Medal haul inclusive
The 2014 New Zealand Barefoot Waterski Team have returned from the biennial World Championships with the biggest medal haul this country has ever had in the extreme sport of barefoot waterskiing.
New Zealand can now boast two new world champions: Brooke Fitch took the junior girls’ title and Bevan Kelly reclaimed his senior men’s title.
And cousins Ben Groen and Georgia Groen both won silver overall medals in the open divisions. These achievements were well-supported by the rest of the team with medals for all New Zealand competitors.
The junior team (skiers 17 years and under) had two talented Waikato skiers in it – James Leen and William Leigh from Tirau.
Both fought their way into the semifinals. James in slalom and jump; while William made the cut in tricks and jump.
As a result James ended up sixth overall and William was 11th. For these boys the experience of meeting and skiing against the top international barefoot water-skiers was only surpassed by the bronze medals they won in the team event.
The other Waikato skier representing New Zealand was Piarere Ski Club member, Kathy Duxfield, competing in the senior women division against skiers who can be up to 15 years her junior.
This was the fourth time Duxfield has skied at the World Championships and the first time in the finals – top five skiers.
She performed consistently throughout the competition to contribute strongly to the silver medals brought home by the New Zealand senior team, edging out a competitive American team in doing so. Silver medals were also won by the New Zealand open team.
In addition, New Zealand’s Marguerite Scott, skied as an independent skier in junior girls and made it into the tricks final.
Best performance yet: James Leen, Kathy Duxfield and William Leigh at the Barefoot Waterskiing World Championships.