Multiple hopefuls for the men's title, a wildcard-gone-champion as title-defender in the women's and six tough and testing competitions to outperform the finest cliff divers – the fight for glory in the World Series' ninth season is arguably the most unpredictable to date. Three seconds of acrobatic free fall at venues ranging from natural wonders and visual feasts to historic cities and unknown grounds will push the boundaries of this rapidly progressing sport again in 2017. Beginning in June, this pure extreme sport will hit new as well as proven waters across Europe and North America before crowning two new champions at an original location in South America in October.
New to the tour this year is Chile's Lago Ranco, where the 2017 season concludes with the grand final. But before the divers get to experience this new stop, the world-class athletes of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series launch themselves from heights of 27 m | 90 ft. (men) and 21 m | 70 ft. (women), reaching speeds of up to 85km/h | 53mph in the countries of Ireland, Portugal, Italy, the USA and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The season's first dives from nearly three times the height of the Olympic platform take place surrounded by Irish wilderness at the fabled 'Serpent's Lair' on the Aran Island's Inis Mór. From the near-perfect rectangle on the edges of Europe, the World Series travels on to a real classic - the phenomenal rocks of Portugal's Azores island of São Miguel, where the athletes dive straight from the volcanic cliffs. In mid July, the athletes have to walk through a private living room to reach the platforms atop the Adriatic Seas in Polignano a Mare in the very south of Italy.
After a summer break, the World Series returns to Texas and the visual feast of two towering cliffs called Hell's Gate at Possum Kingdom Lake in September. From this massive water reservoir in the US, the penultimate stop awaits the athletes with the chilly waters below Stari Most, the old bridge of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where diving from great heights has been a tradition for centuries. October takes the cliff diving elite to completely new grounds in southern Chile. During the first ever World Series competition at the Riñinahue waterfall, surrounded by snowcapped volcanoes, the King Kahekili Trophy will be awarded to the 2017 champions.
2017 might become the most competitive season in the history of Red Bull Cliff Diving, after last year raised the bar with multiple winners in the men's division. Although 6-time champion Gary Hunt from England is the one to catch, it's all up for grabs this season. Competition is expected mainly from Mexico's 'ripping machine' Jonathan Paredes, who used his fine diving technique to regularly rip his entries and finish runner-up in 2016, as well as Andy Jones, from the US, whose outstanding aerial awareness helped him win the Series' first ever night event last October and complete the overall podium. Meanwhile, former Russian World Series champion and 11-time event winner Artem Silchenko is forced into wildcard status after a roller-coaster 2016 season and will demonstrate his talent once more as an invitee.
However, even a wildcard can take the crown, as proven by Australia's Rhiannan Iffland, who ended her debut season with five successes in seven competitions, wrapping up the 2016 Red Bull Cliff Diving Women's World Series title. With four dives per competition as compared to three up to now, the women's division is expected to raise the standards in its 4th fully-fledged season and will see a comeback of Germany's exceptional diver Anna Bader after her baby-break.
The World Series, with its ever-growing complexity, asked for a new degree of difficulty table as an adjustment to the sport's recent evolutions and includes - amongst other changes implemented by the sports committee and aligned with FINA - new DDs (Degree of Difficulty) to rate all dives performed in competition according to their difficulty. The pushing of the limits of what is physically possible, as well as the lengthening list of winners and increasing competition at the top, will continue in 2017, when this most recognized series of competitions will once again stay true to its fundamentals.
2017 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series Calendar
June 24 - Inis Mór, Ireland
July 9 - São Miguel, Azores, Portugal
July 23 - Polignano a Mare, Italy
September 3 - Texas, USA
September 16 - Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
October 21 - Lago Ranco, Chile