Final report on the 2011 World Slalom Series
The WSS still on their crusade
With 76 competitions on the clock dispatched on every continent, the 2011 World Slalom Series break last year’s the record, which was of (only) 68. 23 countries embraced their cause, just like last year already.
They are present on the five continents, enabling participants of 45 different nationalities to take part in the adventure.
Today, national series have been implemented in 10 countries: Europe particularly played along (France, Germany, Spain, the UK, Italy and Poland), Thailand followed, as well as USA and South America with Argentina and Brazil!
The events are not the only ones to grow: the number of slalom skaters has been impressively increasing since the creation of the World Slalom Series in 2008: This year will have counted 926 freestylers and 824 speed slalom skaters for men, as well as 328 freestylers and 311 speed slalom skaters for women – i.e. about the same numbers for the two specialties.
Freestyle continues its growth. The number of men is in constant progression with +25% each year.
For the Women, the attendance rate is inconsistent: after having nearly doubled between 2008 and 2009, the booming ran out of steam (but without going down) in 2010, and went on again with new vigor in 2011 with +31,2% of new recruits.
But the most impressive progression goes to speed slalom which, until last year, was in the background and gathered one third less competitors than freestyle: In speed, figures show boomings of +67,1% for men and +82,9 (!) for women, as well as a doubled attendance rate to speed slalom competitions (+53,2%)!
The final ranking of the 2011 season of freestyle and speed slalom is online: http://www.worldslalomseries.com/rankings/
Freestyle: Men’s Category
1 – KSJ (KOR). Korean Kim Sung Jin manages the feat of ending up the year at the world’s first place for the second season in a row. That’s the first time that a male freestyler achieves this performance.
KSJ won lots of competitions this year, including the most importants in Moscow, Paris, London (European Championships), Shanghai as well as the World Title in Freestyle Classic in Germany. He has thus the maximum points for the season. He also breaks the record of longevity at the world’s first place since 2008, the first season of the WSS: 18 months in total – previously held by German Martin Sloboda (13 months).
Express Interview with Kim Sung Jin:
What do you think about your performances in 2011?
KSJ: If I had tried to improve myself for Battle Freestyle in 2010, I think I tried to improve myself for Classic Freestyle in 2011. Actually, it seemed that I was not that interested in Classic in 2010 because I’d had so many titles in Classic before (or maybe it was also because I may have thought I hadn’t had enough titles in Battle yet at that time :S).
However, I changed my mind after WFSC in 2010 and I made a decision to show my originality, diversity, difference and so on for Classic at the beginning of the 2011 season. From Russia to WFSC, I did some bad performances like in the PSWC, Nam-won, Barcelona and London but I also managed some good performances like in Russia, Shanghai, WFSC and at the Korean National. To be honest, I’m not satisfied with the results but I accept them because most of them come from my wrong decision and laziness (or because I was too bumptious?!) so I cannot complain xDDD
If I choose the best & worst performances in 2011, the best will be Shanghai and the worst will be Barcelona. If you ask me why, you can see easily when you watch the videos on Youtube :S In Barcelona, even though it was not a main event level, I couldn’t enjoy the event enough. In fact, the competition area was good because there was a roof to protect from the sun and there was a beach to chill out just 30 meters from the competition area, but I didn’t have the chance to show my performances in good conditions because the schedule was too long for me (My turn for Classic run was the last of the lasts of the competition ), so I had to wait, wait and wait for my turn from early morning until 10PM :S (Maybe other skaters also have experienced the same in another competition @_@) This is my only excuse, but I’m sorry about my bad performance if someone was waiting for my run very much!!!
About Shanghai Grand Prix, it was the first time that I didn’t hit any cones in competitions! In addition to this, I haven’t done well in Shanghai since 2008, but I finally won Shanghai Just before Shanghai, I didn’t do well that much with the same program in London because I took it as a rehearsal for Shanghai Grand Prix so that I could feel less pressure, but it made me not trying my best in London. In conclusion, my result wasn’t good because of my wrong decision, and I missed the chance to end up at the 1st place with 1 program (‘Shock’ by Beast) as well. Nevertheless, it’s okay because I could try my best and feel more satisfaction in Shanghai thanks to it!
2 – PYH (CHN). Chinese Pu Hao Yang ends up at the 2nd place of this world ranking, moving up one place compared to 2010, thanks to the confirmation of his world title in Freestyle Battle.
3 – Jon Larrucea (SPA). Spanish Jon Larrucea achieves a wonderful improvement in the ranking compared to last year, as he goes from place #11 to #3, especially thanks to his double European title in Freestyle Battle and Classic, as well as consistent podiums.
Express Interview with Jon Larrucea
What do you think about your performances in 2011?
Jon: I can’t but feel proud about my performances. At the beginning of the season I was injured and I had surgery. Because of this, I missed the first battle in Spain and my performance was deteriorated. After a fast recovery, I won battle Bremen and I did my 2011 Classic program for first time.
This year, I went to Asia for the first time. I loved Thailand and China and I learned a lot in those places. I’m really looking forward to going there again.
So I’m happy about my own performance this year because I did well, I trained enough and I always had fun!!
You won 2 European champion titles in 2011, you reached the world Top-3 in the freestyle ranking. How do you feel about this?
Jon: I feel very happy about these achievements, of course, the season couldn’t go better for me, I think. (But still I think I can improve my ranking in the Spanish Slalom Series ;)).
The European champion titles and the third place of the world ranking were totally unexpected. I can’t say that it was a piece of cake, there is training behind this performance, but I feel I’m still in the learning phase and I have more to show.
On the other hand, I feel sometimes the pressure of the titles and miss the feeling of competing without nothing to lose and everything to get, but I think it’s normal.
4 – YHQ (CHN). The (very) young Ye Hao Qin is the surprise of the year. He moves from place #270 last year up to place #4! Although he didn’t win any competition this year, he regularly qualified for finals during international Asian Battles as well as during the World Championships.
10 – Romain Lebois (FRA). The best French of the year, Romain Lebois, ranks in the Top-10 (#10) with good results, especially a European Vice-Champion Title in Battle and a podium in Berlin for the Inline Games.
Freestyle: Women’s Category
1 – SFQ (CHN). Chinese Su Fei Qian dethrones Ukrainian Marina Boyo thanks to wins in important Asian competitions, including the Beijing Masters and Shanghai Grand Prix, but also thanks to her World Title in Battle obtained in Germany. She thus goes from place #7 last year to place #1 this year, with constant improvements and an impressive mastering of her most difficult tricks.
2 – Marina Boyko (UKR). Despite a slowdown at the end of the season, Marina Boyko, recently dethroned, manages to rank #2 thanks to her wins of the beginning of the season in Moscow, Paris and Berlin.
3 – Chen Chen (CHN). Chen Chen also moves down one place in 2011, but she is firmly hanging on to the Top-3 thanks to a new World Title in Classic. Chen Chen has had 5 world titles since 2008, including 4 in a row in Classic… she is the record-holder of World Titles in Freestyle (Classic & Battle).
7 – Zoé Granjon (FRA). The best French, Zoé Granjon, moves from place #104 last year up to #7! She gets the European Vice-Champion title in Classic.
Speed Slalom: Men’s Category
1 – Yohan Fort (FRA). In Men’s Speed Slalom, the season was full of twists and turns with not less than four different No.1s: Tiziano Ferrari (ITA), #1 by the end of 2010, is dethroned at the beginning of the season by compatriot Luca Ulivieri. The latter doesn’t have the time to enjoy it as Korean Kim Sung Jin walks off with it. Finally, French Yohan Fort becomes the leader of the ranking in July 2011 thanks to his European Title. He secures his position with the World Title, won for the second time in a row, in October in Germany.
2 – KSJ (KOR). At the 2nd place is the Freestyle No.1, Kim Sung Jin (KOR), who moves up one place compared to last year, thanks to more consistent results and a win in Moscow.
Express Interview with Kim Sung Jin
What do you think about your results in Speed Slalom this year?
About Speed Slalom, actually, I didn’t do good except in Russia. Stronger speed skaters appeared this year and I relatively became slower :S I think it will be much more difficult to win Speed Slalom and I should train harder and more regularly!
Although I missed some chances and did some bad performances, I`m satisfied on the whole because I somewhat achieved my goals which were emerged from the shortcomings I’d had in 2010!
In 2011, you won a World champion title, you kept your first place at the freestyle ranking, you became the first man in slalom history to reach both 1st places in speed and freestyle slalom at the same time, and you became the man who stayed the longest at world's first place. How do you feel about all those records this year?
I feel very proud of all those records. Actually, all I have to do is to keep the place, but I know that it’s more difficult to keep the place than to get it, so I may have tried to keep it more in the 2011 Season. As you know, I had a big problem before the World Freestyle Skating Championship in Geisingen. I injured my right arm one month before the WFSC, so I nearly gave up taking part because I couldn’t train well.
However, I gathered up my mind to train more, even with a cast, because many skaters cared for me and wanted to see me at the WFSC. The arm recovered ahead of time, so I could train earlier with better condition!
I think I’m very lucky because all I did was to get the World Champion title, but automatically it got me the title of the longest time at the world’s 1st place as well Furthermore, I managed to rank at the 1st place for a while in Speed Slalom so I am the 1st man who got 1st ranking in both Speed and Freestyle at the same time! What a lucky man I am!
3 – Simone Nai Oleari (ITA). Simone Nai Oleari gets hold of the third step of the podium thanks to very good performances all through the year. He reaches the finals in Moscow and Berlin.
Speed Slalom: Women’s Category
1 – Barbara Bossi (ITA). Barbara Bossi (ITA) remains #1. She managed to keep her leadership all through the season, getting her second World Title in a row and two wins in Paris and Berlin. The only title she still misses is the European consecration, the only win she missed this year.
Express Interview with Barbara Bossi
What do you think about your performances of 2011 season ?
I'm really happy with my performances, even if I started “quietly”. But I improved my results during the season. I could have done better in battle and classic, but I think I have to improve my technical level so I'm working hard for it.
You kept your first place and your world champion title in 2011, how do you feel about that ?
Winning for the second year in a row is a great result and I'm really happy and satisfied. Everybody says that winning is difficult but confirming is even more difficult, then I think I did a good job. But anyway I won't stop working hard and fighting to keep my first place!
2 – Cristina Rotunno (ITA). At the 2nd place there is another Italian, Cristina Rotunno, who achieves a good progression (9th last year). She wins Shanghai, and gets a European as well as a World Vice-Champion title.
3 – Clémence Guicheteau (FRA). The best French, Clémence Guicheteau, pulls herself up to the 3rd place. In London she gets the European Title for the second time in a row. She reaches the final in Berlin and wins in Anvers (2 cones, Belgium).
A few questions to Kim Sung Jin, Jon Larrucea and Barbara Bossi
According to you, what was the best event of 2011 and why?
KSJ: According to me, it is Ancona Battle because the competition was very well organized! Of course, there were many people watching the competition because there were many tourists spending their holidays near the competition area. Also, the schedule was not that tight (2 days) and there was a beach just in front of the competition area, so we could enjoy the event enough and have time to chill out from the competition pressure and go for a swim! In addition to this, the organizer’s and the local skaters’ hospitality were great! (Thank you, Alessandro and Lucia! ) If you want to take part in a competition and go on a vacation altogether, Ancona Battle is a good choice! ^^
Jon: This is a difficult and ambiguous question. Each competition has its own features and is the best in something concrete. Bremen being epic and organized by a friend, Barcelona because of the good environment, the number of outsiders and for being my home. Paris was special because of the Classic and of the two Spanish in the battle final. Asia was special too, because of the experience and because I met a lot of people.
I could say something about every single event but if I have to choose only one as the best, it is SkateLondon!! Where I got my titles and my good ranking. There was a good environment with friends and, above all, the whole podium of the freestyle classic was Spanish! (This is something that I will always remember).
Barbara: The best event of 2011 is without any doubt the WSFC in Geisingen. It was a great event, very well organised and there was a lot of audience even if it was an indoor competition. I think the organisation worked really hard for it and I think they did a great job. I hope there will be another competition in Arena Geisingen.
According to you, who is the skater of the year and why?
KSJ: In my opinion, Zang Hao and Feng Hui, the smallest pair couple from China, are the skaterS of the year. I’d like to choose only one skater, but I think the two’s pair slalom was a very great challenge for Style Slalom, especially Feng Hui’s freestyle Slalom with Michael Jackson’s Music. I also had thought of using Michael Jackson’s music for Freestyle BGM some years ago, but I couldn’t dare. However, they did it boldly and very well! Also, Zang Hao improved very fast his footwork as well as his trick level!
Of course, they still have many things to learn, modify and achieve, but they are still young and so cute!!! I think that soon we will see and be looking forward to their unlimited potential!!!
Jon: I could mention several skaters who did amazing improvements in performance but then I would miss some of them.
For me the skater of the year is a woman. She has demonstrated her improvement over the time and consistently thanks to her training. Her technique is nowadays amazing, she is a very complete skater, stylish and all this with a smile.
I’m talking about Polina Semenova.
Barbara Bossi: This is a difficult question because I can't choose! I think everybody improved in their way and everybody showed it... but if I really have to choose, I think the skater of the year is Feng Hui. She's so young, so talented and she really shows that she appreciates what she does. Even if she competes at a top level, she looks like she's playing.
What are your plans for the 2012 Season?
KSJ: I got a special project for which I need to take part in more events and go all around the world as much as possible, because I want to make an “all around the world” video! I’ve started it since 2009 and I got some good resources from many countries, so I’m going to make a video to promote this project soon! Actually, my video equipments and skills are not very good, but I’d like to make it by myself! If anybody wants to help and join this project, just contact and invite me in your country!!!
Jon: I will try to fight during the season to, at least, defend my current position which is actually very hard. Of course I will try to improve my ranking, keep training and develop new skills and tricks to be more complete.
Also, I want to create my best classic run with a better music than other years and more footwork.
Lastly I want to travel as much as I did this year or even more, have fun meeting new people with the same passion and develop the sport.
Barbara Bossi: This can be an obvious answer but I just wish to improve my technical level in freestyle and to keep my first place in speed slalom. I wish to continue having fun competing, too.
…And what about this year?
The 2012 season will be no picnic either, which is a good thing!
Most of the 35 events already planned this year are still to be confirmed, but 9 are already, including the PSWC in Paris which remains faithful to the last weekend of May. The list will be getting bigger and bigger as the season unfolds.
The real kick-off of the season, just as the WSS tradition requires, will take place in March with the Moscow Main Event. Nearly one main event (3 cones) per month is planned for 2012: Moscow (rus) in March, Namwon (kor) in April, the PSWC (fra) in May, the Inline Games of Berlin (ger) in July, SkateLondon (uk) in August, Busto Arsizio (ita) in September and the 4th challenge of the Thailand Series in November. Seven Prime Events (2 cones) are also to be confirmed.
The last question is when and where the three Major Event (4 cones) will take place this year: The European and Asian Championships as well as the World Championships!
A few videos…
Kim Sung Jin at Shanghai Grand Prix 2011 – Classic
Pu Yao Yang at Geisingen World Championships – Battle final
Jon Larrucea at SkateLondon (European Championships) – Classic
Su Fei Qian at Geisingen World Championships – Battle final
Marina Boyko at the PSWC – Battle final
Chen Chen at Geisingen World Championships – Classic
Yohan Fort at Geisingen World Championships – Speed final
Feng Hui & Zan Hao at Geisingen World Championships – Pair Classic
Report on the 2010 World Slalom Series
By Close Yr E’s
Photos: Seba, Keanoush Zargham
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