Over the past three seasons since its inception, the women's world championship has rapidly grown into an exciting and integral part of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series. While the first two seasons were dominated by American Rachelle Simpson, 2016 saw an explosion in quality and competitiveness and the emergence of new contenders for the crown, most notably Australia's Rhiannan Iffland, who defied her wildcard status to stun the sport and take the title.
With the new season fast approaching, the expectation is that once again the women will leap to another level and provide yet more thrills and drama as they prepare to compete at every stop alongside the men for the first time. Here we take a closer look at three of the top contenders who will battle it out for glory in 2017.
Rhiannan Iffland (AUS)
Only 12 months ago Rhiannan Iffland was preparing to compete at her first ever Red Bull Cliff Diving competition in the 2016 season opener in Texas, not knowing if she would join the world's best female divers at one, two, three or more stops due to her wildcard status. A stunning win in the USA secured her place at the remaining six events, and from there the girl from New South Wales went from strength to strength, winning four more and never being off the podium. Iffland's trampolining experience has no doubt given her an advantage in terms of aerial awareness and form, and she will be aiming to cement her place at the top of the sport with a repeat performance this season.
Thoughts for 2017:
"For me it is an amazing opportunity to take part in the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, to compete alongside so many courageous and amazing athletes from a number of countries, and to be given the opportunity to travel to fantastic destinations all over the world to compete in a sport that I thoroughly enjoy is a dream come true."
• 2016 - Red Bull Cliff Diving Women's World Series champion
• 2016 - 1st Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Texas (USA), Azores (POR), Pembrokeshire (GBR), Shirahama (JPN) and Dubai (UAE)
Lysanne Richard (CAN)
Coming almost out of nowhere in 2016, 35-year-old Lysanne Richard propelled herself into an unforgettable season in which she pushed the sensational Rhiannan Iffland all the way in a pulsating title battle. The lively mother-of-three found herself on the podium five times, twice at the top of it, and is most certainly a major contender for the women's crown this season. The Cirque du Soleil acrobat began cliff diving in 2010 and names American Ginger Huber as her cliff diving hero.
Thoughts for 2017:
"I've trained a lot, I improved, I am confident. This is what I want to do; I am where I want me to be. I am grateful for this adventure. We will have the time of our life!"
• 2016 - 1st Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Polignano a Mare (ITA) and Mostar (BIH)
• 2016 - Winner High Diving World Cup
• 2015 - 2nd Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Texas (USA, wildcard)
• 2011 - Women winner Tuxtla
• 2004 - Graduate from National Circus School of Montreal
• Character and acrobat with Cirque du Soleil, since 2005
• Circus and high diving shows in Canada, United States, Bermuda, Mexico, Dominican Republic, France, Spain, Italy, Russia, Scotland, Oman and Japan
Cesilie Carlton (USA)
36-year-old Cesilie Carlton has finished third overall in each of the last two seasons, and in 2017 the American will be hoping to finally land her first world championship title. The super-fit Texan - who works as a high diver on the Harmony of the Seas, a cruise ship - was the first FINA world champion and also the first-ever Red Bull Cliff Diving wildcard winner in 2015. Can she make it a personal first in the upcoming season and propel herself to glory?
Thoughts for 2017:
"My goal for the new season is to perfect the dives I'm doing, and be consistent from start to finish."
• 2016 - 2nd Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Possum Kingdom Lake (USA) and Mostar (BIH)
• 2015 - 1st Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in São Miguel, Azores (POR) as a wildcard
• 2014 - 3rd Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Possum Kingdom Lake (USA)
• 2013 - FINA High Diving World Champion
• Njcaa spring board champion 1 and 3 meter
• Level 10 competitor gymnastics
• EFSL swimming championships youngest competitor