Team USA Dominates Indoor Archery World Cup Podium
The States was guaranteed two golds heading into the medal matches. In the finals of the recurve women’s and compound men’s events at the Indoor Archery World Cup Final in Las Vegas, both athletes represented the USA.
Athletes qualified for the Final by collecting points at the four stages of the competition circuit, first in Marrakesh then Bangkok in 2015, then Nimes and the first two days of The Vegas Shoot in ’16.
Brady Ellison was the lone USA-finalist facing a non-compatriot challenger: Russia’s Alexander Kozhin, in the recurve men’s final.
Three-time Archery World Cup Final Champion Brady was exceptional during the elimination phases. He dropped a single point out of the 10-ring in each of the first round, quarterfinal and semifinal. He was seeded number one in the event – after collecting maximum points at the stages in Bangkok and Vegas, and a third place in Nimes – and performed like the favourite.
Brady jumped to a 3-1 lead with two perfect sets to start the contest, before a nine allowed Kozhin to level things up with a 30. Ellison took advantage of an eight from his Russian opponent in the fourth set to put himself within a single set point of victory: 5-3.
A second eight in the match from Kozhin in the fifth series was all Brady needed. He put down another 29 – and took the match, 7-3.
“I shot really well. I had more nines than I wanted to, but in all honesty I wanted the win,” said Brady, world ranked number five.
“It doesn’t matter how many matches you get in, things still surprise you. When someone shoots an eight indoors, it rattles you more than it should because it surprises you. When the door is open, I just throw an arrow down there. It’s not the right attitude to have but I got through.”
Ellison last won the Indoor Archery World Cup Final in 2013. He was also circuit champion the year prior to that, in 2012. The three-time outdoor Archery World Cup Final Champion is now a three-time Indoor Archery World Cup Final Champion, too.
“Its the first time I’ve been in the gold medal match in the Indoor World Cup Final in way too long so I’m just happy to win one again,” he admitted. The performance in 2016 was reminiscent of those years, when an early-20s Brady would grind through brackets shooting nothing but 30s, with the odd 29.
“I have a new drive and determination this year,” he explained. “I’m practising a lot. My girlfriend Toja [Cerne] pushes me. I’m happier and better. I’m looking to have one of the best years I’ve ever had, and I’m thinking I might as well start with indoors.”
With the Rio 2016 Olympics on the horizon, it’s the right time for Brady to be rounding into peak form.
His recurve teammates Mackenzie Brown and Khatuna Lorig, too, had strong showings in Vegas. The two recurve women, ranked 16th and 11th, respectively, arriving into the bracket, upset higher ranked athletes to claim their gold medal match berths. Brown knocked out Olympic silver medallist Aida Roman in the first round, while Lorig took out Berengere Schuh in a semifinal shoot-off.
The pair’s final lasted four sets.
Lorig shot 29-30-29-30, Brown 29-28-29-28, the second and fourth handing two set points a piece to her compatriot. Khatuna took the match, 6-2.
“It was very enjoyable considering I hate 18 metres,” admitted a candid Lorig. “I’m an Olympic archer, but I’m very happy with the results – it was practice for outdoors, and an American won, in America!”
Both women said they were mostly concentrating on their 70-metre game in the lead up to the summer’s Games.
“It’s good competition practice, one of them most fun tournaments I shoot all year – and it’s great to perform well and go into the outdoor season knowing you’ve shot well,” added second-placed Mackenzie. “On Monday we fly home, put the boss back to 70 and get right back to it.”
Jesse Broadwater beat Reo Wilde by three points in the other all-USA gold medal match.
After falling by a point three arrows in, Jesse was simply tighter down the full stretch, scoring three perfect 30s in a row to finish the match with 148. Reo couldn’t consistently on the middle to close, putting in ends of 29, 30 and 28 to give Jesse the win.
“It was awesome. A lot different lighting, and the stage was set a lot different. It was pretty intense,” said Jesse. “Reo’s an intense competitor. We’re both really good archers, and when it comes down to it we’re not really shooting against each other but just trying to shoot a 150. I think we put more pressure on ourselves than anything else.”
Koreans Sim Yeji and Gye Dong Hyun took bronze in the recurve women’s and men’s competitions. Peter Elzinga beat Mike Schloesser to the compound men’s bronze.
Competition in Las Vegas continues on Sunday 31 January 2016 with the third and final day of The Vegas Shoot.