At a gusty Grimstad on Friday, the first round of competition dives took place, with the winner advancing automatically to the final of the second stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series.
With only 13 divers competing in Norway, due to an injury to Jorge Ferzuli, it meant the possibility of a bye to Saturday's eight-man final and an extra incentive for the winner of the opening round.
In tricky conditions, with wind speeds of up to 50kph, it was Gary Hunt who showed best. The Englishman, who excels usually with the more difficult dives in later rounds, executed his first required dive, a triple half, for 8.5s from the judges to put him in first place – and on course for another victory in Norway, following his first success here in 2010.
"When I knew there was a spot available to get straight through to the final that was what I was aiming for and it feels great to go from the ’lucky loser‘ position in Corsica to straight into the final here," said Hunt. "We’ve dealt with more serious conditions than these, like last year in La Rochelle. I did one dive in training and it didn’t feel too strong so I didn’t let it affect me."
The 12 other divers competing in the second stop of the 2012 World Series will have a much harder afternoon ahead of them in order to qualify for the last phase of competition as six head-to-heads decide the make-up of the final.
With the weather windy and overcast, the divers decided to postpone further practice until before the competition on Saturday when conditions are expected to improve - both for the athletes and the many spectators on boats who are expected to flood the bay in front of the 27m platform in Barselkilen ahead of the 12.30pm start.
Scores from Round One:
1. Gary Hunt (UK) 90.00pts
2. Michal Navratil (CZE) 88.20pts
3. Steven LoBue (USA) 86.40pts
4. Kent De Mond (USA) 84.60pts
5. Anatoliy Shabotenko (UKR) 84.60pts
6. Orlando Duque (COL) 82.80pts
7. Artem Silchenko (RUS) 81.00pts
8. Kris Kolanus (POL) 75.60pts
9. Todor Spasov (BUL) 72.00pts
10. David Colturi (USA) 70.20pts
11. Alain Kohl (LUX) 64.80pts
12. Cyrille Oumedjkane (FRA) 63.00pts
13. Blake Aldridge (UK) 41.40pts
Michal Navratil (2nd) v Blake Aldridge (13th)
Steven LoBue (3rd) v Cyrille Oumedjkane (12th)
Kent De Mond (4th) v Alain Kohl (11th)
Anatoliy Shabotenko (5th) v David Colturi (10th)
Orlando Duque (6th) v Todor Spasov (9th)
Artem Silchenko (7th) v Kris Kolanus (8th)