Australian wildcard and World Series debutante, Rhiannan Iffland, thrilled the crowds in Texas, USA on Saturday as she put in a magical diving display from 20m and upset the odds with a stunning victory. In an equally dramatic men's event, it was Mexico's Jonathan Paredes who delivered a close to perfect dive to take the top spot ahead of Brit Blake Aldridge and Czech Michal Navratil from the 27.5m platform. Two-time Texas winner Gary Hunt could not complete his hat trick of wins here despite performing the world's most difficult dive.
On a blazing day at Hell's Gate, 12,000 fans sailed over to Possum Kingdom Lake to witness a truly amazing start to the 2016 season, and bouyed by the great weather and spectacular entertainment they helped to create an unforgettable atmosphere.
He has the lowest degree of difficulty in the World Series, but his diving technique is immaculate and has already earned him the nickname 'style master'; today the 26-year-old Mexican dove to excellence when he performed his final dive for four times the highest score (10) from the judges. Completing the podium were former Olympian Blake Aldridge from Great Britain and, only the slightest of margins (0.35pts.) behind, Czech World Series veteran Michal Navratil, who came back from a shoulder surgery in the off-season.
5-time World Series champion Gary Hunt put down the most difficult dive in the history of diving, the front 3 somersaults with 4½ twists free, with a degree of difficulty of 6.4 after 2½ years in the making. With a higher difficulty than any other athlete, the Brit moved from 12th place after the first rounds to finish on 4th in the season's first of nine competitions.
Over to the women's, it was an Australian newcomer duo that set new standards from two-times the Olympic height in the season's very first stop. Rhiannan Iffland, a complete rookie to the World Series, pulled off her dives to finish 10.40 points ahead of Texan Cesilie Carlton. In third place the youngest diver, 21-year-old Helena Merten from Australia set a mark with a third-placed finish in her first competition as a permanent diver. Rachelle Simpson, two-time Women's World Series champion, could not hat trick in her home event after two victories in previous years, and only finished in 6th place.
Thousands of fans on boats, paddleboards and kayaks crowded the water at the daunting Hell's Gate to cheer for the 22 athletes and their first cliff dives at speeds in excess of 85kmh in the 2016 season. From the state where everything's bigger, Texas, the cliff diving elite travels to Copenhagen, Denmark, for the second competition in two-weeks' time.
Results Men, Stop #1 Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas | USA
1 Jonathan Paredes, MEX - 509.15pts.
2 Blake Aldridge, GBR - 495.85
3 Michal Navratil, CZE - 495.50
4 Gary Hunt, GBR - 486.00
5 Alessandro De Rose (W), ITA - 482.70
6 Orlando Duque, COL - 480.15
7 David Colturi, USA - 448.40
8 Artem Silchenko, RUS - 430.85
9 AndyJones, USA - 324.60
10 Kris Kolanus (W), POL - 317.10
11 Steven LoBue, USA - 316.35
12 Kyle Mitrione (W), USA - 310.20
13 Miguel Garcia (W), COL - 303.30
14 Sergio Guzman, MEX - 247.60
Results Women, Stop #1 Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas | USA
1 Rhiannan Iffland (W), AUS - 251.50pts.
2 Cesilie Carlton, USA - 241.10
3 Helena Merten, AUS - 236.80
4 Adriana Jimenez, MEX - 230.10
5 Lysanne Richard, CAN - 229.90
6 Rachelle Simpson, USA - 209.20
7 Ginger Huber, USA - 192.05
8 Tara Hyer-Tira (W), USA - 130.20