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Race Imboden and Alexander Massialas Make History with Bronzes at the Paris Foil World Cup

01/29/2012, 5:55am CST
By Nicole Jomantas

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Two of the youngest competitors at the Paris Foil World Cup made history on Saturday as 18-year-old Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and 17-year-old Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) won bronze medals in the Olympic qualifying tournament in France.

The wins marked the first time any U.S. men’s foil fencer has earned a medal at the prestigious event and the first time two U.S. men ever have medaled at the same World Cup.

“It felt great to be up there with Race. He fenced really well and took out some big players, and it really was an honor to do so well with my teammate. It really is a testament to the growth of fencing in the U.S. I think that a few years back it would've been unheard of if someone medaled at such a prestigious event, but now we have two medals at a single World Cup,” said Massialas who was seeded 16th going into the tournament. “I honestly had no idea that Race and I were the first Americans to medal at the event, so at first I was just ecstatic that I had done so well. After I heard that, it was just a little added bonus.”

Massialas won his opening bout in the table of 64 against Antonin Buquet (FRA), 15-11, and earned a quick victory over James Davis (GBR), 15-7, to move into the table of 16.

Imboden also qualified for the table of 16 with little difficulty after an opening 15-7 win in his bout against Guillaume Pita (FRA) and a table of 32 victory over U.S. teammate Michael Dudey (Bellaire, Texas), 15-11.

Competing in his first senior World Cup, 18-year-old Dudey finished 20th overall.

In the table of 16, Massialas edged Rene Pranz (AUT), 15-13, and credited his father and coach, Greg Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.), with helping him finish the difficult bout.

“I had a really tough bout with Pranz, but my dad was able to keep me focused to come back from behind and win a close one,”Massialas said.

On the other side of the table, Imboden faced reigning Junior World Champion Edoardo Luperi (ITA). One of the up-and-coming future stars of the Italian team, Lupieri defeated 2009 World Champion Andrea Baldini (ITA), 15-10, in the table of 64, but Imboden handled the 18-year-old well and won the bout, 15-7.

With one bout needed for each fencer to secure a medal, Massialas defeated Igor Zapozdaev (RUS), 15-9, while Imboden had a rematch with four-time Senior World Champion Peter Joppich (GER).

Imboden led throughout most of the bout by as many as four touches, but Joppich closed the gap to two after Imboden scored his 14th touch. Imboden held off Joppich during his final attempts and ended the bout, 15-12, to move into the semifinals.

Fencing first against reigning World Champion Andrea Cassara (ITA), Imboden kept the bout close during the opening minutes, but Cassara began to gain momentum when he brought the score to 7-5. Cassara, a 2004 Olympic medalist and the current top-ranked fencer in the world, held onto his lead throughout the remainder of the bout to score the win, 15-8.

Massialas fought a close bout against Jianfei Ma (CHN) that came down to the final touches, but Ma earned the win, 15-13.

“Other than fencing Ma in team, this is only the second time I've ever fenced him individually. The first time was in this exact tournament three years ago where he just blew me out of the water to make the eights,” Massialas said. “It really was what I expected because he is a very strong fencer with great technique, distance and endurance. Though it is tough to lose such a close bout, I think he deserved it in the end. I fenced very well but there were parts of that bout where I lost concentration and gave him a few easy ones, but overall I think it was a great bout.”

Five of Massialas and Imboden’s teammates advanced to the table of 64 on Saturday as well with three qualifying for the table of 32.

In addition to Dudey, three-time Senior World Team member Kurt Getz (Rye, N.Y.) finished 21st after he defeated Enzo Lefort (FRA), 15-7, but lost a 15-10 bout against Alexey Cheremisinov (RUS), a top-eight finisher at the 2011 Senior Worlds. The Russian’s win was his second over an American on Saturday after he defeated 2010 Senior World medalist Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.), 15-12, in the table of 64.

Miles Chamley-Watson (Philadelphia, Pa.), a fifth-place finisher at the 2010 Senior Worlds, improved his chances of competing at his first Olympic Games with a 24th place finish. Chamley-Watson defeated Pavlo Syrachynskyy (UKR), 15-11, in the table of 64, but lost to Sebastian Bachmann (GER), 15-9, in the table of 32.

Jerry Chang (Mountain View, Calif.), a 2011 Cadet World Team member, advanced to the table of 64, but lost to Kyoya Ichikawa (JPN), 15-10.

Competition will continue on Sunday when Imboden, Massialas, Meinhardt and Chamley-Watson fence in the team event. After a bye in the table of 32, Team USA will fence Great Britain in the opening match.

The following are top eight and U.S. results, including results for athletes who competed on Friday:

Paris Foil Individual World Cup
1. Andrea Cassara
2. Jianfei Ma (CHN)
3. Race Imboden (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
3. Alexander Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)
5. Byung-Chul Choi (KOR)
6. Yuki Ota (JPN)
7. Igor Zapozdaev (RUS)
8. Peter Joppich (GER)

20. Michael Dudey (Bellaire, Texas)
21. Kurt Getz (Rye, N.Y.)
24. Miles Chamley-Watson (Philadelphia, Pa.)
43. Jerry Chang (Mountain View, Calif.)
61. Gerek Meinhardt (San Francisco, Calif.)

66. David Willette (Lafayette, Calif.)
85. Adam Elkassas (Du Bois, Pa.)
127. Michael Woo (Wayne, N.J.)
156. Benjamin Parkins (The Woodlands, Texas)
166. Turner Caldwell (San Francisco, Calif.)

Tag(s): News  Race Imboden  Alexander Massialas