The headlines may have all been about winners Gary Hunt, Rhiannan Iffland and Andy Jones at the final event of 2016 in Dubai, but there was also a side battle bubbling away under the marina lights for qualification to the 2017 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series.
After a long, hard and dramatic season in which more winners than ever before have stepped up to the top of the men's and women's podiums, the fight for the right to dive in 2017 also came down to the last few dives from the balconies of Pier 7.
In the men's competition, the top five of the 2016 World Series ranking automatically qualified, while the remaining five permanent tickets for 2017 were assigned according to the rankings after 11 events, including the FINA world cup and Marmeeting: David Colturi (USA), Orlando Duque (COL), Sergio Guzman (MEX), Blake Aldridge (GBR) and Kris Kolanus (POL), with Russian Artem Silchenko being edged out by the impressive Pole.
Poland's Kris Kolanus will join the permanent list of athletes in 2017 after a successful season as a wildcard. Photo: Balazs Gardi/Red Bull Content Pool.
In the female's, it was the top four who automatically qualified, and they will be joined by Mexico's Adriana Jimenez and Ginger Leigh Huber from the US, who were both awarded a permanent ticket for the 4th year of the Women's World Series. Two-time World Series champion Rachelle Simpson misses out after a season in which she has struggled to find her best form.
High-rising rookie Helena Merten will be back next year following an impressive first season. Photo: Romina Amato/Red Bull Content Pool.
The World Series, with its ever growing complexity of dives pushing the limits of what is physically possible, as well as the lengthening list of winners and increasing competition at the top, will return stronger than ever in 2017.
2017 Permanent Divers:
1. Gary Hunt, GBR
2. Jonathan Paredes, MEX
3. Michal Navratil, CZE
4. Andy Jones, USA
5. David Colturi, USA
6. Orlando Duque, COL
7. Steven LoBUe, USA
8. Sergio Guzman, MEX
9. Blake Aldridge, GBR,
10. Kris Kolanus, POL
1. Rhiannan Iffland, AUS
2. Lysanne Richard, CAN
3. Cesilie Carlton, USA
4. Helena Merten, AUS
5. Adriana Jimenez, MEX
6. Ginger Huber, USA
Watch the Dubai Replay
The replay of the final event is available to watch on demand at www.redbullcliffdiving.com and Red Bull TV. Red Bull TV is available on connected TVs, gaming consoles, mobile devices and more. Find out more at about.redbull.tv
Note that the replay is geo-blocked in the US due to an exclusive broadcast deal with FOX Sports. The event will air on FS1 at 2pm (ET) on December 04.