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New Zealand Barefooters find success at Oceania Championships

17th - 20th November 2022 | IWWF Oceania Waterski Championships

It was an exciting week for our sport as 15 skiers from New Zealand competed in the first international competition in 4 years since COVID 19 shut down the world. Of the 15 skiers, 10 were representing New Zealand for the first time, an exciting opportunity for our club members. In addition to our skiers Rob Groen and Claire Mowday were selected as officials, Ross Linton and Craig Scott were the New Zealand Team Managers and we had the best support crew/cheer squad in town!

The Mulwala Waterski Club hosted countries from the Oceania region competing in Barefooting, 3-event waterskiing, Ski racing, show skiing, and wakeboarding. Due to major flooding and crazy weather in the region, wakeboarding was not able to hold their competition and the other disciplines pushed hard to finish the tournament in time.

New Zealand Juniors Kicked off the competition, the 5 juniors (Jack Mathis, Charlotte McGuire, Madi Bourke, James McGuire and Mitchell Rush) were all competing internationally for the very first time and were encouraged to embrace the experience and enjoy. That they did, with the entire group dying there hair blonde (with a fair bit of peer pressure from the open team skiers) to form a unified front to take on the Aussies. Aside from the off water antics there was also some amazing skiing.

Charlotte McGuire carved up in the Girls division scoring herself a bronze medal in tricks, bronze slalom, silver jump, and silver overall. Mitchell Rush skied away from his first toe up in competition. James McGuire took bronze in Junior boys Jump, and Jack Mathis stole the show attempting his first invert jump behind the boat, landing it and took home the silver medal. Jack also claimed the bronze in slalom and bronze in junior boys overall.

In the teams event, the Junior team came home with the silver medal.

Our open team of 4 was reduced to 3 as Fred Groen wasn't able to compete last minute due to a hamstring injury sustained attempting a deep-water start on the single ski (stick to barefooting maybe...). However, Georgia Groen, Ryan Groen, and Sarah Linton represented the open contingent well.

Georgia was also nursing an injury after rupturing 2 ligaments in her ankle just 3 months earlier attempting to flip a wakeboard (also should just stick to barefooting). Although not producing her usual scores, Georgia took a clean sweep of gold medals winning slalom, tricks, jump and the overall. Older brother Ryan also made his way to the podium with bonze medals in tricks, jump and overall. Sarah Linton received her fair share of medals, bringing home a bronze in slalom, tricks, overall and a silver medal in jump! Amazing results for our Open skiers, unfortunately we weren't quite good enough to beat Australia in the team event and had to settle for the silver team medal.

William Leigh was our sole representative in the Under 23 division, a new division that has just been introduced into the sport. Will came away with a GOLD in slalom, silver in tricks, silver in jump and silver overall.

Finally our senior men contingent. All new to international competition, this bunch of 5 men had survived multiple Fred Groen boot camps on their lead up to this event. Our senior men skiers included Grayson Cooper, Grant Plumber, Matt Slow, John McTaggart and Brent Wright. Grant Plummer was able to secure some much deserved podium time with a bronze in tricks and slalom. Meanwhile, Grayson Cooper narrowly missed out on a spot on the podium with just .3m difference in jump.

In addition to the Barefooting event we had members from our club compete in the ne ULTIMATE SKIER. This saw Ryan Groen and Sarah Linton compete in barefooting, slalom skiing, wakeboarding and show skiing. An event which was very entertaining for the spectators kiwi Sarah Linton was crowned Female Ultimate Skier and Australian Keenan Derry was crowned Male Ultimate Skier.

A huge congratulations to all involved in what was an amazing event and boy are we excited to compete internationally again! Next up... 2023 World Barefoot Championships!!

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