Deep Dive Episode 3: Somersaults and Twists

Rhiannan Iffland
These basic elements of a cliff dive are crucial to success and safety

Whether you're new to Red Bull Cliff Diving or a seasoned fan, this 7-part Deep Dive series, with Gary Hunt, Orlando Duque and Rhiannan Iffland will immerse you into every aspect of one of the world's most fascinating sports. Over these two weeks, all episodes will be released here along with a story related to each title.

Watch Episode 3: Somersaults and Twists above, and read on below to find out more.

They are the basic elements of a cliff dive, and if a diver wants to impress the judges and hit those high scores then their somersaults and twists must be flawless. Mistakes during these manoeuvres can be the difference not just between success and failure, but also between a safe entry and a crash.

"There are some divers who prefer twisting, and some who prefer somersaulting," says Orlando Duque, the recently retired legend of the sport. "In reality, to be at the top level, you have to be able to combine both."

Combining the two is important, but as Duque says, many athletes will build their biggest dives around one or the other. When it comes to twisting, England's Blake Aldridge is perhaps one of the biggest proponents of the technique over the last decade. He was the first diver ever to add a barely believable 5-twist dive to his repertoire. American Steven LoBue, on the other hand, has regularly dazzled crowds across the globe with his jaw-dropping quintuple somersaults.

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Blake Aldridge shows off his twisting skills. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

Whatever your weapon of choice, nail it and you'll give yourself the best chance of stepping on top of the podium. Fail it, and the results can be disastrous. Just ask 8-time World Series champion Gary Hunt, who would now have one extra King Kahekili Trophy in his possession had he not failed his final twisting dive at the season finale in 2017. Watching back the moment he lost his crown to Jonathan Paredes in Chile, Hunt melancholically explains what happened:

"The take-off felt good, the first two twists everything is going normal," recalls Hunt. "I stop the twist, take a quick look at the water and then wrap back in and it's just here I should come out. There my arms should already be out to the side but I've missed that exit and so here I am just trying to survive. I am just trying to get my feet down to the ground without hurting myself. It was a tough moment to live with afterwards. I didn't really have the chance to get back on the platform and build my confidence up until the next year so it was quite a tough winter."

For Hunt, the pain was all mental. On rare occasions though, athletes have gotten so lost in their dive that the result was a crashing entry into the water. Two such instances in recent memory are Sergio Guzman in 2017 and Manuel Halbisch last season, who both took heavy hits to the body during their quadruple somersaults. "The big mistake he made is he came out one somersault earlier," says Duque about Halbisch, while Hunt remarks "losing yourself in the air is one of the nightmares of every diver. You need to spot the water to know how to move your body and it can happen that you miss your spot."

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Sergio Guzman was back to his somersaulting best in Mostar in 2019 following his crash there two years earlier. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

Whether it's twists, somersaults, or a combination of the two, these basic elements of a cliff dive are clearly crucial for both success and safety.