Italy and France take slalom gold medals at Mediterranean Games

Words: | Photos: Des Burke-Kennedy

Held every four years, the Mediterranean Games, staged this time in Mersin, Turkey, attracted 4,000 athletes in 32 sports from 24 countries. A total of 52 different facilities were involved and many were constructed within the past eighteen months. Certainly those present were very impressed by what was provided for the athletes, officials and spectators. The sun drenched skies and 32C temperature added a special sense of occasion in a historic region with a 6,000 year history.

Mersin’s new 25,000 seat Olympic Stadium staged the Official Opening Ceremony of the 2013 Mediterranean Games. Waterski Slalom Skiers, one of the extreme sports of the Games, took part from Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, France, Italy, Lebanon, Serbia, Spain and Turkey. The packed grandstands were treated to a magnificent music and projection display in the Stadium highlighting the long history and fables of Turkey.


With just eight places in both the Men’s and Women’s Waterski Slalom Finals, the Saturday qualification rounds involving 24 athletes showed that in spite of some typically mid-day windy Mediterranean conditions, the standard of competition did not suffer. Eventually, the Sunday Finals saw the best performers win through to reach the top eight for both Men and Women. Included were Slalom Skiers from Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Spain and Turkey.


In the Men’s Finals, early casualties were Tarek Fenianos LIB, Tarek Bou Maachar LIB and Baris Firinci TUR. The pressure of this enormous occasion was just too much. Feruccio Muzic CRO then raised the barrier to 2 buoys on the 13m Slalom line. From that point on, the super stars from Italy, Greece and France took over. First, the defending Mediterranean Games Slalom Champion, Matteo Luzzeri ITA, got all the spectators cheering with a lead score of 1.5 buoys on the 12m line. Grigoris Sarantis GRE tried to respond but went down three buoys shorter. Twenty two-year old Thibaut Dailland, National Slalom Champion of France, was superb and took the lead with 3.5 buoys on the same 12m line. This left Carlo Allais ITA, a past World Cup and Moomba Masters medal winner, with a huge challenge. To the delight of the cheering spectators, he pulled out all the stops and waved to the crowds with a final score of 4 buoys on the 12m line, just a half buoy ahead of Thibault Dailland. Italy would take home that coveted Mediterranean Games gold medal !


Under the hot mid-day sun, the Women’s top eight entered the arena. First out behind the Nautique boat was Turkey’s nineteen year-old Yasemin Burcu Demirok. To the delight of the crowd, she immediately set a new National Slalom Record for Turkey with 3 buoys at 52kph. Christina Christoforou GRE, Paula Sleiman LIB and Loli Daniil GRE were not able to get beyond the 14.25m line today, in spite of their great efforts. Sandra Botas ESP then got the first score on the shorter 13m line with two buoys but looked disappointed as she came ashore. Beatrice Ianni ITA then opened up the lead with 4.5 buoys on that 13m line and now the challenge really began. Next out was Manon Costard FRA, Europe’s 2011 Slalom Champion. She was flawless. Her superb score of four buoys on the 11.25m line pushed her way ahead of everybody at the closing moments. This was also a new Mediterranean Games Slalom Record. Only one athlete could now upset the score sheet. That was Clementine Lucine FRA. With a total of eight World titles to her credit, the audience knew that this would be a very serious challenger. Within what seemed like moments, she was already on the winning rope length of 11.25m. As all watched her get closer and closer to Manon Costard, suddenly she went down at 2.5 buoys – 1.5 less than Costard’s performance. France would take home that coveted Mediterranean Games gold medal.


These enormous Games were originally planned to take place in Greece. Eighteen months ago, economic problems forced a cancellation. Turkey stepped in. To experience what they have created in that short time is close to miraculous. The new Opening Ceremony Stadium, the vast array of sports halls, the special Judges Tower for the Waterski Slalom event and all the other impressive facilities, were an achievement beyond the capabilities of many countries. The Slalom Skiers of the International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation will certainly never forget the experience.


Slalom Women:

1. Manon Costart FRA
2. Clementine Lucine FRA
3. Beatrice Ianni ITA


Slalom Men:

1. Carlo Allais ITA
2. Thibaut Dailland FRA
3. Matteo Luzzeri ITA