Thursday Aug 09, 2012

Cliff Divers Tame Angry Sea Serpent

Some Irish luck with the weather and the excellent performances of the 14 athletes in harsh, but country-typical conditions combined in Saturday’s fourth stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2012 on the all-natural island of Inis Mór off the Irish west coast. With the day’s highest score for a single dive of 176.90 points, Russia’s Artem Silchenko took his second consecutive win ahead of Orlando Duque, who leads the overall standings going into the second half of the season.

The 700 Irish fans who have won tickets to watch the competition that has been the talk of the town paid great respect to the cliff diving elite, who used the 28m between take-off and landing for their high dives into the rectangular Serpent’s Lair. Two eighth places followed by two firsts – it took the 28-year-old runner-up of the 2011 World Series three attempts to successfully trigger a new weapon in the battle for victory.

Artem Silchenko’s back armstand with two and a half somersaults and two and a half twists is not only an impressive dive from almost three times the Olympic height but also the second hardest in the Series. “They were great dives from me and it’s not usual for me to win when it’s cold. It was a big surprise that I dived so well. My armstand with blind entry was brilliant and I beat Orlando by four points.

When I came to the platform after Orlando dived I saw nine and nine and a half but I knew what I had to do for my final dive. You know it’s a good dive only when you’re underwater. You’re travelling so fast it’s impossible to take it all in“, stated the season’s only two-time winner. The Russian emerged as the man for all seasons amid the sunshine and showers of the Aran Islands, leaving Orlando Duque (499.50pts) the runner-up in another competition too close to call – first and second place were separated by just four points – and Steven LoBue (451.80pts), who also dove brilliantly, finishing third.

This first ever stop on Irish soil at the Aran Islands’ most notorious “blowhole”, a shoreline window to subterranean caverns, decided the 2012 World Series kick-off winner Orlando Duque as the interim leader (610 points) with Englishman Gary Hunt second (510) and Artem Silchenko (500) completing the top of the leaderboard. Even by World Series standards, the raw beauty and rugged landscape of the Aran Islands' Inis Mór was awe-inspiring and the divers were witness to nature at its most dramatic during Thursday. Strong winds and crashing waves meant that the first training was cancelled as many of the divers could only watch on, trying to take in the location without being able to climb the 28m platform for reasons of safety.

Though a huge tide was still producing swells of up to three metres in the natural pool, the improved conditions made two rounds possible the following day. 22 cliff dives remained for the final day, and by the end of the competition the daring divers had tamed the mythic sea serpent, which is said to make its presence felt by screeching, stormy winds. For the fifth stop the World Series will leap over to sports-mad Boston, USA, on August 24-25, leaving the remote and lush green island behind and touching down at this season’s only urban venue.

RESULTS STOP 4 1. Artem Silchenko | RUS | 503.50 pts 2. Orlando Duque | COL | 499.50 pts 3. Steven LoBue | USA | 451.80 pts 4. Michal Navratil | CZE | 419.90 pts 5. David Colturi | USA | 401.90 pts 6. Gary Hunt | UK | 383.85 pts 7. Alain Kohl | LUX | 382.60 pts 8. Cyrille Oumedjkane | FRA | 320.10 pts 9. Kent De Mond | USA | 254.55 pts 10. Blake Aldridge | UK | 238.20 pts 11. Todor Spasov | BUL | 215.10 pts 12. Genna Kutsenko | UKR | 210.75 pts 13. Jorge Ferzuli | MEX | 197.00 pts 14. Sasha Kutsenko | UKR | 135.00 pts (DNF)

For more info check out redbull.co.uk/cliffdiving and get involved in the first UK event that takes place in Wales in September.

Channels: Outdoor

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