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5 reasons to be excited for the 2022 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series
New locations, intriguing title tussles and a surprise season finale are all in store for this year’s Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series – get the lowdown right here.
Following an exciting and record-breaking comeback season in 2021, Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series returns this year with eight competitions planned at locations around the world.
While champions Gary Hunt and Rhiannan Iffland asserted their dominance yet again last year, claiming their ninth and fifth titles in the men’s and women’s categories, respectively, the signs are that this season promises to be one of the most competitive yet, as the world’s best cliff divers prepare to battle for the coveted King Kahekili trophies once more.
With those first leaps from up to 27 meters just a few months away now, here are five reasons why we simply cannot wait for the new season to begin.
Cliff diving with a view
Apart from the jaw-dropping aerial acrobatics on show from the cliff diving elite, one of the most alluring aspects of this sport is the long list of breathtaking locations where it's been staged. From idyllic spots like the Philippines and Hawaii, to bustling and landmark-laden city centers, the World Series has acted as a veritable sight-seeing tour over the past 12 seasons.
In 2022, following a return to the US city of Boston for the first time in nine years for the season opener in June, cliff diving will embark on a European capital city tour. Up first, it’s France, where Paris-resident Gary Hunt won’t need to travel far to dazzle his home fans at Port Debilly, right in front of the Eiffel Tower.
Then, in July, a fifth visit to Copenhagen for the men will also be the women’s first chance to launch themselves from the Danish city’s iconic Opera House. Rounding off the capital cruise in August will be Oslo, Norway, where another Opera House will provide the stage as the divers battle for crucial championship points.
Then the World Series will continue onto three classic locations – Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina, in late August, before Sisikon in Switzerland and Italy’s Polignano a Mare in September.
Challengers are eyeing up Gary Hunt’s crown
In the 12 seasons since it all began back in 2009, Gary Hunt has helped himself to nine World Series titles. He recently switched competitive allegiance to France, but the cliff diver formerly known as the ‘Brilliant Brit’ is showing no signs of changing his winning ways just yet. But despite the 37-year-old’s evergreen ability, there were signs last year that the chasing pack might just be raising their level enough to threaten his reign.
Also, for those fans who enjoy sporting omens, there’s one other augur that Hunt may be toppled this year. A quick look back over his record shows that those nine titles have all come in threes. Champion in 2010, 2011, 2012, runner-up in 2013; champion in 2014, 2015, 2016, runner-up in 2017; champion in 2018, 2019, 2021 (no World Series in 2020). Will this rule of three see a new champion crowned in 2022?
Who can break Iffland’s invincibility?
Australia’s Rhiannan Iffland is currently enjoying the type of winning streak very rarely seen in individual athletes. A stunning 13 successive World Series victories, stretching back to 2018, mean that the women’s chasing pack have got their work cut out again to reel in the five-time champion this season.
Just like in the men’s projected title fight, it looks like Iffland’s main challenge will come from two divers of the same nationality. Canada’s Jessica Macaulay has finished runner-up overall in the previous two seasons, and last year came within just 2.5 points of ending the Iffland’s winning streak in Puglia.
Her compatriot, Molly Carlson, burst onto the cliff diving scene in 2021, finishing in second place at the season opener in France before going on to take third place overall. Now a permanent athlete on the World Series, the 23-year-old can certainly step up another level this year.
The longest platform in history
While sportive records continue to fall season after season in this ever-developing sport, it will be an interesting record-breaker that grabs a share of the headlines when Oslo plays host in August. The platform, which was first unveiled at an exhibition event last year, extends 30 metres from the Opera House rooftop, making it the longest in World Series history.
Walking down this cliff diving runway will not only give the athletes plenty of time to lap up the applause of thousands of fans gathered below to watch, but it will also serve to ramp up the nerves before they leap.
A surprise finale
That’s right, we promised eight locations around the world, but you’ve only counted seven so far. That’s because, for now, we’re keeping the scene of this year’s grand finale under wraps. Sorry to tease, but cliff diving fans will have to wait just a little longer for the big reveal. Just to whet your appetite, though, we can confirm that it’s a brand-new location on the World Series calendar. Watch this space!