Poland's Kris Kolanus kicked off the anniversary World Series with an exceptional display of diving to take his maiden victory at Hell's Gate in Texas, powering past Michal Navratil of the Czech Republic in second and Brit Blake Aldridge in third.
In the women's competition, Mexico's Adriana Jimenez just managed to hold off the swashbuckling challenge of British wildcard Jessica Macaulay to take her second ever win by just 0.1 points in what was the closest women's final ever. Germany's Anna Bader completed the podium as temperatures nudged 40°C down at a packed Possum Kingdom Lake, where 12.500 fans gathered on boats, kayaks and paddleboards to watch the action from up to 27m.
"It was a big surprise and a big challenge as well," said a delighted Jimenez. "I enjoyed it so much and wanted to finish the competition, enjoy the last dive. I didn't expect the results, because all the girls did amazing.
"If you look at the scores, there's nothing in between each other. Anna is my idol since I became a high diver; her style is simply unique. Jessica is very strong and very brave. More girls are coming and they'll step it up."
31-year-old Kolanus opened this year's account with a sensational victory in this landmark season to not only add his name to the elite list of event winners to make it 13, but also scoring the day's highest note for a dive and the highest competition total in the men's.
"That was the plan! I came here with my difficult dive list and stuck to my plan," said Kolanus. "Everything turned out perfectly. It's the highest score, so that's nice to hear that but I can still do slightly better, but I'm happy if every competition turns out like this one.
"I think I have one of the most difficult diving lists, only David (Colturi) has more DD, so if he performs his difficult dives well, then he'll be ahead. So that's the recipe."
Navratil grabbed his second straight podium after the 2017 season final in Chile, while Aldridge made it three podiums in a row in the fifth straight touch down in this venue to complete the first male podium of the year.
In a day full of surprises also in the women's, Jimenez's win was the closest margin in five years of the Women's World Series, thanks to a series of high-scoring efforts from the 33-year-old's rivals, and just 0.6 points separated the top four women. For the two-time winner in this location and overall champion, Rhiannan Iffland from Australia, fourth place means the second finish outside of the top 3 in 13 starts and it's the first time she starts a season without a victory.
Wildcard diver Macaulay was the surprise package of the US leg, securing the first ever podium for a female British diver in the World Series in only her second appearance. After her second round stunner from 21m, a back 3 somersaults, which broke the record for the highest scoring women's dive ever, the 25-year-old completed the 20th women's event on second place. Only 0.3 points behind, Germany's Anna Bader confirmed her return as a permanent athlete with her 6th podium finish.
Results - Stop #1, Texas | USA
1- Adriana Jimenez (MEX) - 302.20pts
2- Jessica Macaulay (W) (GBR) - 302.10
3- Anna Bader (GER) - 301.80
4- Rhiannan Iffland (AUS) - 301.60
5- Lysanne Richard (CAN) - 264.90
6- Yana Nestsiarava (BLR) - 258.05
7- Ginger Huber (USA) - 250.15
8- Maria Paula Quintero (W) (COL) - 224.60
9- Eleanor Townsend Smart (W) (USA) - 198.20
10- Irlanda Valdez (W) (MEX) - 183.85
1- Kris Kolanus POL - 424.85pts
2- Michal Navratil CZE - 394.90
3- Blake Aldridge GBR - 389.25
4- Andy Jones USA - 384.35
5- Sergio Guzman (W) MEX - 383.00
6- Steven LoBue USA - 379.35
7- Alessandro De Rose ITA - 373.20
8- Gary Hunt GBR - 370.50
9- David Colturi USA - 356.60
10- Jonathan Paredes MEX - 356.05
11- Orlando Duque COL - 338.20
12- Miguel Garcia (W) COL - 338.05
13- Nikita Fedotov (W) RUS - 331.20
14- Kyle Mitrione (W) USA - 259.25
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