Ready for Life’s Challenges

Jessica Macaulay and Ellie Smart
Date: 08/03/2021

Diving from 20m – think of looking straight down from a 6-storey building – into a choppy sea with no security net prepares you for so much more than just a heavy impact. It's self-confidence, mental strength and physical control that allows the women of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series to take the leap and make the landing soft and sound. All of us can translate these skills and competences into our day-to-day routines facing life's challenges.

Extreme sports athletes are extreme individualists, but they share some fundamentals. Read below to get inspired by this group of smart and bold women.

Describe yourself in 3 words:

Ellie Smart: Determined, focused, passionate.

Iris Schmidbauer: Dance monkey, determined, adventurous.

Jaki Valente: Euphoric, fearless, determined.

Jessica Macaulay: Passionate, courageous, free spirited.

Lysanne Richard: As it is always said in the live TV - mother of 3!!! Just kidding but of course mother is one of my 3 words, probably also - hard worker and positive.

Maria Paula Quintero: Brave, happy, persistent.

Rhiannan Iffland: Fun lover, adventurous, chilled.

Yana Nestsiarava: Clumsy, diver, realist.

Brave, happy, persistent... That's Maria Paula Quintero in three words. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

Listen to Maria Paula in conversation with Orlando Duque during a recent episode of his cliff diving podcast below.

Which role model influenced you on a personal and sportive level?

Ellie: On the female side this is Lysanne Richard. I mean is there anything that woman cannot do? She is an amazing mom, fought back from a serious injury, and has maintained the most positive and optimistic mindset through it all! It is an absolute inspiration diving alongside her. She just proves that anything is possible if you truly believe in yourself.

Jaki: Knowing what it takes to be up on a cliff and diving from it, it's hard to choose only one hero. Honestly, all of the girls and boys who do cliff diving are my heroes, they inspire me, they teach me, they share a feeling that just a cliff diver can explain. I take my hat off to all of them!

Jessica: When I saw Gary Hunt diving, I was so blown away by his talent and his ability to overcome that fear and do that crazy thing that nobody has ever done before. I was also really impressed by all the women getting up there and pushing themselves and I wanted to be one of those strong women who got up on that platform and did things that other people weren't doing.

Lysanne: Ginger Huber. She is the best and the most beautiful acrobat that I ever met. She is a precious friend and a model for me. I am even more impressed by these human values than by the acrobatic talent, although I am amazed by both.

Rhiannan: Growing up, I would probably say two of the athletes that I looked up to would one be Loudy Tourky, she was a 10-meter diver. And from an overall perspective as a female, or a young girl in sport, would be surfer Layne Beachley, 6-time world champion. I think they were the two athletes that I aspired to be something like.

Yana: My parents, who always found a way to channel my energy into a meaningful way of life. They introduced me to the pool and there I found my second family and diving became my life.

An inspiration to each other... Iris Schmidbauer watches Ellie Smart dive in Mostar. Photo: Romina Amato/Red Bull Content Pool.

Why cliff diving and not ballet?

Ellie: Ballet is way too mainstream.

Yana: Ballet is elegance; elegance and I are incompatible things.

Iris: Cliff diving is so much cooler than ballet!

Jessica: I love cliff diving because it makes my hands sweat. Every time I think about it I get excited. I love to dance too, but just for fun.

Lysanne: Because I like adrenaline and to challenge myself.

Maria Paula: I hate ballet! It's for princesses and not warriors.

Rhiannan: Well, I am a horrible dancer, cliff diving is definitely more appealing to me, I love the locations and the adrenaline rush, which I would most likely not find in a ballet studio.

"Elegance and I are incompatible"... Well we disagree, Yana. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

What's the most important asset in cliff diving?

Ellie: Being brave.

Iris: Bravery.

Jaki: It's a combo of mental strength and body control, to try to define perfection in less than 3 seconds. Be powerful, show difficulty, be graceful, chase the adrenaline and always seek the perfect dive.

Jessica: Self-confidence.

Lysanne: Aerial awareness.

Maria Paula: Mental strength.

Rhiannan: To be courageous, persistent and respect the height.

Yana: Decisiveness!

4 titles in 4 seasons... Rhiannan Iffland is the definition of persistence. Photo: Romina Amato/Red Bull Content Pool.

Listen to Rhiannan and Orlando chat in an episode of his podcast below.

What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?

Ellie: Just keep working hard.

Yana: Enjoy your time as a child!

Jaki: Keep doing what you like, dedicate yourself to your passion for the sport and enjoy each day with great joy and the disposition of a child full of energy.

Jessica: Be yourself and love yourself!

Maria Paula: Insist, persist and never desist. Remember that discipline beats talent. Concentrate, love and enjoy what you do.

Rhiannan: Enjoy every moment of your career; realize that there will be good and bad times. Anything is possible.

Lysanne: Appreciate every moment.

Lysanne Richard appreciates every moment even more following her amazing comeback from a serious neck injury in 2017. Find out more in this clip:

What's your main goal for the 2021 World Series?

Ellie: Requalify for the Series.

Yana: First, I just want to come back, be in a good shape mentally and physically and like this I will certainly enjoy the possibility to dive from great heights again!

Iris: Making the podium, finishing top 5 overall. More consistency in my dives throughout the year.

Jaki: Keep healthy and mentally prepared to compete in a good and consistent season with dives, scores and places. And of course enjoy being back with my Red Bull Cliff Diving family again to the fullest!

Jessica: My goal is to be consistent, grab as many podiums as possible and win a stop.

Lysanne: My goal for 2021 is always to dive at my best and keep managing every challenge such as keeping some good quality family time. I also wish to push my sport to another level by keeping discovering and diving in new places. I want to do things never done before in our sport, new projects. I also want to keep being available for all the other athletes and support each other.

Rhiannan: My main goal of 2021 is to not focus too much on my main goal. (5th World Series title.) I feel that approach helps me stay in a better mental place, and not miss out on all the small opportunities that come about on the way.

Jaki Valente (second left) can't wait to be back with her cliff diving family again this year. Photo: Romina Amato/Red Bull Content Pool.