New Season Promises to Pack a Punch

Orlando Duque in La Rochelle
Date: 10/05/2016

The world's best professional cliff divers face their biggest challenge yet when the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series returns on June 4 in Texas, USA, with the ever-growing complexity of dives pushing the limits of what is physically possible, while the addition of live TV coverage piles on the psychological pressure.

The platform is up to 28 metres high (92 feet) , the drop takes just 3 seconds, and the athletes reach speeds of 85 kilometres per hour (53 miles per hour) as they twist and somersault up to five times before impact. The only way to hit the water safely from that height is feet first, and even the slightest mistake in timing can mean a bruising experience for the men and women taking part.

"When you have a bad landing it can feel like an uppercut from Mike Tyson," explains Britain's five-times series champion Gary Hunt. "Any loss of concentration can be very painful."

The 2016 season is the eighth since the launch of the World Series in 2009 and for the first time every event will be broadcast live on Red Bull TV and stations around the world. The physical workload will be tougher than ever too, as the male athletes complete an Intermediate Dive to go with the Required Dive and the two Optional Dives, which feature ever higher degrees of difficulty.

Diving is a test of nerve as well as consistency and skill, with the men's platform almost three times that of the 10m board in Olympic diving.

As the athletes prepare to launch themselves from the platform, trained rescue divers wait in the water in case anything goes wrong. On land, Olympic gold medallists Greg Louganis of the United States and Russia's Dmitri Sautin are among the pool of judges scoring dives on execution.

Defending champion Gary Hunt will once again be the man to beat, while last year's runner-up Orlando Duque of Colombia still feels he can land a second Red Bull Cliff Diving title at the age of 41.

5-time winner Gary Hunt will be facing tough competition as he defends his title in 2016. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

The American Steven LoBue will be one of the most closely watched athletes. LoBue is known as the Turbo Spinner, and is the only athlete who performs five somersaults in the three seconds it takes to complete a dive.

Britain's Blake Aldridge, who was Tom Daley's synchro partner at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, has also been pushing the envelope. Aldridge racked up the highest ever degree of difficulty last year with a dive featuring 2 reverse somersaults and five twists.

On the women's side, America's Rachelle Simpson has so far appeared all but untouchable, winning the first two editions in 2014 and 2015 from the 20m platform. The former gymnast is a Texas native and is eager to see the sport grow. When she resumes competition on familiar territory.

"Now we have almost the same amount of competitions as the men. I think it will help people see that women are the real deal and not just an exhibition. It also gives us women the chance to cliff dive more and with more cliff diving comes more experience and a higher level of diving."

There will also be four wildcard invitations in each men's competition and two in the women's.

2016 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series Calendar
June 4             Texas, USA (women|men)
June 18           Copenhagen, DEN (men)
July 9              São Miguel, Azores, POR (women|men)
July 23            La Rochelle, FRA (men)
August 28        Polignano a Mare, ITA (women|men)
September 11   Pembrokeshire, Wales, GBR (women|men)
September 24  Mostar, BIH (women|men)
October 16      Shirahama, JPN (women|men)
October 28      Dubai, UAE (women|men)

Permanent divers MEN
Andy Jones, USA
Artem Silchenko, RUS
Blake Aldridge, GBR
David Colturi, USA
Gary Hunt, GBR
Jonathan Paredes, MEX
Michal Navratil, CZE
Orlando Duque, COL
Sergio Guzman, MEX
Steven LoBue, USA

Permanent divers WOMEN
Adriana Jimenez, MEX
Cesilie Carlton, USA
Ginger Leigh-Huber, USA
Helena Merten, AUS
Lysanne Richard, CAN
Rachelle Simpson, USA


Live Broadcast

Every event will be LIVE 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 an event or simply want to watch all the action again, a replay will be available on demand a few minutes after the event.

Note that the live webcasts and replays are geo-blocked in the US due to an exclusive broadcast deal with FOX Sports. Each event will air on FOX Sports 1 at a later date to be confirmed.