Final fours: Season’s first medals imminent at circuit opener

Marking arrowholes during the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City.

The return of the Hyundai Archery World Cup is a good thing. But all good things must come to an end – and this week’s competition in Guatemala City is nearing its climax. Compound finals run on Saturday, and recurve on Sunday.

Let's not forget what’s at stake here.

The individual winners at each stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup qualify automatically for the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final. In these uncertain times, securing that ticket early relieves a huge amount of pressure.

For all of the pre-event talk about Sara Lopez and Brady Ellison’s campaigns for their sixth circuit trophies, it’s the third reigning champion present in Guatemala who has a shot at the stage victory. Mister Perfect, Mike Schloesser, has had an excellent week. He only needs 30 more good arrows to finish off the perfect start to this exciting new season.

This event marks the debut of the new final four format on the Hyundai Archery World Cup.

The final fours are listed below in match order. The first two archers face each other in the first semifinal, the second two in the second semifinal. Each archer’s seeding at this event is given in brackets.

The compound women’s final four at the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala.

Compound women

When Savannah Vanderwier knocked out USA teammate – and number one seed – Paige Pearce with a better tiebreak 10 in the quarterfinals, she announced herself as belonging on the world stage. This is her international debut with the seniors.

Alexis Ruiz is likely to hold on to her top spot in the world rankings with the points earned from this top-four finish. A victory on Saturday would solidify that position for the foreseeable future, especially after she knocked out the woman who trails her, Sara Lopez, to book her spot in this quartet. An all-USA final is not out of the question here.

But Nora Valdez, the reigning Pan American Champion, may have something to say about that. A product of the Colombian compound factory, she’s in a perfect spot to build on her success from Monterrey last month.

Tanja Gellenthien has been in the mix for a while, but she has never won a stage of the international circuit.

Who’s the favourite? Nora Valdez

The compound men’s final four at the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala.

Compound men

This is the most experienced of the four line-ups, featuring three Hyundai Archery World Cup Champions, past and present. Schaff won the circuit in 2018, Gellenthien in 2012 and 2017, and Schloesser in 2016 and 2019. The Dutchman enters this year as the incumbent.

He enters these semifinals as the favourite, too.

Having shot an impressive 717 during qualification, including that perfect 360-point half to open, Schloesser opened his matches with a 150. The points started to drop after that. But as he said afterward, he didn’t have his normal energy. It’s going to take some time to get back into competition shape. Mike is searching for his fifth-career stage victory.

Bosansky was one of the best stories in 2019. He made the circuit final in only his third season. It’s great to see that it wasn’t a fluke. There was a lot – a lot – of emotion when he booked himself a spot in the final four.

Who’s the favourite? Mike Schloesser

The recurve women’s final four at the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala.

Recurve women

Two-time stage winner Deepika Kumari was brilliant in her quarterfinal victory over Michelle Kroppen, shooting three sets of 29, 30 and 30 points to demand her spot in the finals arena. One phase prior, she delivered a fifth-set 29 to force a draw with Aida Roman and then drill a 10 in the tiebreak.

It’s indicative of the kind of killer instinct we’ve always wanted to see from Kumari.

It’s been years, now, since Mackenzie Brown became the first recurve woman from the USA to win a stage of the international circuit. Taking a second would place her in some high-end company.

And just who is Madalina Amaistroaie? Well, she’s already Romania’s best-ever archer on the Hyundai Archery World Cup. Could she be more?

Who’s the favourite? Deepika Kumari

The recurve men’s final four at the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala.

Recurve men

Atanu Das said how happy he was to see some progression in his results having put in years of work – and taking a first-ever individual podium on the international circuit here in Guatemala would be a true testament to that effort. He’s clearly the most stylish of these four – but style doesn’t win matches, 10s do. Das has shot in one bronze medal match before, in Antalya in 2016, losing to Kim Woojin.

His biggest opponent for the title this time around is Steve Wijler.

The former stage winner, the world bronze medallist and the current world number four is a match shooter through and through. There was some rust on the bowstring at the start of the event, and a creaky knee with Wijler having had surgery last year, but Steve has always excelled in head-to-head play. His lower seeding belies the challenge he’ll pose on Sunday.

This is Daniel Castro’s debut stage of the Hyundai Archery World Cup.

Who’s the favourite? Steve Wijler

Competition at the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup finishes with finals on 24-25 April.