Spectacular finale to the 2017 Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series at Lake Ranco

Jonathan Paredes. Photo: Samo Vidic/Red Bull Content PoolJonathan Paredes. Photo: Samo Vidic/Red Bull Content Pool
By Cristobal Perez
In a day full of sunshine and adrenaline at the waterfalls of Saltos de Riñinahue, located on the southeast bank of Lake Ranco in southern Chile, Mexico's Jonathan Paredes and Australia's Rhiannan Iffland won first place in the mens and women categories of the World Series of Cliff Diving.
First organized in 2009, the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series has become the most important annual competition for cliff diving worldwide, an official sport sanctioned by the International Swimming Federation (FINA) in 2014. This year, the tremendous waterfalls of Futangue Park of Chile were chosen for the final round.
Hundreds of spectators were on hand to watch as Jonathan Paredes snatched the victory from Gary Hunt of England, who had arrived to the event as top seed and favorite to come away with the King Kahekili trophy. But this six-time World Series champion suffered a mistake om his last jump, and hence allowing the 28-year-old Mexican to seal a victory with a perfect jump from 27 meters (90 feet) high.
"I’m so very happy to have won here in Chile. Coming from Mexico, I have felt at home here. Before my last dive I had actually already congratulated Gary for winning the World Series, but hey, that's the sport. He made a very serious mistake on his last dive, and now I am the champion of the World Series and the competition here in Chile,” Paredes told Patagon Journal.
Jonathan Paredes. Photo: Romina Amato/Red Bull Content PoolJonathan Paredes. Photo: Romina Amato/Red Bull Content Pool
The overall winner of the men's category, Paredes earned his first title in his sixth participation in the competition. In previous years he had obtained a second and a third place. The second place of Hunt was just 10 points below Paredes, who was denied his seventh title in the World Series. Third place in the men’s went to his fellow Brit, Blake Aldridge.
Orlando Duque, winner of the first World Series in 2009, did not classify for the finals, but for sure his opinion is highly valued in the sport and he gave us the keys to the triumph of Paredes: "Jonathan technically is very good, he jumps very elegantly. A few years ago,  he often seemed overcome with stress when competing, but today he relaxes a little more and can jump with greater calm. He continues to show that mastery in recent years, and today more than ever,” commented the former champion from Colombia.
In the women’s category, Rhiannan Iffland was incredible and for the second consecutive year was crowned world champ. It was not easy, though. The 26-year-old Australian had suffered a knee injury at the previous World Series stop in Bosnia in late September. She did not do test dives so as not to aggravate her injury, nevertheless she jumped with style and precision from 21 meters (70 feet) to finish in first place for the fourth time in the six events held during this year's competition.
Rhiannan Iffland. Photo: Romina Amato/Red Bull Content PoolRhiannan Iffland. Photo: Romina Amato/Red Bull Content Pool
"It's an amazing achievement to leave here in first place. The conditions were difficult, the water very cold, but this place is beautiful. I'm going from here with a smile and filled with positive energy,” said the happy champion. She added about the experience of cliff diving: “Being up high, before jumping, it is scary, many things go through your mind, but once you're standing on the platform you say “game on” and you focus on the jump and what you have to do to be safe and make a good jump.”
In the women’s competition at Lake Ranco, Australia’s Helena Merten finished in second place, while the Mexican Adriana Jiménez was third, culminating a year-long competition that also had stops in spectacular landscapes of Ireland, Portugal, Italy, United States, and Bosnia.
It was a special day at Futangue Park, where attendees were able to see the competition as well through a giant screen installed near the waterfalls. In addition, a tasty Patagonian-style barbecue more than took care of the hungry, and a tent with local products tempted everyone. Special guests, the press, and other patient observers witnessed the spectacular feats of Jonathan Paredes and Rhiannan Iffland, who rose to the occasion to be crowned champions of the 2017 Cliff Diving World Series.
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