jump heat win over Freddy but by finishing with a 65.1m jump in the finals. Igor Morozov (RUS) consistency landed just shy of Rodrigo with a 65.3m, seemingly missing just a touch of kick-off of the ramp on each jump. Knowing what he needed to do, Freddy picked a consistent line towards the ramp and demonstrated his amazing spring ability, comfortable flying to a 66.3m opening jump.
With the sun setting, the top 6-night jumpers came back out to for one more chance at Moomba Glory. The jumpers battled to make the 1st cut, with 3 jumpers left standing. Igor, Freddy, and Taylor all posted jumps bigger than 62.7m and earned the privilege for yet another round on the river. With 2 jumps in the 2nd round, Igor leads off with a 62.6m jump. Having to watch patiently from the dock, Igor exclaimed, “It’s not as big a jump as I wanted, but you never know what could happen here on the Yarra, it might just be enough”. Garcia stepped up and claimed the first finals spot with a huge 64.5m, showing poise beyond his years. With Igor still hoping for a chance at the title, Freddy extinguished all hope with a 65.6m jump, once again finishing top seed. The final round would be determined by a one jump, head to head jump off. Taylor, knowing he would have to find something special to take down Freddy “the Nightmare” Krueger, nailed a 62.3m jump. While the jump was by no means his farthest, the distance was far enough for any jumper to realized that they need to bring forth their very best with only one chance at glory. But, once again, Freddy was dialed in and unleashed a 65.7m jump, the longest of the night, to wrap up this story.
2019 Moomba Masters – Prelims Wrap Up
The preliminary round… Some believe it to be a free round, yet all feel the nerves of the first round of the Moomba Masters. After spending most of the year on pristine lakes with optimal conditions, the first set back on the Yarra can be a rude awakening to many and unfortunately can leave the long trip over with a great sense of disappointment.
As always, the Yarra river has awakened to claim its first few victims. Among the most notable upsets, Jonathan Travers, Whitney McClintock-Rini, and Aliaksei “Ace” Zharnasek. The river decided to once again remind the ski world why Moomba is an impossible tournament to master. Jon seemed to be in fine shape heading into 3 ball at 11.25 meters, when the river reached up to drive his fin out of the water. Whitney showed her usual dominant self in slalom, finishing top seed in the first round, but surprisingly failed to qualify in tricks, landing heavy on her half-twist to blind and taking a hard fall. Ace, on the other hand, experienced a one in a million accident, with his back binding ripping off the tail of his ski on his first two flips, causing him to loose control mid trick on his second flip. All three of their performances will be missed, but the show goes on.
There were many notable performances on the first two days of competition this year. Robert “Pig” Pigozzi surprised many by tying the course record of 3 at 10.25 meters on his very first set on the Yarra river, a feat never previously accomplished by any first timer. Pigozzi’s new equal course record did not last long though, as Will Asher of Great Britain took to the water only a few skiers later and smashed the record with an incredible score of 5 at 10.25 meters. Pato Font and Martin Kolman put on a clinic in Men’s tricks, both tricking above 11,000 points, with Pato sitting only 200 points behind the leading Kolman. Freddy Krueger sent a message to the rest of the field that Ryan Dodd’s Moomba title is his for the taking, but as always, nothing can be taken for granted on the river.
On the women’s side of things, hometown hero Jacinta Carroll is looking to break Deena Mapple’s consecutive professional event wins record of 39, closing in with 35 jump titles in a row. She once again, looked to be in a league of her own when the jump event begins. Neilly Ross and Anna Gay made their return to the river, finishing 1st and 2nd respectively after the first round, Neilly taking the lead with 10,220 points. As mentioned, Whitney McClintock-Rini heads into the semi-finals day ahead of Manon Costard and the rest of the women’s slalom field as the defending champion.
As is customary, the junior awards were given out after the preliminary round of Open. Many juniors skied exceptionally well, but Sade Ferguson showed why she is a potential Overall super star in the making. She posted great scores in each event, taking home the junior title in Slalom, Jump, and Overall. Pato Font, not only tricked a course record on the river with 11,200 points, but also set a new junior world record with said score, which he immediately broke in the Open division with 11,240 points.
Bring on 2019! Moomba kicks off the season.
The professional water ski season is set to kick off with the Moomba Masters this weekend. The world’s best skiers are all making the journey to one of water skiing’s most sacred grounds. The Yarra River means so many things to everyone who has either competed or had the privilege to watch this water sports spectacle. Located right in the middle of downtown Melbourne, the Moomba Masters is part of the larger parent event, the Moomba Festival, drawing hundreds of thousands of people down into the heart of the city.
As always, the conditions at Moomba are tricky. Not only does the timing of the event cause many skiers to feel underprepared, many areas still experiencing the harsh cold of winter slowly turning to spring, but the river itself holds many surprises for rookies and veterans alike. It has often been said that the moment any skier believes to have figured out how to ski at Moomba is precisely when the river, in all her glory, transforms, to ensure no skier ever has domain over her. The winner at Moomba is the skier who is able to perform in unison with the river, or perhaps it is the river itself that chooses the winner.
On the men’s side of the action, Nate Smith is the only defending champion to return to the Yarra in 2019, hoping to once again fend off the talents of Freddie Winter, Benjamin Stadlbauer, last year’s second place finisher, and many more. Nevertheless, the field is as talented as ever. In the trick event, world record holder Aliaksei Zharnasek looking to reclaim his title after a disappointing final last year and world number 1, Martin Kolman, hoping to make his mark on the Moomba Masters. Pato Font, coming off a win at the PanAm championships in November, is gunning for his first professional title and has been in stellar form as of late. Notable veterans making their return to the river are Russel Gay and Jaret Llewellyn, hoping to show the crowd some old school magic. The Jump event will feature the American counterpart to the ever increasingly two-man rivalry of Freddy Krueger and Ryan Dodd, with Ryan remaining in Florida in expectation of the arrival of his first child. Things will still be challenging for Freddy, as the likes of Igor Morozov, Taylor Garcia, and the Miranda clan will all be vying for reign of the river at Moomba.
When it comes to the women’s events at Moomba, eyes will always be on Australian, Jacinta Caroll, as she continues to dominate the world of women’s jump and will also, once again, compete against the men in the night jump semifinals, a can’t miss event. Trick champion Erika Lang will have her hands full this year as the prodigies Anna Gay and Neilly Ross make their return to the river after a one year hiatus, with Giannina Bonneman, Whitney McClintock, and Paige Rini rounding out what will make for an extremely exciting trick event. Finally, after a strong showing in 2018, winning multiple professional events such as the Masters, Mannon Costard will certainly give Whitney McClintock, who has been continually dominant on the Yarra for years, a serious run for the Moomba crown.
With all this and so much more on display over the course of the long weekend, you won’t want to miss any of the action.