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Zagunis Defeats Kharlan to Win Gold at Bolzano Saber World Cup

03/03/2014, 6:30pm CST
By Nicole Jomantas

Mariel Zagunis (second from left) on top on the podium in Bolzano. Photo Credit: Augusto Bizzi

Mariel Zagunis celebrates her final touch against Olga Kharlan. Photo Credit: Augusto Bizzi

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Two-time Olympic Champion Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.) was back on top on Saturday when she won gold at the Bolzano Saber World Cup in Italy.

Zagunis, whose last individual World Cup title came in 2013 when this tournament was held in Bologna, was seeded second in the tournament behind 2013 Senior World Champion Olga Kharlan (UKR) and got the event off to a quick start with a 15-6 win over Sevinj Bunyatova (AZE).

Zagunis defeated Shinhui Choi (KOR), 15-8, in the table of 32 and 2012 Junior World Champion Yana Egorian (RUS), 15-10, in the 16.

In the quarter-finals, Zagunis fenced 2003 Senior World medalist Aleksandra Socha (POL) and held a 13-11 lead late in the second period before Socha scored twice to tie the bout. Zagunis finished with two single light scores to earn a 15-13 victory.  

Zagunis’s next opponent was Rossella Gregorio (ITA) – a 2013 Senior World Team member who had upset 2012 Olympic Champion Jiyeon Kim (KOR) and two-time Senior World Team Champion Dina Galiakbarova (RUS) in earlier rounds.

Zagunis controlled their semifinal bout from the start, scoring the first three touches and holding an 8-4 lead at the break. Up 11-8 in the second period, Zagunis scored four unanswered touches to win the bout, 15-8.

The gold medal final was a familiar pairing as Zagunis took on Kharlan in a final bout for the fourth time in the past year. While the two split their World Cup bouts in 2013 with 15-14 scores, Kharlan won their final bout last week at the Gent World Cup in Belgium, 15-10.

Although Kharlan came into Bolzano with five straight gold medal wins, Zagunis led the bout, 8-5, after the first period. Kharlan fought back to tie the bout at nine, but Zagunis scored six of the next seven touches to earn a 15-10 victory.

Two-time Senior World Team medalist Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.) followed her top-eight result at the Gent World Cup last week with a second eighth place result in Bolzano.

Schneider advanced directly out of the pools on Friday and into the table of 64 as the 26th seed and won her first bout over Anna Varhelyi (HUN), 15-6.

In the table of 32, Schneider won her bout over Azza Besbes (TUN), the ninth-ranked fencer in the world, by a score of 15-12 shortly after Besbes defeated Schneider’s teammate, Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.), 15-14, in the table of 64.

Schneider edged 2013 Junior World Team Champion Alina Komashchuk (RUS), 15-14, in the table of 16 and finished eighth overall after a 15-10 loss to Kharlan in the semis.

A 2009 Senior World Team member, Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.) continued her quest to qualify for a second national team with a second top-16 World Cup result this season.

Aksamit advanced out of the pools and preliminary rounds and won her table of 64 bout against Anna Illarionova (RUS), 15-14.

Aksamit’s next bout came down to a one-touch win as well when she defeated teammate Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.), 15-14, in the table of 32.

In the table of 16, Aksamit fenced Kharlan for the first time in a direct elimination bout. Kharlan earned the win, 15-8, and Aksamit finished 15th.

Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.), a 2013 Senior World team medalist, outtouched Stefanie Kubissa (GER), 15-14, in the table of 64. She fenced Fei LI (CHN) in the next round, but lost the bout, 15-8, and placed 21st overall.

Three-time Senior World medalists Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.) and Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.) each advanced to the table of 64.

Wozniak and Muhammad finished 33rd and 34th respectively. Wozniak lost to Komashchuk, 15-6. Muhammad’s bout against Chiara Mormile (ITA) was tied at 11, but the Italian scored four of the next five touches and won the bout, 15-12.  

Zagunis, Wozniak, Muhammad and Palmedo all fenced in the team competition on Sunday.

Team USA won its first two bouts over Spain and Korea and just missed advancing to the gold medal final after a 45-44 loss to second seeded Russia.

The Americans fenced Poland for bronze, but lost the match, 45-42, and finished fourth.

Click here to view complete individual results.

Click here to view complete team results.

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

Bolzano Individual Saber World Cup
1. Mariel Zagunis (Beaverton, Ore.)

2. Olga Kharlan (UKR)
3. Rossella Gregorio (ITA)
3. Vassiliki Vougiouka (GRE)
5. Aleksandra Socha (POL)
6. Dina Galiakbarova (RUS)
7. Chen Shen (CHN)
8. Daria Schneider (New York City, N.Y.)

15. Monica Aksamit (Matawan, N.J.)
21. Eliza Stone (Chicago, Ill.)
31. Sage Palmedo (Portland, Ore.)
33. Dagmara Wozniak (Avenel, N.J.)
34. Ibtihaj Muhammad (Maplewood, N.J.)
58. Kamali Thompson (Teaneck, N.J.)

Bolzano Team World Cup
1. Russia
2. Italy
3. Poland
4. USA
5. Ukraine
6. Korea
7. France
8. Hungary

Tag(s): News  Ibtihaj Muhammad  Dagmara Wozniak  Mariel Zagunis  Eliza Stone