On a barely believable day of drama at the 2017 World Series showdown in Lago Ranco, Chile, Team LifeProof star Jonathan Paredes produced the best day’s diving of his career to topple six-time champion Gary Hunt of England, who uncharacteristically failed his final dive beside the Riñinahue Waterfalls at the foot of the Andes mountains. Joining Paredes on the podium were Czech Republic’s Michal Navratil in second and Italian Alessandro De Rose in third.
In the women’s, Australia’s Rhiannan Iffland overcame injury to display the heart of a true champion and secure her second title in as many seasons, with Yana Nestsiarava of Belarus and fellow Australian Helena Merten finishing the sixth competition in second and third respectively.
In a location that is only just shaking off the last remnants of winter, 28-year-old Paredes finally lived up to his billing as the ‘style master’ and performed his new hardest dive for the highest competition score of the year to top the podium in Chile. It was another season best for Navratil, who secured his first 2017 podium on second, forcing De Rose, the wildcard winner in Italy, into third place.
“It’s unreal for me,” said Paredes, “because coming here to Chile I wanted to win this competition and put some pressure on Gary, but I knew that the winner was Gary; so I was more like I want to keep the second overall place. Right now I feel over the moon. Normally I cry the whole time, but today I’m still in shock. I’m so happy, a little bit sad for Gary, but that’s the sport. I hope to keep this level for the years coming!”
Looking at the overall results from the 27m platform, the King Kahekili Trophy went to Mexico for the very first time in nine years of the World Series. “Become the champion”, was the new title holder’s personal goal before the 2017 season and it was in his sixth year on the World Series that the Mexican took the top spot following a third and a second placed overall finish in the previous two years. Today’s third-placed finisher Alessandro De Rose, Andy Jones and David Colturi (both USA) complete the top six of the 2017 World Series to prequalify for the 2018 season.
Hunt’s mid-air blackout in the final dive made this dream come true and put the six-time winner in the runner-up spot for the third time since 2009, only 10 points short of his seventh title. Fellow Brit Blake Aldridge claimed third place overall, his personal best World Series result to date.
Over in the women’s, 26-year-old Iffland returned from a knee injury sustained at the last stop in Mostar and opted not to train from the women’s 21m platform in order to minimize the stress on her body. After two solid dives in the first two rounds, the defending champion finished her second season on tour in style with her fourth out of six possible wins. Belarusia’s Nestsiarava finished where she had started the year – on second place, beating the youngest athlete in the line-up to third. It was Merten’s fourth podium finish in 2017.
I’m very very excited,” said Iffland, “especially coming here after Bosnia. Mentally it was tough; to block out these negative thoughts that something could go wrong again. I’m in complete disbelief that I’m walking away in the top spot. Everybody did so well this year; we saw so many strong dives from the women. It’s an incredible feeling standing up there next to all these brave divers.”
In the overalls, Iffland and Merten made it an Australian double with Adriana Jimenez from Mexico completing the women’s top three. Despite Ginger Huber being forced to pull out due to injury, the American finished fourth overall and automatically qualified for the 2017 season as well.
In addition to the top six of the 2017 World Series ranking, the remaining four permanent tickets for the 2018 season were assigned according to the rankings after 9 events, including the FINA World Cup, the FINA World Championships and Marmeeting: Michal Navratil (CZE), Steven LoBue (USA), Orlando Duque (COL) and Kris Kolanus (POL).
In the female’s, Yana Nestsiarava (BLR) and Germany’s Anna Bader got awarded a permanent ticket for the fifth year of the women’s World Series. According to the injury policy of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, Lysanne Richard is automatically qualified as a permanent diver for 2018 although the Canadian could not compete this season.