Champion Gary Hunt wins and Blake Aldridge performs the world’s most difficult dive at second stop of the 2015 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in France.
Hunt makes it back-to-back wins in the 2015 World Series with victory in La Rochelle. Fellow Brit Blake Aldridge performs a brand-new dive to come second, while Orlando Duque repeats his third-placed finish from Colombia. As of today these three athletes also lead the overall standings after two of eight stops. A record number of spectators for a World Series event watched the competition unfold as 75,000 pairs of hands propelled 13 of the world’s best cliff divers to excel from the 27.5m-platform on the Saint Nicolas Tower on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the athletes reaching speeds of 85kph during their three-second dives.
The season’s first stop on European soil was a return to the World Series’ all-time favourite location – La Rochelle. The town with the apt name of ‘little cliff’ was the lynchpin for the world’s cliff diving elite for the fifth time in the seven years of the series and it was Gary Hunt (516.00pts) who took an impressive win ahead of his nearest rivals. Second-placed Aldridge debuted a brand-new dive in World Series competition on Sunday – his reverse double somersault with five twists has now overtaken Hunt’s own triple quad as the hardest dive in the sport to date, with a Degree of Difficulty of 6.3. Executed successfully, it has the potential to catapult the former Olympian to the top and so it proved in France. The 8s from the judges helping to ensure that Blake, with a total of 460.35 points, joined Hunt in making it an English one-two on the podium for the first time in the World Series. Orlando Duque (456.20pts) completed the top-three with a second successive third-placed finish in the World Series, but there was disappointment for former champion Artem Silchenko, the winner of the last event staged in La Rochelle in 2013, as the Russian missed out on a place in the final having lost his head-to-head with Hunt.
Disappointment, but also relief, was the emotion felt by Steven LoBue after the US athlete struck the platform with his head in Round 2 during the execution of a twist for his triple quad dive. LoBue somehow kept his concentration and completed the dive, but afterwards was sporting a deep cut above his left eye.
The daunting venue in the Bay of Biscay topped its own record of the biggest World Series’ crowd of 75,000 spectators along the quay walls. It’s a one-of-a-kind atmosphere when so many people are hushed for the three-second dive and then cheer the resurfacing athlete.
The World Series athletes do not have long to recover from this cold-water battle, with the next stop taking place in Texas in under two weeks’ time.
Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in La Rochelle Video Highlights
QUOTES FROM THE TOP-THREE
Gary Hunt (UK)
It’s amazing, it’s the start to the season that I really wanted and doing it here in La Rochelle… it’s extra special! This competition has such a history behind it. We were all nervous thinking what it was going to be like, but today was great – it wasn’t too cold, there was hardly any wind. The conditions were perfect – the best we’ve had in La Rochelle – the crowd were amazing as well and to finish on top of the podium is the cherry on top of the cake. It’s been a great start to the year for me and it was great seeing Blake [Aldridge] on the podium as well – we talked about doing a one-two this year and we’ve done it already so it’s an amazing feeling.
Blake Aldridge (UK)
I’m delighted. I came into the week not feeling very well. I didn’t feel myself yesterday, but fortunately I did a good dive and started today off in second. I still didn’t feel 100 percent today, but got straight up and did my big new dive in training and that went down well. That relieved a lot of pressure and spurred me on. To finish second… I’m delighted. I’ve got such good memories of this place. It’s where I learnt to cliff dive, where I got my first podium and now I’ve got a third place and a second place here. It’s always a good place to come to, the crowd’s always amazing. Gary [Hunt] and I have both been on the podium together, but we’ve not done a British one-two before, and we’ve managed to do that now. Unfortunately it’s Gary who’s always first! But hopefully we can change that at some point! I’ve put in a lot of training in the off-season and learnt some new dives including my big twist – and it’s paying off. Even if I don’t dive great, I’m still going through on 7.5s and 8s, so before it was all or nothing, but now even though I’m still not at my best I’m getting on the podium.
Orlando Duque (COL)
I’m feeling better in practice than in the competition which isn’t great. It should be happening in the competition, but it’s still early and hopefully I can do a little bit better as the season develops. I know I have the dives so I can make it work later on. This has been one of the best years we’ve had in La Rochelle. The diving is going crazy right now – there’s a lot of difficulty but there’s also a lot of quality. Gary [Hunt] is still the mega champion! Like I told him when he came to the podium, this is his town! I was ahead of him going into the last round, and I think if I’d have scored 10s on my last dive I might have beaten him… just. But right now he’s a long way ahead of everyone, and nothing fazes him, which makes it even tougher. But it’s good to have that motivation – you want to get close to him and one day beat him. It’s next stop Texas and I’m determined to do well there. I was in last place there last year, so hopefully I can maintain the level that I’m diving at right now.
Results Stop 2, La Rochelle
1. Gary Hunt | UK | 516.00pts.
2. Blake Aldridge | UK | 460.35
3. Orlando Duque | COL | 456.20
4. Jonathan Paredes | MEX | 447.55
5. David Colturi | USA | 432.50
6. Michal Navratil | CZE | 377.30
7. Kris Kolanus (wildcard) | POL | 367.70
8. Anatoliy Shabotenko (wildcard) | UKR | 356.70
9. Andy Jones | USA | 284.90
10. Cyrille Oumedjkane (wildcard) | FRA | 257.70
11. Jucelino Junior | BRA | 245.10
12. Artem Silchenko | RUS | 230.40
13. Steven LoBue | USA | 198.40
Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2015
Gravity-defying freefall punctuated by awe-inducing tricks – that is cliff diving. The sport’s best athletes leap aesthetically from almost three times the Olympic height with no protection at all, except their concentration, skill and physical control. In less than three seconds, gravity propels the divers’ bodies as they fall the equivalent of eight stories, reaching speeds in excess of 85kph.
Since 2009, the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series has provided a platform for breathtaking action and dives of incredible complexity, spotlighting the sport’s top athletes as well as young talent and in 2014 it introduced a Women’s World Series. In its seventh season, this rapidly-evolving sport will crown new champions during eight demanding competitions for the men and three stops for the women. Between April and September, this pure extreme sport will touch waters in natural and urban surroundings as well as remote and iconic venues across South America, the US and Europe and top it all with the season finale and the 50th World Series competition.
LifeProof® is the official World Series partner to protect competitors’ smartphones to ensure they can focus on competing, safe in the knowledge that their device is protected from dirt, dust, rocks and crucially, water!
Red Bull Cliff Diving Series La Rochelle Photo Gallery
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