Dorien Llewellyn jumping at the 2021 IWWF World Championships

Records Beware! We Preview the 2023 IWWF World Championships

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Records Beware! We preview the 2023 IWWF World Championships

Dorien Llewellyn jumping at the 2021 IWWF World Championships

Dorien Llewellyn jumping at the 2021 IWWF World Championships (image: @waterskination)

By Jack Burden


Get ready for an electrifying showdown at the 2023 IWWF World Championships! The world’s top waterskiing athletes are gearing up for an epic battle at the picturesque Sunset Lakes in Lake County, Florida. This marks the second consecutive time this venue has hosted the World Championships, and expectations are sky-high. To put things into perspective, the last time this event graced these waters, seven world championship tournament records were broken, setting the stage for a spectacular display of skill and athleticism.

Slalom

In the women’s slalom event, all eyes are on Regina Jaquess, who’s in pursuit of her fifth world title. She’s fresh off setting a new pending world record and finished as the runner-up in the last two World Championships. A gold medal here would not only surpass Helena Kjellander as the most decorated women’s slalom skier but would also equal Liz Allan’s record of 11 gold medals, the most in the sport. Jaquess faces strong competition from defending champion and Waterski Pro Tour leader Jaimee Bull, her long-time rival Whitney McClintock Rini, and the rising star of 2023, Allie Nicholson, any of whom could emerge victorious.

In the men’s slalom event, only five men have won more than one title in the over 70-year history of the World Championships. This is largely due to the nearly three decades of dominance by Bob LaPoint and Andy Mapple. In 2023, we are fortunate to have the other three repeat champions, namely Nate Smith, Will Asher, and Thomas Degasperi, all competing. Despite the challenging competition, Nate Smith is the favorite to secure his fourth world title, with Asher and former champion Freddie Winter in close pursuit.

Tricks

The most cutthroat of the three disciplines, tricks is the hardest event to predict even when the conditions are favorable. On the women’s side, another thrilling battle is expected among Erika Lang, Anna Gay, and Neilly Ross. Lang had a remarkable run earlier in the year, winning three consecutive professional events and extending her own world record. However, her focus has shifted to wakeboarding over summer, leaving her current form uncertain. On the other hand, Gay is chasing her fourth world title, which would draw her level with Tawn Larsen Hahn for the most ever in women’s tricks. Ross and Gianninna Bonnemann Mechler are also strong contenders.

In the men’s tricks event, any one of about 10 competitors could clinch the gold. What we can expect is for the podium to have a strong Latin American presence, with Mexico’s Pato Font, the world record holder, seeking his second world title, and Chileans Mati Gonzalez and Martin Labra displaying impressive recent form. European skiers Joel Poland and Louis Duplan-Fribourg have also been tricking over 12k with regularity and will look to push the Latin Americans.

Jump

With the absence of Jacinta Carroll, who has won the last five World Championships, we’re guaranteed to see a first-time champion in the women’s jump event. While there has been plenty of controversy in the buildup over the eligibility of Russian and Belarusian athletes, there should be no controversy over who the outright favorite is – Hanna Straltsova, who has won five out of six professional events she has entered this season and whose recent personal best of 58.6 meters (192 feet) is the biggest jump by a woman since Carroll at the 2022 Moomba Masters.

Since 1995, no one not named Llewellyn, Krueger, or Dodd has won men’s jump at the World Championships, making these three skiers the most decorated in the history of the event. With the old guard of Krueger and Dodd still producing winning performances, we could well see this era of dominance continue for one more year. However, Krueger at 48 years old is showing signs of slowing down and Dodd, who turns 40 next year, has been battling injuries in the last few seasons. Look for young challengers Jack Critchley, Taylor Garcia, and Joel Poland to try and break into the winner’s circle.

Overall

Undefeated all season on the WWS Overall Tour and knocking on the door of the world record, Gianninna Bonnemann Mechler is undoubtedly the favorite to take home her first world overall title. Expect stiff competition from top ranked Hanna Straltsova, defending champion Sasha Danishueskaya, young up-and-comer Paige Rini, and five-time world overall champion Regina Jaquess.

Similarly, the current world record holder and defending champion Joel Poland has come off an undefeated season on the WWS Overall Tour. He will look to be the first skier to go back-to-back since Jimmy Siemers in 2003/2005. Hot on his heels will be 2023’s break-out star in men’s overall, Louis Duplan-Fribourg, whose recent form in the jump event has lifted his overall scores to new levels. The dark horse will be Dorien Llewellyn, who has been absent since an ankle injury sustained at the LA Nite Jam back in June but is making a late charge for the World Championships. If Llewellyn can regain his previous form with a limited run-up, look for him to push Poland hard throughout the Championships.

Teams

Defending champions Canada will aim to secure their third consecutive title, and much of their chances will hinge on Llewellyn’s recovery, as they depend on him for scores in all three events. The United States, with Regina Jaquess returning from injury and competing in all three events, will be formidable contenders. France and Great Britain, building teams around their own overall superstars, will be determined to upset the North Americans. The stage is set for an intense battle for the World Championships title.

The World Championships run from October 10-15 and will be broadcast live on TWBC.

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Travis Anderson
7 months ago

Looking forward to this tournament. There’s going to be some great performances and maybe a few surprises. I think if the French team skis up to their potential, that they can sneak up on Canada and USA.