Lichtenstein, Smart Lead U.S. With Fifth-Place Finishes at High Diving World Cup
by USA Diving
FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida – James Lichtenstein and Ellie Smart led the United States with a pair of fifth-place finishes as the World Aquatics High Diving World Cup wrapped up Saturday at the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Center.
Lichtenstein finished fifth in men’s 27-meter high diving, and Smart was fifth in women’s 20-meter competition.
Nearly 60 divers from 20 countries participated in the High Diving World Cup.
Constantin Popovici of Romania won the men’s 27-meter gold with 473.90 points over four dives. Carlos Gimeno of Spain won silver with 454.40 points, and Gary Hunt of France took bronze at 438.15 points.
Lichtenstein led the U.S. men with 409.75 points for fifth. He was ninth after Friday’s first two rounds and moved to eighth after his first dive on Saturday. He was one of only six divers performing a dive with a degree of difficulty of 5.3 or higher in the last round.
“It was such an amazing atmosphere, so much fun. I just felt it buzzing in the final round. Everyone was so into it. I like to feed off the crowd to help give me energy for my dives,” Lichtenstein said.
He finished with 135.15 points on his back five somersaults tuck to move up to fifth in the final standings.
“My strengths are my optionals. I need to clean up my easier dives a little bit, but I knew that I was on a higher end for difficulty. I knew if I put that down well like I know how to that I’d move up some spots,” Lichtenstein said. “What I really like to do is stay to myself and not watch the competition until after I’m done, so I didn’t really know what the potential was. I’m really just glad I put my two hard dives down.”
David Colturi finished seventh at 403.80 for the U.S. men, and Matt Cooper placed 11th at 366.80. Andy Jones was 14th with 334.60, and Nathan Jimerson scored 318.20 points for 15th.
Canada’s Molly Carlson took the women’s 20-meter gold with 374.00 points after overtaking Australia’s Rhiannan Iffland, who had a narrow lead after Friday’s first two rounds. Iffland finished with 363.85 points for silver, and Canada’s Jessica Macaulay scored 325.70 points for bronze.
Smart led the U.S. women with 302.10 points for fifth, improving five spots in the standings after heading into Saturday’s competition in 10th place.
She was one of just three women performing a dive with 4.4 degree of difficulty in round four, and she came through with 90.20 points on her back double somersault with four twists to move up to fifth.
“I’m super happy with how I did. There were five American women competing and the top three would make the World Championships. I’ve been working on this new dive, the back double quad, and I was really weighing ‘Should I do it or should I not do it and play it safe?’ I’m really glad I decided to just go for it and do it and I’m super happy with a fifth-place finish,” Smart said.
Meili Carpenter scored 299.45 points to finish sixth, and Maria Smirnov was 14th at 238.10. Susanna Fish scored 223.40 points for 17th, and Genevieve Sangpan finished 18th at 211.15.
The World Aquatics High Diving World Cup served as a qualifier for this summer’s World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.