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Mariel Zagunis Wins Her First Medal of the Season at the Orleans Saber Grand Prix

02/03/2013, 5:00am CST
By Nicole Jomantas

Bronze medalist Mariel Zagunis (far right) on the podium. (L-R): silver medalist Dina Galiakbarova (RUS), gold medalist Olga Kharlan and bronze medalist Aleksandra Socha (POL).

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – The top-ranked women’s saber fencer in the world, Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.), returned to the podium at the first Grand Prix of the season in Orleans, France on Saturday.

Seeded first in the tournament, the two-time Olympic Champion won her opening bout in the table of 64 over Sevil Bunyatovs (AZE), 15-9, and defeated 2007 Senior World medalist Bogna Jozwiak (POL), 15-13, in the table of 32.

Zagunis led her table of 16 bout against Rossella Gregorio (ITA) from start to finish to take the win, 15-10.

In the quarter-finals, Zagunis struggled during the first period against Yuliya Gavrilova (RUS) – the three-time Senior World Team Champion who Zagunis defeated during the semifinals of the 2011 Senior Worlds.

Although Gavrilova has never defeated Zagunis in individual competition, the Russian took an 8-3 lead in the first period. Zagunis dominated the second period as she secured the 15-10 victory with seven unanswered touches.

In the semifinals, 2011 Senior World Team Champion Dina Galiakbarova (RUS) built an 8-3 lead by the end of the first period. Zagunis made a comeback late in the bout, but Galiakbarova took the win, 15-13.

In the table of 16, 2012 Olympian Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.) lost a close bout to Galiakbarova. Although the Russian kept the score within a touch for most of the bout, Wozniak appeared to have earned the victory, 15-12, but the call on the final touch was overturned and Galiakbarova scored three straight to win the bout, 15-14. Wozniak finished 11th overall – the second top-16 finish of the two-week season for the two-time Senior World Team medalist.

Princeton senior Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.) earned her best World Cup result last week with a 16th place finish in London and followed with a 14th place result at her Grand Prix debut in Orleans.

Stone, who went 5-1 in the pools on Friday to earn a 22nd seed in table of 64, defeated Charlotte Suchet (FRA), 15-5, in her opening bout and upset two-time Senior World Team medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.), 15-10, who finished 18th overall.

In the table of 16, Stone led 2003 Senior World medalist Aleksandra Socha (POL), 8-5, but Socha came back late in the second half to win the bout, 15-14.

Sixteen-year-old Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.) finished the pools with a 4-2 record to advance to the table of 64 for her first time at a Grand Prix event. Palmedo, who fenced on her first Cadet World Team in Moscow last year, won her table of 64 bout over 2012 Junior World medalist Saoussen Boudiaf (FRA), 15-10.

In the table of 32, Palmedo lost her bout to Socha, 15-4, to end the day in 28th place.

Zagunis, Wozniak, Stone, Muhammad and Palmedo will all be back in action for the next stop on the World Cup tour in Gent, Belgium on Feb. 22.

Click here to view complete results.

Top eight and U.S. results are as follows:

Orleans Saber Grand Prix
1. Olga Kharlan (UKR)
2. Dina Galiakbarova (RUS)
3. Aleksandra Socha (POL)
3. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)
5. Yuliya Gavrilova (RUS)
6. Ekaterina Dyachenko (RUS)
7. Olga ZHovnir (UKR)
8. Irena Wieckowska (PO)

11. Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.)
14. Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.)
18. Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
28. Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.)
67. Francesca Russo (Wayne, N.J.)
74. Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.)
75. Skyla Powers (Decatur, Ga.)

Tag(s): News  Mariel Zagunis  Eliza Stone  Sage Palmedo