FINA High Diving World Cup
Following the remarkable introduction of High Diving in the FINA World Championships programme and crowning moment of the first-ever World champions in Barcelona (ESP) in 2013, Kazan (RUS) successfully hosted the inaugural edition of the High Diving World Cup on August 8-10, 2014.
Two events are on the programme: a men's competition in five rounds (Aug 8 and 10) and a women's competition in two rounds (Aug 9). Men perform five dives from a 27m platform while women take off from a 20m platform, exhibiting three dives.
Kazan 2014, Day 3: Orlando Duque (COL) is already a legend
“You never think you can achieve this. It was clearly my day”. These were the first words of Orlando Duque (COL), the winner of the inaugural edition of the FINA High Diving World Cup organised in Kazan on August 8-10, 2014. The Colombian icon already made history at the 2013 FINA World Championships in Barcelona when he got the gold medal, following the inclusion of this exciting discipline in the FINA aquatic programme. “After Day 1, the scores were pretty close so I knew the competition would be very tough”, added Duque, who turns 40 years old in less than a month.
The Colombian diver totalled 601.20 points at the end of the five-dive competition, divided in two days: on Friday, at the end of the first three dives, Duque was second, but after two very solid dives on Sunday (average notes of 8.5) he got the gold in Kazan.
Kazan 2014, Day 2: U.S. trio on the women’s podium
It was USA all the way in the women’s final of the first FINA High Diving World Cup, taking place in Kazan with Rachelle Simpson getting the gold in front of her two teammates, medallists at the 2013 FINA World Championships: Ginger Huber was again second while Cesilie Carlton had to content with bronze after being the winner in the Catalonian capital.
In a competition marked by strong winds – athletes choosing armstand dives had visible problems in maintaining their initial position -, Simpson was the most consistent athlete of the nine-diver field. After a modest initial combination, the 26-year-old excelled in a forward 3 somersaults with ½ twists, piked (DD 3.4), amassing the highest score of the session, 86.70. “That dive was key for the gold”, recognised Simpson after the medal ceremony. Leader of the current season of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, Simpson (1,66m/56kg) couldn’t hide her satisfaction after the victory in Kazan. “I still don’t have words and I cannot stop shaking. It is an amazing feeling. When standing on the podium and watching the three U.S. flags, tears came to my eyes," confessed Simpson. Asked if the wind affected her performance, the U.S. diver smiled: “Fortunately not, as all my dives had a take-off with the feet…”
Kazan 2014, Day 1: LoBue’s risks pay off
Thanks to an amazing attempt, U.S. Steve LoBue is the provisional leader of the men’s competition at the first FINA High Diving World Cup after the initial session of dives on August 8, 2014 in Kazan (RUS). One of the few athletes in the world performing a very complicated forward 5 somersaults and ½ twists in piked position (DD 6.1), the North American got 164.70 points for his third and nearly-perfect combination and is naturally the man to beat on Sunday’s session. “I’m pretty confident, as I am quite comfortable in my two last dives of the final," declared LoBue after his effort in this preliminary session.
Behind him stands 2013 world champion Orlando Duque from Colombia. “In order to beat Orlando, I need to choose higher DDs and be successful. Otherwise, even with less DD, his dives are perfect and it's very hard to beat him," continued LoBue. Before Sunday’s final, the 29-year-old native of New Jersey and ninth at last year’s FINA World Championships, will take Saturday’s break to rest the legs and to “support the girls, who are progressing a lot”.
Kazan 2014, Sautin: “High Diving brings additional variety to Aquatics”
His roll of honour is impressive, but he remains humble when watching the High Diving performances. “Some say – he jokes – that you could use a parachute from the 27m platform; these guys, have nothing. They dive and have to enter in the water in the best possible way”, Dmitry Sautin says, considered by many the most complete pool diver in history.
Over five Olympic Games – from 1992 to 2008 – Sautin earned eight medals, including two gold (10m individual in Atlanta 1996 and 10m synchro in Sydney 2000). Moreover, he won a medal in each of the four possible events for men – 3m springboard and 10m platform, both individual and synchro.
Kazan 2014: Athletes enjoy the venue
In Barcelona, the beautiful scenario in the Montjuic Municipal Pool had been the stage of the lucky draw for the first ever High Diving competition under FINA auspices, at the 2013 FINA World Championships. In Kazan, Russia, the 34 divers participating at the inaugural FINA High Diving World Cup on August 8-10, 2014 got a hold of the Russian tradition by opening the small “matryoshka” dolls with a number inside, defining their appearance order in the competition. After the technical meeting following the second day of training, athletes strongly applauded the FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu when he confessed that our International Federation will naturally consider the inclusion of the discipline in the Olympic programme.
Under very hot conditions, but blessed by some wind, 25 men and 9 women tested the conditions in the Kazanka River, where a double structure was built: one comprising the platforms for the competition, and, facing it, a TV tower. The three-day competition will be broadcasted live in Russia and the signal will reach over 70 territories worldwide. On the background of the diving structure, the beautiful and emblematic Kremlin of Kazan, the most recognisable monument of the Tatar capital, included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Final countdown in Kazan (RUS)
Things are getting ready in Kazan (RUS) to welcome the participants for the first edition of the FINA High Diving World Cup, taking place on August 8-10, 2014.
One year after the successful staging of this new FINA discipline at the World Championships in Barcelona (ESP), a temporary tower is near completion on the Kazanka River, which will be used for the 2015 FINA World Championships in the capital of Tatarstan, as well.
Heading to Kazan: a closer look at DDs
With the development of high diving, FINA officially adopted at the beginning of 2014 the list of Degrees of Difficulty (DD) for this discipline. As in pool diving, it establishes all the possible combinations from the 27m board for men and 20m for women. To each kind of dive and position a DD is given and this coefficient will then be taken into account when calculating the scores of the divers. Going through the list, it is easy to understand the wider variety of combinations that high diving allows compared with pool diving, where a DD over 4.0 is already considered of extreme difficulty.
In high diving, things start to be complicated with a Degree of Difficulty over 6.0, with a theoretical maximum at 7.0 for a reverse 5 somersaults, piked. Taking into account that a high dive takes many months to prepare and stabilise, the strategy behind the choices of DD (as in pool diving) remains at the heart of the performance’s success.
Gary Hunt (GBR): The ‘wow’ man
As a starting point, he followed the customary route: a successful pool diver wanting new sensations and driven by different challenges. But then, having arrived at the peak of his talent in High Diving, he didn’t follow the group. He tends to be original, he constantly conquers new boundaries, he defies gravity with new combinations, he sets new standards. His name says it all: Hunt, Gary Hunt.
He chases perfection, he neutralises his opponents. Only one man escaped him [World champion Orlando Duque from Colombia], at the 2013 FINA World Championships, but the 30-year-old Englishman is determined to be the world number one.
High diving under FINA umbrella: towards maturity
Andy Jones gets it right: “It’s scary to think where it will be in another 10 years.” Representing the USA, the 29-year-old high diver will be one of the 26 male athletes competing in the first edition of the FINA High Diving World Cup, taking place in Kazan (RUS) from August 8 to 10. He knows what he is talking about: a member of the prestigious “Cirque du Soleil”, his reflection on the future of high diving says much about the recent evolution of the discipline.
The evolution has been amazing. In a mere 12-month period, this discipline has evolved from a small group of ‘extreme’ crazy athletes to a sport that has found its place among the aquatic disciplines under the FINA umbrella. In the last days of July 2013, on three hot afternoons in Barcelona (ESP), the world and the aquatic family were able to get acquainted with it. Not on paper, nor in the images from the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, but at FINA’s major event, the World Championships. In the port of the Catalan capital, looking at the serene waters of the Mediterranean, 13 men and six women played their role: pioneers at FINA level of a staggering sport. Presentations were officially made, FINA had found its sixth aquatic discipline.