Mexico's Jonathan Paredes secured the lead after two rounds for the third stop in a row in Polignano a Mare, but it was local hero Alessandro De Rose who wowed the crowds to take second place in the standings ahead of America's Andy Jones in third. In the women's it was reigning champion Rhiannan Iffland of Australia who performed best on day one to take top spot ahead of German wildcard Anna Bader in second, with Ginger Huber of the USA completing the top three heading into Sunday's final rounds.
For the 'stylemaster' Paredes, it's a case of déjà vu as another immaculate first day of diving means once again he'll hold the lead going into the final rounds, just as he did at the first two stops of the season in Ireland and Portugal. On both previous occasions the 27-year-old fell at the final hurdle when attempting his new dive, a Forward 4 Somersaults 1 1/2 Twists, but will be hoping he can make it third time lucky in the European home of cliff diving.
"It's all about my new dive," said Paredes. "It didn't work good in the last two competitions, but I'm crossing my fingers and really hope that tomorrow can be the day."
Jonathan Paredes nailed his first two dives once again to surge into the lead in Polignano a Mare. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.
On a blisteringly hot day in the south of Italy, a large crowd turned out to watch the world's best cliff divers, and it was one of their own who had them roaring with delight on the beach and on the rocks. Alessandro De Rose, the only Italian diver in the World Series, pulled out a pair of stunning dives to defy his wildcard status and leap into second place in the overnight standings, and later gave credit to the fans for his performance: "Every time that we dive anywhere else, we are by ourselves on the platform," explained De Rose, "but here I have all these people giving me the power and I dive with them." The 25-year-old, who was also in inspired form here last year when he finished fourth, will now attempt to go one better and grab his first ever podium on home soil.
Powered on by his adoring fans, Italy's Alessandro De Rose will begin the final rounds on Sunday in second place. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.
Reigning champion, Gary Hunt, has a little bit of work to do on Sunday to propel himself up the standings from 10th place, but having rallied from last to third in the Azores the 'brilliant Brit' can never be ruled out. Forever one to push the boundaries, the six-time World Series champion has opted to switch his second round intermediate dive at every event, but when he pulls out the big guns in the final rounds anything can happen.
In the women's competition, Rhiannan Iffland rediscovered the form she lost briefly in Portugal to fire herself into the lead after two dives, and is in prime position to at least reclaim a spot on the podium, something she missed out on for the first time in nine events two weeks ago.
"Portugal was tough for me," admitted Iffland, "but I just wanted to come in here with that attitude that I had last year and just enjoy it. Naturally the pressure of being champion is building a little bit as we're reaching the middle of the season, but I'm trying to just brush it off and remember I'm doing this because it's my passion."
Anna Bader leaps from the 21 metre platform in front of a crowded beach. Photo: Romina Amato/Red Bull Content Pool.
Snapping at the Australian's heels in second place is wildcard Anna Bader. The 33-year-old German, who missed last season to have her first baby with fellow cliff diver Kris Kolanus, followed up her amazing third-place in the Azores with another confident start on the Adriatic.
With two rounds to go on Sunday, anything can still happen as this unpredictable season reaches it's mid-way point. Crucial championship points are up for grabs, and a crowd of many thousands is expected to descend on this beautiful spot where houses rise from the cliffs and two more heroes will rise to the top of the podium.
Standings after Round 2
MEN (after 2 of 4 rounds)
1 – Jonathan Paredes (MEX) – 166.90pts.
2 – Alessandro De Rose (W) (ITA) – 163.20
3 – Andy Jones (USA) – 162.80
4 – David Colturi (USA) – 159.20
5 – Michal Navratil (CZE) – 157.80
6 – Kris Kolanus (POL) – 155.00
7 – Artem Silchenko (W) (RUS) – 150.20
8 – Blake Aldridge (GBR) – 148.00
8 – Orlando Duque (COL) – 148.00
10 – Gary Hunt (GBR) – 147.40
11 – Sergio Guzman (MEX) – 146.00
12 – Viktar Masklouski (W) (BLR) – 137.80
13 – Steven LoBue (USA) – 118.80
14 – Owen Weymouth (W) (GBR) – 117.80
WOMEN (after 2 of 4 rounds)
1 – Rhiannan Iffland (AUS) – 151.10pts.
2 – Anna Bader (W) (GER) – 148.20
3 – Ginger Huber (USA) – 138.30
4 – Jaki Valente (W) (BRA) – 133.75
5 – Helena Merten (AUS) – 131.30
6 – Adriana Jimenez (MEX) – 126.75
7 – Cesilie Carlton (USA) – 115.70
8 – Eleanor Townsend Smart (W) (USA) – 112.30
Watch Live from Polignano a Mare
This event will be LIVE on July 23 from 15.45 local time (13.45 GMT) on www.redbullcliffdiving.com, Red Bull TV and Facebook. 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.