Three new faces, all of them under the age of 24, have secured places in the sport's most prestigious series, together with established cliff divers Michal Navratil and former Olympian Blake Aldridge, in a breathtaking qualification competition on the Hawkesbury River in Cattai, New South Wales, Australia.
In front of more than 1,000 die-hard fans, the qualifier determined which five of the 13 athletes would go forward to compete in the 2013 World Series.
Held over two days with eight dives from 26m by each athlete, just 4.30 points was the difference between being a member of the 2013 cliff diving elite and narrowly missing out – the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2013 is now ready for the kick-off in May.
A rising star, and the youngest athlete of them all, Jonathan Paredes, from Mexico, claimed his spot impressively in his second qualification attempt after 2012 with the highest overall score of 863.75pts.
In the very last round he pushed Michal Navratil (CZE), one of only two 2012 World Series divers in the top five, in what is a rapidly evolving sport, off the top position.
The UK's Blake Aldridge, another athlete from 2012 who regained his place, finished in third ahead of Anatoliy Shabotenko, the impressive Ukrainian who made a big impact as a wildcard in 2012.
The day's biggest surprise, however, was newcomer Matt Cowen from Leeds, England. Jumping from 10th to fifth in the last round, the 24-year-old capitalised on slip-ups from some of the better placed competitors, outperforming the likes of veteran Frenchman Cyrille Oumedjkane, who missed out on qualification by just 4.30 points.
A tough competition in tough conditions – the divers striving to make the cut for the pinnacle of cliff diving competition not only had to push themselves until the very last dive but also had to deal with gusts of wind, rain and cold temperatures on the final day of competition.
Applauded by a crowd of more than 1,000 spectators on boats and lining the river bank, the winners were decided during a total of 96 thrilling three-second falls.
With the 2013 World Series line-up now confirmed, the attention will very soon switch to La Rochelle – the French port which will host the first of eight global competitions in 2013 on May 25!
QUALIFICATION COMPETITION RESULTS
1. Jonathan Paredes | MEX | 863.75pts (Q)
2. Michal Navratil | CZE | 862.70pts (Q)
3. Blake Aldridge | UK | 835.60pts (Q)
4. Anatoliy Shabotenko | UKR | 831.50pts (Q)
5. Matt Cowen | UK | 794.20pts (Q)
6. Cyrille Oumedjkane | FRA | 789.90pts
7. Jorge Ferzuli | MEX | 781.90pts
8. Kent De Mond | USA | 780.75pts
9. Hassan Mouti | FRA | 758.45pts
10. Kris Kolanus | POL | 742.30pts
11. Alain Kohl | LUX | 703.80pts
12. Andy Jones | USA | 679.10pts
13. Todor Spasov | BUL | DNS