British Diver Gary Hunt Claims the Champion Title at the Red Bull Cliff Diving

Artem Silchenko wins final in Ukraine, Gary Hunt receives 2011 overall title

Three 10s for one dive and more than 500 points in total – Artem Silchenko broke a personal and a World Series record at the grand final of the 2011 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Yalta, Ukraine. At the seventh and culminating competition, the Russian made it to the top of the podium for the first time this year, beating the reigning World Series champion Gary Hunt (GBR) by more than 50 points. With today’s victory, he secured his second overall place in front of 15,000 fans on boats, rocks and the beach surrounding Swallow’s Nest castle.

From the remote Island of Rapa Nui to Central and North America and back to Europe – a season of the unexpected saw a great showdown on the Crimean peninsula, where the ‘brilliant Brit’ Gary Hunt defended his overall title and only the top six high divers pre-qualified for next season.

It was an exciting last competition with a Ukrainian leader after yesterday’s first round, an overall champion who moved up eight positions between round one and four and a victor who was over the moon to win the first high diving competition in a Russian-speaking country. 27-year-old Silchenko claimed no fewer than six 10s for his performance on Sunday at high noon to earn 518.30 points from the judges, the highest score in 21 World Series competitions to date: “I’ve been second four times this year and now I’ve beaten Gary Hunt – it feels great! I’m so, so happy. I’m from the Soviet Union so it feels like I’m born in this country too. This is my best ever. I’ve shown my best dives. It is hard to tell you how I’m feeling. I did not want to see Gary’s last dive, I was concentrating only on my own. I got so many 10s – give me the dive sheet so I can count them all! This is my record.”

Gary Hunt, the World Series champion from England, came second and proudly collected his second trophy after 2010: “I’m extremely happy, although it’s a little bit disappointing not to finish the final competition with a win. Artem dived amazingly today, he was almost unbeatable, but looking at the Series as a whole I’m ecstatic. It’s been quite a year. The dives are getting more difficult, the divers are getting more talented. It’s improving all the time. Qualification for next year already looks like it’s going to be one of the most difficult competitions and that will be one to watch.“ The Czech Republic’s Michal Navratil confirmed third place in the Series by taking the final place on the podium in Ukraine. Sasha Kutsenko finished fourth in his home event and Cyrille Oumedjkane (FRA) and Alain Kohl (LUX), fifth and sixth respectively, secured places in the overall top six. The Series’ most senior athlete Slava Polyeshchuk, from Ukraine, completes the 2011 top six classified with his fourth overall rank. Besides these divers, 2009 World Series champion and winner of the season’s first two competitions Orlando Duque (COL) – currently recovering from a broken ankle sustained in a non-diving accident – automatically advance to next year. Everybody else will have to undergo qualification together with new talent at the beginning of next year to decide the participants for 2012.

Between March and September the third season of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series saw three different winners in seven challenging competitions, featured three rookies and a lot of other surprises along the way: a tsunami evacuation in Easter Island, the injury of the two-times winner Orlando Duque in April, wind gusts up to 80kph in France on competition day, lightning in Boston that interrupted the opening round and a successful season wrap up on the shore of the Black Sea. The ornate castle overlooking the Cape of Ai-Todor provided the perfect backdrop for the crowning of this year’s champion amongst the elite group of the world’s best cliff divers.

The calendar for 2012 will come up with new and extraordinary venues that guarantee more jaw-dropping diving action from 27 metres into concrete like water. Details will be available within the next weeks on the official website

1. Gary Hunt | GBR | 125 pts
2. Artem Silchenko | RUS | 91 pts (DNS in stop 2)
3. Michal Navratil | CZE | 77 pts
4. Slava Polyeshchuk | UKR | 65 pts
5. Cyrille Oumedjkane | FRA | 54 pts
6. Alain Kohl | LUX | 52 pts
7. Sasha Kutsenko | UKR | 43 pts
8. Orlando Duque | COL | 40 pts (injured after stop 2)
8. Kent De Mond | USA | 40 pts
10. Steven LoBue | USA | 33 pts (DNS in stop 4)
11. Jorge Ferzuli | MEX | 31 pts
12. Hassan Mouti | FRA | 14 pts (DNS in stop 4 & 7, DNF in stop 6)