With the World Waterski Open, Austria’s most successful water skier, Britta Grebe-Llewellyn, once again brought the international elite of the action-packed water sport to Upper Austria. On August 7 and 8, some of the best of their guild competed in Fischlham in the disciplines slalom, trick and jump. The event was organised for the second time by Britta Grebe and her husband, the multiple world champion and world record holder Jaret Llewellyn. Their son Dorien took part again, who is currently the world’s number two in the Overall. He also showed the strongest nerves and reclaimed the WWS Austrian Open title back to back. In the women’s event, the defending champion from 2020, Giannina Bonnemann, also took the victory.
With her ten European Championship titles (in a row) two World Championship titles and four world records, Britta Grebe-Llewellyn was one of the most successful water skiers in the world. Although the native of Gmunden, who has now lived in Florida for 36 years, no longer actively participates in competitions herself, she now shares her experience in athlete management and event organisation.
The athletes had to prove their skills in the disciplines slalom, trick, and jump. The winner of these three water ski disciplines combined is considered the absolute “King/Queen” of waterskiing. Besides Britta Grebe’s son, the 26-year-old Dorien Llewellyn (skis for Canada), Carlo Basic from Austria, Robert Hazelwood from Great Britain, Pol Duplan-Fribourg from France, as well as the German sisters Giannina and Carlotta Bonnemann and the Italian Alice Bagnoli fought for prize money and the podium.
Right from the start, the high quality of the small, but fine starting field was evident. Already on the first day of
competition both the women and men showed world-class form and delivered top performances, although the jump competition could not be held on Saturday due to the strong winds. Dorien Llewellyn came out showing he was not here to play, scoring the highest points of all in both trick and slalom. In tough conditions, the big upset was Robert going down on the 11.25m line. This is Robert’s strongest event of the three, so he would have to regroup for Sunday’s finals. In the trick discipline, Dorien was able to live up to his role in being the favorite, posting a 10500 ahead of Robert’s 9090, Pol’s 8080, and Carlo’s 6800.
In womens’ slalom the older of the Bonnemann sisters, Giannina, had the better start ahead of the Italian Alice Bagnoli and Carlotta Bonnemann and took this momentum into Sunday.
With cooler temperatures on Sunday, the athletes had to give it their all on the final day. Alice came out in the finals in slalom and prevented Giannina from potentially claiming a clean sweep. Alice posts a 3.5 at 11.25, half a buoy better than Giannina score of 3. Traditionally, the jump event is the last event of the day, but warnings of rain later threaten the jump, so the organisers decided to flip the events because of safety for the athletes. Giannina dominated the jump event with 52m, but a real race for second and third was building. Alice (1,710.98) ahead of Charlotta (1,642.18). Charlotta stood up both her runs putting pressure on Alice. Alice proved on Saturday that she has a big hand run in her bag, but shocked the crowd when she went down on a flip during the final pass, costing her the second podium spot.
Giannina ranked second in the World in Overall was overjoyed about her victory in Fischlham: “The competition was just great again, to have an overall event with all three disciplines is what we train for. For me it went extremely well, I was able to dial up my performances from yesterday. In the trick event, I was able to go one better and set a new course trick record of 10,180 points, which really made it perfect.” Giannina took the Overall Crown with 2978.26 points, Carlotta claimed silver with 2160.85, ahead of Alice’s 2092.12.
In the men’s finals, tables turned on Dorien right out of the gates in the slalom event. Robert Hazelwood posted a huge slalom score of 1 @ 41off, a full pass more than Dorien’s top score from the primary round. This is Robert’s strongest of the 3 disciplines and Dorien’s weaker of the three. Dorien said, “my game plan was to stay as close to Robert’s slalom score as possible.” Dorien, unfortunately, went down earlier than expected and trailed Robert by 8.5 buoys (firstname.lastname@example.org). Robert claimed the 1000pts for the tops score and Dorien was awarded 845.45. Pol was only 2.5 buoys (email@example.com) behind Dorien and was awarded 800pts, with Carlo is 4 buoys (4@12m) off Pol with a score of 727.27.
Onto the Jump, with the weather conditions holding favourable. Pol posted a 56.1m, next up Carlo with a 59.9m, and Robert tops that with a 60.0m jump. Dorien last out knew he had to gain ground back on Robert after trailing in slalom. Dorien unleashed 65.1 on his final jump and the Two-way battle is underway with Robert 1,872.82 and Dorien 1,845.45 neck and neck, as well as Carlo 1,597.59 and Pol 1,575.56 battling for 3rd and 4thspot.
Finally, in tricks Carlo stood up his two passes, scoring 7,100 a new personal best. Pol’s prelim run was 8080 so enough to pull farther ahead of Carlo, but unfortunately, Pol went down on his opening trick which ended all hopes of staying ahead of Carlo. Robert stomped his two passes claiming a score of 9880pt putting enormous pressure on Dorien to score a minimum of 10200. Dorien answered back with 11060, just short of the course record he set last year at the Austrian Nationals 11160pt. “I am so happy with my victory here at Lake Plana. Especially because I really spent a large part of my “water skiing childhood” here and I have such fond memories of this lake. I am very happy with my performance, it was so exciting and then I had to put all my eggs in one basket,” says Grebe’s son, delighted with the successful title defence in his second home.