5th World Freestyle Slalom Championships
Friday Oct. 21st, 2011 - Day 1: Battle first rounds in Geisingen, Germany
As a welcome gift, Nature decided to provide us with snow. Lots of snow. It was the day before the arrival of most of the competitors, and at one point we were a bit afraid that the weather would cause transportation problems. Hopefully everything turned out alright, and a big bright winter sun (did I say winter?) replaced the snow on the following day.
As years go by, the competition is growing: this year, 168 participants checked in – i.e. they are actually taking part, coming from 27 different countries!
The schedule is as following:
Day 1 – Battle pre-qualifications, first rounds, and second round of the men’s.
Day 2 – Speed slalom, Slides, Pair freestyle and Battle finals.
Day 3 – Classic Freestyle and slides.
Women’s Battle Pre-qualifications
• 17 women fought to try to get one of the 6 places still available to enter the First Round of the Battle competition. These 17 skaters were divided into five groups of 3 and one of 2. They had two runs to make the difference and only the girls ending up first of their groups would have the privilege to go through! It was a pitiless fight.
• The organization was pitiless too: the first group started at 8:00 AM and Maria Eggert (Ger, #36) was lucky that her two French opponents didn’t show up on time, and she was declared winner.
• Clémence Guicheteau (Fra, #41) avenged her French fellow skaters, Caroline Kerbrat (Fra, #135) and Océane Loutrein (Fra, #141), in qualifying in front of the two other girls of Group 4, Magdalena Mosiezny (Pol, #69) and Hannah Mansfield (Gbr, #202).
• A couple of other skaters didn’t show up: it is the case of the entire Group 3 – Miriam Kwasny (Ger, #42) being sick and Yu-Hsuan Huang (Tpe, #65) and Hsin-Chieh Lin (Tpe, #268) of Chinese Taipei not answering to the numerous calls of the MC.
• Carmen Plate (Ned, #144) arrived just at the end of the pre-qualification, a couple of minutes after that the 6th and last group, hers, was over: Sabina Ismailova (Ukr, #40), whose world ranking dropped this year as she didn’t do enough competitions, was technically a cut above Margaux Allet (Fra, #72) whose performance was clean and clear… but still Korean spins and super-low back Christies can’t save you from a 10-cone shift attack, not forgetting sevens and back wheelings.
• As for Chanya Mongkolchareonchok (Tha, #49) she was close to not being allowed to compete in Group 2, as she was still putting on her skates at the 3rd call of the MC. But the youngest of all the female competitors still made it on time and she won her group hands up, with a varied performance, knocking out Sofya Stavinova (Rus, #60) and Zoe Brealey (Gbr, #NR) who’s just recovered from a broken leg and has to climb up the world ranking all over again.
• Group 5 was the only group of 2, and it was led from the beginning by young Justyna Czapla (Pol, #50) who easily knocked out Marion Mühlenbäumer (Ger, #54) with combos such as [butterfly + toe wheeling] and [back crossed compass + heel-toe sidesurf + heel wheeling].
The five women going through to the First Round are (in Group order): Maria Eggert (Ger), Chanya Mongkolchareonchok (Tha), Clémence Guicheteau (Fra), Justyna Czapla (Pol), and Sabina Ismailova (Ukr).
Men’s Battle Pre-Qualifications
• The Men’s Battle Pre-qualifications followed immediately, at 9:00 AM.
They were 24 to hope for a qualification, divided into eight groups of three. The rules were the same as for the women: two runs and only the last one standing would get one of the 8 available places for the First Round.
Maybe because the time was more decent than for the women, there were only two men missing: Antonio Pires (Por) an old school Portuguese freestyler, and Ying-Ming Chen of Chinese Taipei.
• The rankings were quite easy to decide on the whole. No surprises as for the results: most of the time a more advanced skater was taking the lead in front of the two other men of the group, whose skating was still to basic to hope for qualification. But yet, don’t try to compare the results with the world ranking: some good skaters have missed a good bunch of competitions and their world ranking doesn’t reflect their real level.
• Great Britain did very well as three out of the five participating skaters qualified. And yet, one of the two knocked-out skaters, Mark Bullock (Gbr, #280) was eliminated by his Londoner friend Jon Bell (Gbr, #NR) in Group 3! Jacob Carias (Gbr, #132) and Issy Rahim (Gbr, #181) took the first places of Group 5 and 7. The overall level of Great Britain is improving and they seem to have found a real free-style of their own.
The 8 lucky skaters who got their ticket to the First Round are (in Group order): Tomasz Mroczek (Pol, #127), Savio Brivio (Ita, #188), Jon Bell (Gbr, #NR), Alexandre Del Marmol (Bel, #136), Jacob Carias (Gbr, #132), Dmitry Charugin (Lat, #NR), Issy Rahim (Gbr, #181), and Daniel Cacala (Svk, #673).
Battle First Rounds
Women’s Battle First Round
• The First Round of the Women’s battle was gathering 32 skaters: 26 were directly qualified, and the 6 other places were filled by the winners of the Pre-Qualification Groups. These 26 skaters are the 26 best ranked skaters coming to the competition. The rank of the last qualified is 33! They were but a few to miss it, amongst the absent ones being Yulia Kulagina (Rus). The upper-crust of the female freestylers are in the place!
• The first places could have been forecasted, but still this First Round has its share of surprises. Already!
First of all, the whole Chinese team who was not supposed to make it to the competition except for the 3 skaters over 18 (Guo Fang, Liao Jie and a slider), managed by some kind of miracle to get their visas yesterday, jumped on the first flight to Germany, and arrived at the competition on time for the battle.
• As a result the three Chinese girls took hold of the first places of their groups! Feng Hui (Chn, #9) leads Group 2 with combos as long as the little girl is small, made of butterflies, sevens, back wheelings, sewing machines and shifts! However this was kind of expected, but the real surprise was the fight for the second place between Svetlana Komissarzhevska (Ukr, #29) and Anya Ziertmann (Ger, #10) the German champion: the latter, being sick with a fever, didn’t manage her routines very well and the Ukrainian made the most of the situation in seizing the qualification!
• But the real freestyle monsters were still to come: Su Fei Qian (Chn, #4) crushes every girl of Group 4 on her way. Cristina Rotunno (Ita, #15) and Clémence Guicheteau (Fra, #41) cannot fight and are knocked out. Angelika Babiy (Rus, #23) holds on and gets the second place with a slower skating and less links but with one particular combo [front to back Christie + butterfly normal to switch + toe chicken leg] and a good toe footgun (“deck-chair”) on 7 cones. As for Su Fei Qian she is the kind of skater who will manage a back-front-back wheeling on 20 cones, repeated twice in a row, without even smiling to express she’s satisfied.
• The last Chinese monster is the well-known Chen Chen (Chn, #2): she doesn’t even need to manage a clean performance to win Group 8… The young Taiwanese of the pre-qualifications, Chanya Mongkolchareonchok (Tha, #49) may lack maturity but she knows enough about technique to beat her elders: Ksenja Komarchuk (Ukr, #17) and Piyapa Dechfoong (Tha, #21) painfully experienced it.
• All the first places went to the best-ranked skaters of the groups, except in Group 3 where Zoe Granjon (Fra, #5), the favorite, was passed by Sabina Ismailova (Ukr, #40) and by Kristina Lysenko (Rus, #24): Sabina was a cut above the rest, with efficient combos like [butterfly + chicken leg] or [cobra + heel seven], but also varied and mastered technical tricks (shifts, sevens, spins and sitting tricks); and Kristina, despite a lack of linking, had still longer and harder tricks than Zoe, whose performance was less convincing than usual. In that very group was also the Americano-Belgian Megan McIntosh (Usa, #13) who, just as her friend Natalie Ujuk (Aus, #20), might be relegated at the 4th place but should be proud of her stylish and catchy performance.
• The other groups unfold as expected: Polina Semenova (Rus, #3) wins Group 5 with very convincing combos such as [shift + front to back heel wheeling] and [heel day-night + ten external sevens]. She is followed by Angelika Prucnal (Pol, #22), who knocks out Sara Barlocco (Ita, #16).
Klaudia Hartmanis’s (Pol, #6) lively performance is rewarded by the first place of Group 6, in front of Chiara Lualdi (Ita, #12) – Ewelina Czapla (Pol, #26) and Maria Eggert (Ger, #36) end up here.
Barbara Bossi (Ita, #7) takes the lead of Group 7 together with Paulina Czapla (Pol, #33), eliminating Pichaya Pinyojarassang (Tha, #11) and Christina Pers (Esp, #28).
Men’s Battle First Round
• The first round was made of 16 groups of 4, 56 skaters being directly qualified and the 8 remaining places going to the firsts of the pre-qualification groups. The 56th and last qualified is 124th at the world ranking. 36 skaters out of the world Top-50 are there.
• Just like for the women’s, the men’s first round reveals a couple of surprises. It’s not about the leaders of each group, but about the knocked out. Some very good freestylers, better known for their feeling of style than for their technique, such as Tim Schraepen (Bel, #46) and Jon Bell (Gbr, #NR), still used to go through a couple of rounds, are eliminated from the very beginning. Tim finds himself in Group 1 together with Kim Sung Jin (Kor, #1) who leads, and Viacheslav Syniushko (Ukr, #44) who gets the second place; while Jon is knocked out by Martin Sloboda (Ger, #4) and Kantachart Sawangsri (Tha, #38) in Group 8.
Other skaters who usually happen to last longer too, particularly Kirill ‘ReKiL’ Ryazantsev (Rus, #36) and Florian Schneider (Ger, #83), are defeated as soon as this First Round. Liao Jie (Chn, #7) didn’t let the chance of getting the first place of Group 12 to his opponents, of which ReKiL was part, together with Jacob Carias (Gbr, #132) and Boris Rozbroj (Fra, #53). The latter managed to get out while the going is good and go through! As for Florian, he was dead before Group 2 started… finding himself with Pan Yu Shuo (Chn, #89) and Zhan Hao (Chn, #22), both mastering wheeling footgun (“deck-chair”) and managing over-long killing wheeling combos – Pan Yu Shuo stabs his opponents for good with his wheeling Christie (2 cones). But Florian is not the only one to suffer from the Chinese domination: the second knocked out is none other than… Antonio Castro (Esp, #20), one of the three Spanish leaders: even his 17-cone toe seven was not enough to save him…
• There were also a couple of difficult choices as for the first and second places, where the judges voted two to one. It was the case for Group 11 where Denis ‘Disa’ Islamov (Rus, #29) got the first place in front of Romain Lebois (Fra, #14), and for Group 15 where Yu Jin Seong (Kor, #23) was relegated at the second place behind Ye Hao Qin (Chn, #19).
Men’s Battle Second Round
• The Chinese take over the charts, ending up first in 5 of the 8 groups of the Second Round! In Group 1 Zhang Hao (Chn, #22) defeats Kim Sung Jin (Kor, #1) especially with a 14-cone deck-chair, which wins over KSJ’s 60-cone back heel wheeling. Viktor ‘Generator’ Meleshkevich (Rus, #32) is caught in the fight and doesn’t get over it.
In Group 2 Lan Wang Heng (Chn, #12) ends up first hands up, and Pan Yu Shuo (Chn, #89) follows him after having eliminated Adrian Almazan (Esp, #11) during a pitiless Best Trick fight: The Chinese wins with a 17-cone deck-chair – he was allowed to add cones on the 120s for the occasion, versus Adrian’s [20-cone heel shift to front-back heel wheeling 6x6].
Guo Fang (Chn, #5) masters Group 3 with a better overall trick level – you should see his seven combos: front / back / left / right, just ask and he’ll do it! Alexandre Claris (Fra, #16) seizes the second place in front of young Kanchanok Sawangsri (Tha, #27) – who outruns his big brother Kantachart (Tha, #38) in this very group. Both have very mastered and finished combos and show varied tricks, but Alexandre has a major advantage: he’s got links, whereas Kanchanok thought he would save time in not doing links to do more technique…
Group 6 is also led by a Chinese: Liao Jie (Chn, #7) is far above his opponents. Hervé Guillou (Fra, #40) and Yury Torlopov (Rus, #26) are outdistanced by Denis ‘Disa’ Islamov (Rus, #29).
In Group 8 Yu-Ping Huang and Luca Ulivieri witness Pu Hao Yang (Chn, #2) and Ye Hao Qin (Chn, #19) fighting for the first place, and flying to another freestyle galaxy: YHQ does 14-cone deck-chair missing 2 cones, PHY managed it perfectly; YHQ bids higher with a 4-cone toe Christie (yes indeed), PHY takes up the challenge with a 3-cone deck-chair seven!! Pu Hao Yang, slightly in front of Ye Hao Qin wins the fight. But the battle is not over yet...
• In the three group which were not seized by the Chinese – probably because there were no Chinese in those groups – Martin Sloboda (Ger, #4) ends up in front of Andrey Shitov (Rus, #17) in Group 4 not thanks to his technique but to his smoothness, and they both get rid of Alex Shulhan (Brs, #37). Jon Larrucea (Esp, #3) gets the first place of Group 5 with merits thanks to his variety in highly technical tricks. Romain Lebois (Fra, #14) follows, outrunning Do Ji Hwan (Kor, #18), because despite his lack of linking, his rate of success on both runs is better and he show more variety. And last but not least, Group 7 is won by Yu Jin Seong (Kor, #23): It was a close fight for the first place with Igor Cheremetieff (Fra, #13), and it was unfortunately at the expanse of Clarence Cheug (Sin, #9) who ends up 3rd.
Chinese translation of the 1st article
Day 2 of WFSC in geisingen, Part I, Speed Slalom, Chinese version
Day 2 of WFSC in geisingen, Part II, Pair Style Slalom, Chinese version
Part III of Day 2, Battle Final of WFSC in Geisingen (Chinese version)
Day 3 of WFSC in Geisingen, Classic Slalom & Style Slides, Chinese version (Chinese version)
Last chapter - Epilogue of WFSC (chinese version)