Experts predict: Rome 2017 World Cup Champions

With just eight athletes competing in each category at the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final, it should be much easier to predict who’ll walk away with silverware than at, say, the World Archery Championships – where we had over 250 recurve men in 2015.

Of those eight athletes, seven qualified by accruing ranking points at the four stages of the tour – in Shanghai, Antalya, Salt Lake City and Berlin – and the eighth was appointed by the host nation, Italy.

Here’s who our round table of archery experts and journalists think will be taking victories and securing Hyundai Archery World Cup Champion crowns at Rome 2017.

All the previews

John Stanley
Journalist and blogger

Winners: Chang Hye Jin, David Pasqualucci, Sarah Sonnichsen, Stephan Hansen

Pasuqalucci was very, very close (just a handful of points) off making the final on his own merit – and showed incredible quality and composure in his bronze medal match with Thomas Chirault in Antalya. Up against Kim Woojin in the first match, who has started slowly in the past, I could see David going literally all the way in front of a home crowd.

(Although if Woojin really shows up, it’s game over for everybody.)

If 2016 is the year Chang Hye Jin will remember forever, 2017 will be the year she showed the greatest quality, including making the final of the President’s tournament in Korea against all her peers. She’ll meet Valencia or Ki in the semis but shouldn’t fear either of them.

Compound men is the most wide-open competition at this tournament and any of them could take it. Hansen has been the most consistent all year and deserves his number-one seeding.

It’s difficult to see past either Sarah or Sara for the compound women’s crown as they are still a long way ahead of the rest of the field, although both have had an off day or two this season. I’m picking Sarah to finally beat Lopez in a major final; the curse has been broken this year and she has shown aggression and confidence at the right times.

– John

Ludivine Maitre Wicki

Winners: Deepika Kumari, JC Valladont, Marcella Tonioli, Stephan Hansen

Kumari deserves to win gold after being a four-time runner-up. No French archer has ever been recurve men’s champion, so Valladont will dispatch Wijler, Woojin and then Sjef back-to-back, just like in the Berlin team event. 

I might be crazy, as Lopez and Sonnichsen are in this competition, but I bet on Tonioli, because no host nation archer has ever won a World Cup Final – and she’s the reigning champ. She’ll need to beat both the number one and two seeds to take gold – just like she did in Odense, when she knocked out Gauvin (2) and Sonnichsen (1) in the final.

The compound men’s event is difficult to call with Elmaagacli, Schloesser and Hansen all in the same side of the bracket. Schloesser facing Elmaagacli in the first round might be the Danish world number one’s salvation has he has five consecutive losses against the Turkish archer.

Mike is 3-0 against Demir; Hansen is 2-1 against Mike.

Hansen will meet PJ Deloche in the final and then, at just 22 years old, he’ll likely add the last of the three major championship trophies to his cabinet, to sit alongside the reigning World Archery Championship and World Games gongs currently in place.

– Ludi

Steven George

Winners: Ki Bo Bae, Kim Woojin, Marcella Tonioli, Stephan Hansen

It’s between the two Korean women in Rome with the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Champions going head-to-head. Chang’s probably had the better season but I’m backing Ki to retain her crown. Woojin was machine-like in Berlin; he’s so enjoyable to watch, not because he’s flamboyant but because he’s such a master.

I want to say Sonnichsen for compound women’s gold but Tonioli would be a better story. She’s needed the host’s wildcard pick to put her on the stage once again but I like the sound of the reigning champ returning to best the rest of the world on home soil. 

Hansen is world number one, world champion – but wounded by silver in Salt Lake in Berlin. He’s dangerous because he has something he needs to prove to himself now.

– Steven

Selva Ganapathy

Winners: Alejandra Valencia, Kim Woojin, Demir Elmaagacli, Sarah Sonnichsen

Kim Woojin is in great form and will finish on top in Rome. Elmaagacli is my favourite in the compound men’s event and Sarah Sonnichsen will continue her season-long dominance of the women’s competition.

– Selva

George Tekmitchov

With a premium field of proven competitors throughout the recurve ranks of the World Cup final, selecting a sure bet is difficult but not impossible.

One of those may well be Chang Hye Jin who, after a bit of disappointment in Berlin, is sure to be on top of her game in Rome, barring injury. Look for Mexican power shooter Alejandra Valencia to figure for a medal as well.

It’s a tough call for the men, with Kim Woojin, Brady Ellison, JC Valladont and Im Dong Hyun sure to be in the running for medals – but look for Sjef van den Berg to make a strong effort that could see him on the podium.

Hansen. Anderson. Schloesser. Gellenthien. Deloche. The compound men’s roster reads like a who’s-who of the past 24 months of World Archery domination. Look for standout performances from Anderson, Schloesser and Hansen. For the women, expect standout performances from Sonnichsen, Jensen and Lopez.

The easy prediction for Rome?  Spectacular matches in one of the most spectacular settings yet for a World Cup Final.

– George

Heather Flint

Winners: Ki Bo Bae, Kim Woojin, Sara Lopez, Stephan Hansen

A consistent presence in the medal table suggests Kim Woojin won’t be going away without a fight. A potential rematch with Wijler from Shanghai won’t go the same way – and he has chance to pick up winning momentum early in the matches and maintain it to and through the gold final.

After failing to defend her Olympic title in Rio, Ki Bo Bae’s determination to perform against rising odds will push her through this tournament.

For the compounds it seems so close to call, so I’ll say: Hansen and Lopez.

– Heather

Dean Alberga

Winners: Tan Ya-Ting, Kim Woojin, Sarah Sonnichsen, Stephan Hansen

In contention many times throughout the years, now is Tan’s time for the big one. Although her first match against Deepika won’t be an easy one, she has what it takes to pull through. Kim Woojin is a machine. I have had the chance to watch him up close through the lens and have come away impressed every time.

Although I think Steve Anderson can cause an upset – he’s podiumed many times this year in the US and internationally – I still believe Hansen will be the victor. No explanation needed.

With three Sara(h)s in the mix, it’s hard not to pick one of them. I’m foretelling an all-Sara(h) final and putting my chips on Sonnichsen this time. She’s cruised through this season, almost carelessly. Double gold for the Danes in the compound divisions.

– Dean

Andrea Vasquez

Winners: Chang Hye Jin, Im Dong Hyun, Sara Lopez, Braden Gellenthien

This year’s line-ups are the best I’ve seen in the past four years, at least.

Im Dong Hyun’s average arrow score in matchplay is the highest of the recurve men’s field, at 9.45 to Kim Woojin’s 9.44. It’s an insanely-small margin and too small to pick the outcome of a match on, but does nothing to make me disbelieve that Im will walk away with gold in Rome – especially this season, that of his return to the top Korean team.

Chang is Olympic Champion, Lopez just shot another world record and Braden seems to be rounding into form on the less-scary side of the compound men’s bracket.

– Andrea

Chris Wells

Winners: Deepika Kumari, David Pasqualucci, Tanja Jensen, PJ Deloche

I’ve recently been told my predictions are always wrong. So…

…Kumari’s going to finally win, relegating Chang to the runner-up spot. Pasqualucci will be the first host wildcard to take gold. Jensen will beat Lopez – for the second time this year – in the final. 

The compound men’s roster is insane, and it wouldn’t be wholly surprising if we had a repeat of Mexico City 2015, when all four top seeds were knocked out in the quarterfinals.

– Chris

The 2017 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final takes place on 2/3 September in Rome, Italy.