"I don't know, I don't know," said Mike "I thought the first jump was 135. They held up that number in the boat. I was only going for 140 anyway."
"Well, we will protest. We will throw the book at them. Use anything you've got Get Marv."
But Rothenberg's protest was turned down, as he knew it would be. The distance relayed to the towboat was the one measured by visual sighting, not the official distance recorded by film. All jumpers were getting the same treatment, even though the visual sightings admittedly could be as much as seven feet in error. It looked as if Suyderhoud had failed in his defense of the championship as he walked up the spectator hill to watch the other jumpers.
Meanwhile, Grimditch—following Mike—leaped away on a 140-footer to move into first place in the jump (he had already been eliminated from the overall by a poor performance in tricks).
And then, dramatically, the wind came up hard from the open east end of the lake. It shook up the water, creating whitecaps, and it changed the picture completely. Ricky McCormick, watching the waves form, confessed to mixed emotions. "Mike's jump now looks better and better." he said. Then he frowned and looked at the sky. "Thanks a helluva lot."
Suyderhoud had let everybody back in the door two hours earlier, but now the wind was shutting them out. First McCormick, then Faulkner, then Athans took their runs through the choppy wakes but only Faulkner came anywhere close with 129 feet. "Damn wind," said Bob Bocock, the Canadian coach. "Mike got perfect water and his protest was about as ridiculous as a 160-foot jumper jumping 135 feet, which is what he is and what he did. But now he's saved."
And he was. Bruce Cockburn, down at the starting dock about to begin his run to the ramp, was the final threat. "I'm nervous," he said just before taking off. "I don't think Mike should have played safe—but now I guess he's the smart one." Cockburn, who needed a jump of 135 feet to retain his lead over Suyderhoud, made only 117. It was all over.
As Mike walked slowly back down the hill to get his skis, he found it difficult to speak. "I just don't know," he said "It's kind of bad to win this way. I guess—if the water had stayed the same, we would have known. But this way I don't know if I deserve it."
Still, Grimditch's 140-foot jump had held up for that first-round lead, giving the U.S. five first places out of the six events toward the team overall score, 8,821 out of a perfect 9,000. It was the highest total ever. Australia finished a distant second, with France third and Canada fourth.
And the wind came back to blow up a splashy finish on the final day. First, that jump scored by Grimditch still stood up against all new attempts—and the freckle-faced lad became the youngest jumping champ ever. Next, Suyderhoud had his troubles with the slalom—he tumbled after a run of 9� buoys and ended up fourth. He was still the overall water ski champion, of course, on the basis of his earlier points, but the new world slalom titleist turned out to be Spain's Victor Palomo, a first for his country. And with all that, it was Liz Allan who showed them all how to do it.