U.S. Women’s Epee Team finalized
The Rio de Janeiro Epee World Cup marked the last qualifying women’s epee international event of the season and proved to be intense competition for individuals still fighting for spots on the US Senior World and Pan Am teams.
Only Maya Lawrence had secured a spot before the weekend’s competition; being #1 in point standings in the U.S. with a top-16 finish at the London Olympics and posting two top-16 finishes in the World Cup circuit. She and seven other American athletes traveled to Brazil to compete, each contending for the three other Team USA spots. Also in contention were Courtney and Kelley Hurley, ranked 2nd and 3rd in the U.S. respectively, who opted out of the event due to Courtney’s graduation from Notre Dame on Sunday.
Lawrence, seeded 11th in the tournament, was exempt from the pools and preliminary tables on Friday. The other seven American fencers all advanced from pools and into the preliminary table of 64. Natalie Vie, ranked 4th in the U.S., lost in her preliminary DE to Alexsandra Zamachowska (POL) 15-12. This meant that Vie would not earn any national ranking points and opened the door for the three American athletes who made it out of the preliminary rounds to compete for Team USA qualification.
On Saturday, Lindsay Campbell dropped her opening bout in the table of 64 to three-time Senior World medalist Emese Szasz (HUN) 15-11. The loss meant that she would not qualify for Senior Worlds, the first time since 2007. Maya Lawrence also lost her opening bout to Anfisa Pochkalova (UKR) 15-8.
Left in contention were Katharine Holmes (ranked 5th in the U.S.) and Amanda Sirico (ranked 12th). Holmes defeated Kseniya Pantelyeyeva (UKR) 15-13 in her table of 64, moving her ahead of Vie in national point standings. Sirico narrowly won her table of 64 bout over Sanne Gars (SWE) 15-14. In the table of 32, Holmes lost to Lyubov Shutova (RUS) 15-12 and finished 30th overall. To edge past Holmes in point standings Sirico would need to make a top 8 finish. She started out strong by winning her table of 32 bout against Hyojoo Choi (KOR) 15-4. This set her up to fence the current #1 ranked women’s epeeist Yujie Sun (CHN). Sirico gave it her all but ultimately lost 15-10, giving her a 14th place finish at her first World Cup and moved her up in national point rankings from 12th to 6th.
Maya Lawrence, Courtney Hurley and Kelley Hurley retained the #1, #2 and #3 positions while Katharine Holmes moved up to 4th to join them on Team USA.
Sun went on to fence Imke Duplitzer (GER) in the table of 8, winning 15-12 to continue her win streak into the semi-finals. There she was shut down by Shin A Lam (KOR), who had narrowly made it by winning her quarter final bout against Szasz 15-14. The Korean won the semi-final match 15-12. Sun finished 3rd overall, claiming a bronze medal and posting her 4th top 8 finish for 2013.
Meanwhile, Monika Sozanska (GER) won her quarter final bout against Violetta Kolobova (RUS) 15-11. Britta Heidemann (GER), ranked 7th in the world, was up against 2nd world ranked Ana Maria Branza (ROU) in her quarter final match. Heidemann won in a close 9-8 bout, advancing her to the semifinals against her fellow teammate. There her win streak continued, out touching her teammate 11-7.
This led to an all too familiar matchup in the finals. Britta Heidemann and Shin A Lam previously fenced each other at the 2012 London Olympics. Heidemann won and advanced to the individual event finals after a highly controversial decision that led the South Korean fencer to protest by refusing to leave the piste. History seemed to be repeating itself with an incredibly close match, but Shin A Lam claimed victory and redemption with a 6-5 win and gold medal at the end of the day.
The full Senior World and Pan Am Teams will be announced after next weekend’s women’s saber and men’s epee international events.
Video of the Finals between Shin A Lam (KOR) and Britta Heidemann (GER):