Hunt Finally Conquers Mostar's Old Bridge

Cesilie Carlton and Gary Hunt
Brit overcomes bridge jinx while Carlton ends patchy form with victory at Stari Most

England's Gary Hunt returned to imperious form to score his second victory of the season in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in doing so reclaimed a lead at the top of the men's overall standings. American Steven LoBue also repeated his best result of the season by taking second place, while 22-year-old wildcard and World Series debutante, Nikita Fedotov of Russia, produced a surprising but stunning performance to finish in third in front of 17,000 enthusiastic fans. In the women's, Cesilie Carlton of the US put a poor season behind her to fire to a first victory since 2015, with Australia's Helena Merten finishing in second place and German wildcard Anna Bader in third.

Much of the build up to this event had centred around Hunt's previous struggles from bridges at World Series events, as in four competitions from bridge into river he has failed to land on top of the podium, as well as his recent dip in form from 27m. But in one afternoon he proved the doubters wrong on both counts, returning to his brilliant best to hold off the roaring challenge of an inspired LoBue and grab his 30th victory in 64 stops.

Gary Hunt won his first World Series bridge competition at the fifth attempt in Mostar. Photo: Romina Amato/Red Bull Content Pool.

"I definitely felt like this was a really important competition when you look at the Series," said Hunt. "I arrived here and on the second day I read an article saying that I've never won a competition on a bridge and that kind of got to me and I said to myself 'okay, I'm going to show you I can dive off a bridge'.

"It's definitely exciting when the season is open on that last event. It's a very strange feeling to finish the season when it's already wrapped up. So it means it's going to be a super exciting and fun event, but I'll be carrying this victory with me and hopefully that confidence is going to help me win."

32-year-old LoBue, leading after the third round, showed no nerves as he delivered his difficult inward quint in the final dive of the day, but just fell short of the Brit by a few points. With three nines and two nine and a halves from the judges, Russia's Fedotov earned the highest scores of the day in his first ever World Series appearance, letting his great talent for acrobatic 3-second-manoeuvres shine through and completing the podium.

Russia's Nikita Fedotov became the first male wildcard to debut with a podium finish. Photo: Romina Amato/Red Bull Content Pool.

Following a somewhat low key season for Carlton, in which 6th place was her previous high from the 21m platform, the 36-year-old was once again inspired by the magic of Stari Most, reeling off a series of river-ripping dives to go one better than her second-place finish here last season. Merten and Bader have been no strangers to the podium this season, and again they showed unerring consistency at the shivery Neretva River to join Carlton in the champagne celebrations.

"This was a season of downs for me," admitted Carlton, "so I feel amazing today, I'm ecstatic. The season was terrible for me, so to come out and put four dives together, I'm beyond words. I'm so happy! The people here are amazing, the crowd is insane, you see them on the bridge and everywhere. It's a great atmosphere."

With Australia's Rhiannan Iffland missing the competition due to an injury in training, Adriana Jimenez has now closed the overall gap to the leader to just 60 points, although it could have been even closer if the Mexican had not made an error on her final dive, finishing in fourth.

Cesilie Carlton is congratulated by the injured Rhiannan Iffland after she returned to form to take victory at Stari Most. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

While in the women's it's certainly still all to play for going into the final stop at a new location in Chile in October, reigning champion Hunt now holds a 140-point lead ahead of Jonathan Paredes, who finished sixth. The Mexican as well as England's Blake Aldridge, who came to Bosnia and Herzegovina as the World Series leader, still will have a say in the title fight of this most competitive season yet.

Final Results:

Men

1- Gary Hunt (GBR) – 400.90pts
2- Steven LoBue (USA) – 393.85
3- Nikita Fedotov (W) (RUS) - 376.25
4- Kris Kolanus (POL) – 376.10
5- Alessandro De Rose (W) (ITA) – 364.10
6- Jonathan Paredes (MEX) – 363.30
7- Michal Navratil (CZE) – 356.30
8- Sergio Guzman (MEX) – 268.30
9- Miguel Garcia (W) (COL) – 254.80
10- Blake Aldridge (GBR) – 234.70
11- David Colturi (USA) – 232.00
12- Oleksiy Prygorov (W) (UKR) - 222.50
13- Orlando Duque (COL) – 205.40
14- Andy Jones (USA) - 179.00

Women

1- Cesilie Carlton (USA) – 316.40pts
2- Helena Merten (AUS) – 314.30
3- Anna Bader (W) (GER) – 280.50
4- Adriana Jimenez (MEX) – 275.50
5- Ginger Huber (USA) – 267.20
6- Yana Nestsiarava (W) (BLR) – 247.25
7- Eleanor Townsend Smart (W) (USA) – 114.40

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