Expert predictions: Forecasting the second stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup

Steve Wijler shoots during the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City.

For all of the pre-event talk about Sara Lopez and Brady Ellison’s campaigns for their record-sixth circuit trophies, podium appearances featured an abundance of unknowns at the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City.

Will that trend continue in Lausanne? What can we expect now that the outdoor season is in full swing? With a reduced international schedule and the Tokyo Olympics on the horizon, archers both established and unfamiliar will need to capitalise on every opportunity available to them as they battle for invitations to the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in September

To make sense of it all, we’ve polled the following panel of experts for their predictions heading into the official start of the international season.

  • Nicky Hunt, broadcast analyst
  • Jeff Kirshman, journalist
  • John Stanley, journalist
  • George Tekmitchov, podcaster
  • Chris Wells, journalist 
Brady Ellison shoots at the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City.

1. A number of bold-faced names were eliminated earlier than expected in Guatemala City. Who do you expect to rebound in the second stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Lausanne?

Chris: I expect Brady Ellison to be in the final four in Lausanne. He shot at an excellent level in Guatemala City but was simply hit, unluckily, by an archer playing hot in matchplay. I don’t expect that to have done anything but fuel him further.

Nicky: All eyes will be on Brady Ellison as his quest for a record sixth World Cup title continues. With the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final being hosted in Yankton, the USA will have a home nation spot, and Brady would be the favourite to take that. But more important for Brady is that he continues his winning form of 2019 in this Olympic year. (Sara Lopez’s name would normally be mentioned in the same breath as Brady, but Colombia’s compound women won’t be in Lausanne.)

George: Brady Ellison will be back with a vengeance. He’s been training at the Easton Archery Center in Salt Lake City this week, both preparing for the USA Olympic trials in that same venue in June, as well as preparing for Lausanne, with some equipment improvements and tuning refinements. There is no doubt that he is at the height of his power at the moment, and I expect we will see evidence of this on the field of play in Switzerland. On the compound side of the field, we will eagerly look for the international return of World Cup archery legend Sergio Pagni of Italy to competition for the first time in 14 months.

Deepika Kumari celebrates at the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City.

2. This year’s circuit features just three stages as opposed to the customary four in a traditional season. How do you expect this change in format to affect who attends the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in September?

Jeff: Fewer stages increases the value and importance of each event, placing a greater burden on archers to seize the spots while they’re still available. Contenders who leave Lausanne without an automatic entry secured for Yankton will inevitably begin to press as the margin for error becomes smaller and smaller. Archers fortunate enough to have already won, meanwhile, will be free to focus on process – perhaps resulting in a continuation of their impressive performances while their opponents agitate to join them on the podium. 

Nicky: This means there’s one less automatic qualification from taking gold at a stage. I think this puts even more pressure on taking that win at the two remaining stages. With Korea not attending the World Cup stages, they will need to gain their spots at the Olympics. In London and Rio, they took individual men and women’s gold on both occasions. Can they make it three in a row?

Chris: More than the fewer stages, I expect the contenders at the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final to feel less ... unexpected this year. That’s because of the final fours. It‘s in the semifinals where archers collect real points finishes. I doubt we’ll see anyone who hasn’t made a final four qualify for Yankton.

An San shoots at the Tokyo 2020 Test Event.

3. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are fast approaching. How good of an indicator are the World Cup results at predicting who will win medals in Japan?

George: The World Cup performances of every winner are invaluable fuel in the tank of confidence needed to perform well in Tokyo. The forge of competition will provide momentum to drive the performances we will see on the Yumenoshima competition field in July. But perhaps equally valuable will be the experience of the ‘COVID bubble’ that is being established for each event and how that tangibly affects a gameday mindset. I believe Korea has really missed an important opportunity in choosing to forego World Cup participation this season – and that might prove costly this summer.

Chris: No previous event is ever a good indicator of who will win medals at the Olympics, especially in the individual competition. You’d have to go all the way back to 2004 and Park Sung-Hyun to find an individual Olympic Champion who was really expected to win the event. Otherwise, they’ve come from the pool of ‘contenders’. The stages of the Hyundai Archery World Cup are a good indicator of who’s in that pool with a shot at gold at the Games, and who is not.

Nicky: As an archer, you draw a lot of confidence from your most recent performances, proving to yourself that you are on form and ready for the Games. The World Cups are the biggest events where the whole Olympic field is normally in attendance, so it’s the best guide to where you are, internationally. This year is exceptional in that some individuals and countries may be prevented from travelling to events they want to due to the pandemic, so it might be skewed slightly due to that. Having said that, more gold medals are won at the Olympics by first-timers! The nature of the head-to-heads opens it up more, so anything is possible, which is hugely exciting to watch. Like Ellison said in Guatemala City after losing in the second round, archery is now a sprint.

Braden Gellenthien shoots at the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City.

4. Yankton was recently announced as the host of the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final, immediately after the Hyundai World Archery Championships, to end the current outdoor season.

What do you think of the decision to host the two events in the same location?

Nicky: Given the global climate and the desire to minimize travel, this is an excellent idea. Olympic continental qualifying events, three Hyundai Archery World Cup events, the Olympic Games and the world championships make for a very long season. I am sure Yankton will put on a fabulous show for the finals, and I can’t wait to see it.

Chris: It’s sensible. There’s so much uncertainty in the world, and planning for archers to travel internationally to attend a two-day event like the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final is exceptionally challenging. The Yankton hub will cut down on the stress of organising logistics for the teams and ensure that the top athletes who qualify are able to attend.

George: It’s convenient, practical, environmentally responsible and fiscally wise to combine the events, along with World Archery’s congress, for the Yankton Hub. Not only is the venue and staff highly experienced and qualified to host events, but the reduction in travel days will also prove to be a real boon for all of the participants.

Andreas Marcos is a favourite to win in Lausanne.

5. Who are your favourites to win in Lausanne?

Chris: Braden Gellenthien’s matchplay in Guatemala City was really impressive. He could sweep the season, and I see him going back-to-back with gold in Lausanne. Artem Makhnenko deserves a big win. Amanda Mlinaric could pace the compound women, especially as the Colombians aren’t on-site. Despite the torrid weather on the radar, Ana Vazquez is going to continue to build her case for a long-term spot in the Mexican squad.

Nicky: Stephan Hansen, compound men; Andrea Marcos, compound women; Brady Ellison, recurve men and Lisa Unruh, recurve women.

George: I think we will see podiums from JC Valladont, Lisa Unruh, Brady Ellison, Braden Gellenthien and Natalia Avdeeva. But my heart wants to see Italy’s Sergio Pagni back on a Hyundai Archery World Cup podium, and I will be cheering him on!

John: I am keen to see some of the less-heralded Asian teams out on the field, just in case there are any surprises lurking in-store in Tokyo. There’s a lot of people in Lausanne who haven’t been seen internationally for a long time. We’re going to see who best survived and used their time wisely during the pandemic, and who spent more time with Netflix than their bow.