LOCAL JET SKIER TAKES 18TH IN FINALS
By Raenelle Kwock
Observer Staff Writer
An error caused La Grande's Jason Harmon to finish 18th at the Jet Ski World Finals in Lake Havasu, Ariz., in October.
He missed a buoy in the last- chance qualifier. The fifth-place finisher ended up taking Harmon's spot in the main event.
"All it took was one mental error," Harmon said.
In the first moto, he competed against 11 skiers and had to be in the top four to go on to the main event. He was in second place until someone banged his ski knocking him into ninth place.
So, Harmon had one more shot at qualifying for the main event. He had to finish second or win the last-chance qualifier. Harmon started in fourth place and worked his way to second. After the race, he learned he had finished fourth for missing a buoy.
Even though Harmon did not make the main event, he had fun.
"I had a great time," he said. "I'm glad I went. I want to go again next year."
He made the finals after being the top Northwest qualifier.
There were 750 races with 1,400 competitors from 40 states and 35 countries at the week-long event.
Before he could compete, he had to have his ski inspected.
The inspectors tried to disqualify Harmon. However, he was allowed to race.
There were 36 turns on the track, which is twice the size that Harmon normally races on.
It was a "very confusing course," Harmon said.
The competitors were taken out to the course and given two laps to practice.
"I don't think that is enough, not for a track like this," Harmon said.
There were more than 100 competitors in Harmon's class. He finished 18th out of 33 qualified skiers.
Todd Barnham of New Zealand was the winner.
"He just annihilated us," Harmon said, adding that Barnham was a "half track" ahead of everyone.
As for next time, he said it is better to hang back until the last couple laps and wait for people to make mistakes instead of being fast.
Harmon said he would not have made it this far without a lot of support from his many sponsors.