2003 saw unprecedented international growth in freestyle due to Nike’s ad campaign, the first FPA Worlds held in Europe and the devoted work of many teachers and freestyle evangelists all over the world. The end of the year world rankings reflect not only this international growth but also the many battles and momentum shifts that happened throughout the year.
After working her way steadily toward the top spot for ten seasons, Cindy Kruger finishes number one on the 2003 year-end rankings. Her rankings have shown a steady progression toward the top ranking since 1994: #9, #10, #8, #5, #4, #4, #4, #5, #2 and this year, #1.
It was a close battle, with only 25 points separating Kruger from last year’s #1, Judy Robbins. They split 2003’s major women’s titles, Robbins winning the World Disc Games with Mary Lowry and Kruger winning the FPA Worlds with Lisa Hunrichs-Silvey.
One factor that may have made the difference was Mixed Pairs in Rimini. Robbins finished sixth to Kruger’s fifth. Robbins’ mixed result from Rimini is one of her five best. If she had placed just one spot higher in those crazy finals winds, she would have picked up those extra 25 points to at least tie Kruger, who did not need her mixed result as one of her best five.
As it played out, Kruger’s total includes two world championship titles (2003 Women’s, 2002 Mixed), two second places in majors (2003 WDG, 2002 FPA Worlds Women’s) a tour event win (2002 Summerfest) and a world championships finals result (2003 Mixed – 5th place) as a spare. Robbins had one world championship title (2002 Women’s), one major title (2003 WDG), two second places at the worlds (2003 Womens, 2002 Mixed) and one world championships finals results (2003 Mixed Pairs – 6th place). Both are stellar records, but Krugers is slightly deeper, so she ends up with a slight points edge.
Lisa Hunrichs-Silvey and Bethany Sanchez made the two other major moves in the top five. 2000 and 2001 year-end number one Hunrichs-Silvey sat out Women’s Pairs at the 2002 FPA Worlds, but this year she swept both Women’s Pairs and Mixed Pairs and added second place points from the WDG to rehab her ranking from #7 to #4. Sanchez added to the points she won by winning Women’s Pairs at the 2002 FPA Worlds. Her runner-up finish in Mixed Pairs in Rimini solidified her points and moved her from last year’s #9 to this year’s #5.
Sweden’s Karolina Hagenbjörk and Linda Törngren made a huge impression on the audience in Rimini. Their Swedish national championships titles from the past two years, plus Women’s Pairs, Mixed Pairs and Open Co-op results from Rimini move them from outside the top 20 last year into the top 10. Two other Swedes, Gohar and Nilofaar Mossavarrahmani, travelled to WDG and bolstered their year-end rankings up to a tie for #12.
See the full year-end women’s list.
For the second year in a row, the athletes in the top two spots have the same points. Last year, Dave Lewis was the number one player due to the Spread The Jam tiebreaker – who played in the most events. This year, both players increased the number of events they played, and Arthur Coddington wins the year-end number one ranking on the same tiebreaker, with 16 total results to Lewis’s 13. Coddington and Lewis’s point total includes the 2002 and 2003 World Championships (2 first places, one second, one fourth), one major title (2003 WDG), one tour event (2002 Summerfest) and one regular tournament win (2002 California Open).
Pat Marron makes his first appearance in the year-end top ten, after just missing out at number eleven last year. He bolstered his points in 2003 with a runner-up finish in pairs at Rimini and strong placings at the Wisconsin States and the San Diego World Beach event. Marron finishes a heartbreaking 0.25 points out of Randy Silvey’s number 8 spot. Silvey overtook Marron by winning the Arizona States.
Two seasons of winning nearly every tournament he entered finally paid off for Dave Murphy as he finishes in the top 3. Though he didn’t nail the major titles he trained for in 2003, top finishes at the World Disc Games and Rimini added to his already formidable point total to push him just above new Co-Op world champions Paul Kenny and Tom Leitner.
It was a year of firsts for Clay Collerá. First top three by an Italian in Open Pairs at the world championships. Playing on the first all-Italian team in a world championships final. His successes give him the best ever year-end ranking by an Italian, moving up to 12 from last year’s 23. Making the both open finals at the World Championships, placing third in the Open Pairs final, and winning the season-ending Campionato Indoor Romashred boosted his point total nearly 350 over last year. Hot on his tail is Collerá’s Ciakka Uakka teammate Lorenzo Apriani at number 16. 2003 is the first year where two Italians finished in the top 20.
Had Sune Wentzel not won his first FPA Worlds title, Fernando Botrugno might have made it three Italians in the top 20. Wentzel’s Co-Op win with Kenny and Leitner gave him enough additional points to move from 38 on the 2002 list to 20 this year, just one spot and 1.5 points above Botrugno.
The real Italian story is not in the top 20, though. An army of Italian players jumped onto the rankings and started charging toward the top. Simone Caliento (#47), Alessandro Damiano (#51), Andrea Farnocchia (#55), Enrico Barsanti (#56), Zio Ranieri (#72), Edoardo Favorini (#74 – the top-ranked newcomer on the rankings), Lorenzo Manzoni (#76), Marco Ruperto (#77), Claudia DeLuca (#83) and Matteo Gaddoni (#88 – the 2nd highest ranked newcomer) and a dozen others finished in the top 200.
Italians were not the only Europeans to make a big splash. Switzerland’s Reto Zimmerman fell eleven spots from his usual top 30 ranking but still finishes in the top 40. Sweden’s Roland Karlsson travelled to Santa Cruz for the World Disc Games, then went to Rimini for the Worlds. The result? He moves from a a tie with Jan Ekman for 104th in 2002 to 49th this year. Ekman makes almost as big a move, up to 54th. In 1993, Ekman finished the year at #2.
Freestyle missed the presence of several players at tournaments this year. Dave Schiller is focusing on his family rather than tournaments right now, but make no mistake. He’s still jamming. On any given day, he’s still the best player in the world. Playing only one tournament this year (and winning it) could not compensate for the points he lost from the 2001 season, during which he won the co-op world title. Schiller drops 25 notches from 7 to 32. Dan Yarnell also took a haitus for most of 2003 and got married. The rankings side effect was a drop from #5 to #11.
Several top players played no tournaments in the past two seasons and fell off the rankings. Players like Buddy Adams (#40 last year and dealing with some knee issues), Nikki Ross (#59), Karl-Christian Storz ((#67), Deanna Ross (#88), Mike Beckmann (#98), Richhi Ross (#107), Jeff Getty (#119), Paulo Sestigiani (#121), Dan Berman (#125), Pontus Howding (#133), Vic Ouzoonian (#142), Mikey Reid (#143) and Barak Lifshitz (#169) all dropped off the rankings list this year. We’ll look forward to their return to the competitive scene, and we’ll enjoy jamming with them in the meantime.
See the full year-end open list.