Day one of the seventh stop of the 2016 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Mostar threw up a surprise in the women's competition, as Yana Nestsiarava surged into a strong lead ahead of Australian rookies Rhiannan Iffland and Helena Merten. In the men's event, recent winner Michal Navratil continued his impressive form from Wales and once again finds himself in a share of the lead, joined at the top of the overnight standings by reigning champion Gary Hunt.
Belarusian Nestsiarava, appearing in only her second event of the season following a fifth-place finish in the Portuguese Azores, impressed the judges with a sensational second round dive from the 21.5m platform perched on the historic and bustling Stari Most bridge.
"I feel cold," laughed the 24-year-old, referrring to the chilly waters of the Neretva river, and seemingly unfazed by the lofty position she holds heading in Saturday's final round. "I still don't have a lot of experience with this dive, but I'm happy that I had a good entry. I don't know about tomorrow, but everything is possible so we will see."
Rhiannan Iffland, the current women's leader, once again displayed quality and consistency in both her dives on Friday and will certainly fancy her chances of making it four wins out of five this season in Saturday's final.
In the men's competition, it was Navratil who picked up where he left off at Blue Lagoon in Wales, following up that maiden victory with a fantastic first round dive here which powered the Czech to the top of the standings.
"That win gave me confidence going into the final few stops," said the 31-year-old, "but it also made me want to prove that it wasn't just luck. All season I have felt at the same level, and two times I missed second place by less than one point. I feel strong and finally I'm confident with all my dives."
5-time champion Gary Hunt joins the Czech showman at the top of the standings after nailing his new Back 3 Somersaults dive, picking up 8s and 9s from the judges.
"I'm very happy," beamed the Brit. "This is a new dive for me and it's been up and down all season, but I did enough today to secure the top spot and a tie with Michal. Last season I picked up an injury here in training, but I've been strengthening my legs against that type of injury all year and this time I'm ready to put on a good performance and take the top spot on the podium."
Thousands of passionate fans are expected to descend on this beautiful location for Saturday's final rounds, and the athletes can expect a fantastic atmosphere as they battle for victory from the historic bridge.
Men's Standings after Round 1:
1-Michal Navratil (CZE) – 119.60pts
1-Gary Hunt (GBR) – 119.60
3-Alessandro De Rose (W) (ITA) - 117.30
4-Steven LoBue (USA) – 115.00
5-David Colturi (USA) – 112.70
6-Blake Aldridge (GBR) – 110.40
7-Jonathan Paredes (MEX) – 109.65
8-Sergio Guzman (MEX) – 103.20
9-Andy Jones (USA) – 101.20
10-Artem Silchenko (RUS) – 101.20
11-Todor Spasov (W) (BUL) - 96.75
12-Orlando Duque (COL) – 89.70
13-Kyle Mitrione (W) (USA) - 71.30
14-Viktar Maslouski (W) (BLR) – 62.35
Women's Standings after Round 2:
1-Yana Nestsiarava (W) (BLR) – 155.80pts
2-Rhiannan Iffland (W) (AUS) – 149.10
3-Helena Merten (AUS) – 148.05
4-Cesilie Carlton (USA) – 146.50
5-Lysanne Richard (CAN) – 142.30
6-Ginger Huber (USA) – 138.80
7-Adriana Jimenez (MEX) – 131.95
8-Rachelle Simpson (USA) – DNS
Watch it Live
This event will be LIVE on September 24 from 2.20 PM CET on www.redbullcliffdiving.com and Red Bull TV. Red Bull TV is available on connected TVs, gaming consoles, mobile devices and more. Find out more at about.redbull.tv
If you miss the event or simply want to watch all the action again, the replay will be available on demand a few minutes after the event.
Note that the live webcast and replay is geo-blocked in the US due to an exclusive broadcast deal with FOX Sports. The event will air on FS1 at 10.30am (ET) on October 30.