TELFORD, England – With fog machines, colored spotlights, and a huge crowd, the magic of the finals venue for the European Archery Festival made for arguably one of the most exciting indoor archery settings in history. It wasn’t just the fog that made the ending camera-worthy: this tournament was full of surprises that saw favorites fall and new stars emerge.
The European Archery Festival, held January 24 – 26, was also the third leg of the Indoor Archery World Cup series. The first two stops on this archery circuit were Marrakesh and Singapore; the last event for this series will be the Vegas Shoot next weekend, which also serves as the Indoor Archery World Cup Final, at which nearly 2000 archers are expected to compete.
For this event, nearly 900 participants shot a qualification round of 60 arrows, at a distance of 18 meters. The top 32 archers in each category – by gender, age and equipment type – then advanced to bracket-style head to head elimination matches through which medalists are determined. In this type of competition, pressure builds as the field is narrowed, and there is significant potential for upsets.
Just named World Archery’s Female Athlete of the Year for 2013, Erika Jones (Grand Island, Neb.) qualified first for compound women, tying the world record (593), and then dominated her elimination matches to finish with gold. Camilla Soemod (DEN) earned the silver medal, and Germany’s Janine Meissner ended with bronze.
A surprise in this category: a standout qualification from American newcomer Crystal Gauvin (Dayville, Conn.), who led the field in the first half of qualifications, finishing seven points behind Jones. She was later stopped in her first match: “As the #2 seed, I was matched up against the #31,” explains Gauvin in a blog post. “As I learned in Lancaster, no match is a gimme, so I knew I had to shoot well to win. I was confident in my shot, having qualified so well earlier in the day, however, during official practice I was struggling to hit 10s.”
For the recurve women, Kim Yu Mi (KOR) tied the world record in qualifications and earned the gold medal versus teammate Park Sehui. Olympic medalist Aida Roman (MEX) was the single recurve archer to challenge an all-Korean sweep of the podium.
On the men’s side, USA’s Paul Tedford (Great Falls, Mont.) and Levi Morgan (Brevard, N.C.) – field archery and 3D standouts among target archery veterans – started the tournament with qualifying scores that had placed them in 2nd and 21st, respectively. Morgan and Tedford ultimately met in the bronze medal match, which Morgan won. Teammates Peter Elzinga and Mike Schloesser of the Netherlands met in the final, with Elzinga earning the gold.
Missing from the compound men’s podium: Reo Wilde (Pocatello, Idaho) and Braden Gellenthien (College Station, Tex.) qualified 16th and 17th respectively; the two were unfortunately paired head-to-head early in the competition. Wilde took the win with a one-arrow shoot off before falling to eventual gold medalist Elzinga in the quarterfinals.
Olympic superstar Brady Ellison (Chula Vista, Calif.) topped qualifications over 250 recurve men by a wide margin. However, his quest for hardware ended in a one-arrow shoot off in the quarterfinals against eventual silver medalist, Thomas Faucheron (FRA). Fellow French archer Jean-Charles Valladont claimed the gold. It was a surprising early exit for Olympic medalist Jake Kaminski (Gainesville, Fla.), who qualified 6th, but was upset in the 1/16th by Bérenger Chailliot (FRA).
Didn’t see the live broadcast of these spectacular finals? Check them out now: