Day four (Wednesday) saw the next qualifying round of the Helicopter Parallel Fender Rigging and Slalom tasks. The teams pulled out all the stops in extremely exciting races in order to achieve the best result, because every team realised that today was ‘knock-out’ day where four of the remaining eight teams would be eliminated.
Yesterday saw the two Russian crews out in front, followed by Austria and Germany, but today’s focus was particularly on second to fourth positions. The Austrian crew of Günther Kremlicka and Gerd Luxbauer missed out on qualification by just four points and took fifth place. Similarly, the German crew of Martin Eigner and Thorsten Strohmeier dropped out of the top four and ended up eighth due to the amount of time they needed to put the bucket on the table.
Third was taken by the Italian crew of Pierluigi Barbero and co-pilot Luigi Marocco, whose superb performance in both disciplines was enough to assure them of a semi-final place. The stage is a set for a huge cry of ‘Forza Italia’ by the viewing public on Saturday.
The Russian crew of Kosenkova and Prokofyeva slid from second to fourth but this was enough for them to get to fly on Saturday. Their place was taken by the third Russian team of Zhuperina and Arbuzov who were lying sixth yesterday but displayed a strong nerve and put on an impressive performance in order to qualify for the next round.
The results going into the semi-final are: (Fender, Slalom, Total)
1 Russia: Viktor Korotaev / Nikolai Burov 297.5, 290.5, 588.4
2 Russia: Elena Zhuperina / Georgy Arbuzov 285.1, 281.1, 566.2
3 Italy: Pierluigi Barbero / Luigi Marocco 257.0, 271.4, 528.4
4 Russia: Lyudmila Kosenkova / Elena Prokofyeva 276.0, 249.9, 525.9
The weather forecasters predict good conditions for Saturday’s semi-final and a great spectacle is in prospect. Spectators can expect even more involvement; alongside the ground-based cameras, on-board pictures will also be screened live from the Austrian helicopter to give a real-time helicopter perspective of the action. So: helicopters are ready for take-off!