Cancun World Cup Champion Lee Kiefer (second from left) on the podium with silver medalist Alice Volpi (ITA) and bronze medalists Arianna Errigo (ITA) and Martina Batini (ITA). Photo Credit: Augusto Bizzi / FIE.
(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – Two-time Olympian Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.) is off to a perfect start to the 2017-18 season, winning all six of her bouts for the gold medal at the first women’s foil World Cup of the season in Cancun, Mexico.
Dating back to last season, the gold marks the third consecutive World Cup medal for Kiefer after she claimed the title in Tauberbischofsheim in April and bronze in Gdansk in February.
With the victory, the University of Kentucky med student also improves a spot in the World Rankings to No. 2. Last season, she became the first women’s foilist in USA Fencing history to earn a No. 1 ranking.
Exempt from pools, Kiefer started Saturday with an easy 15-8 victory over 2013 Junior World bronze medalist Francesca Palumbo (ITA).
The following rounds, Kiefer defeated a pair of Russians, besting Irina Elesina (RUS), 15-9, and six-time Senior World Team medalist Larisa Korobeynikova (RUS), 15-10.
In the quarter-finals, Kiefer earned a close 15-13 win over the silver medalist at last season’s Gdansk World Cup, Pauline Ranvier (FRA), who defeated 2016 Junior World Champion Sabrina Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.) in the table of 64.
With a medal guaranteed, Kiefer faced off against 2014 World silver medalist Martina Batini (ITA). Taking a 7-5 lead over the bronze medalist at this event a year ago, Kiefer went on an 8-2 run for a 15-7 victory and an opportunity to fence for gold.
Her opponent would be World No. 4 Alice Volpi (ITA), the reigning Senior World silver medalist. A close battle throughout, Volpi ended the first period with three straight touches to level the bout at nine. Kiefer took the first three points out of the break, but Volpi once again responded to tie the bout at 13.
Kiefer hung on and just outtouched the Italian, 15-14, to claim the top spot of the podium.
London Olympian Nicole Ross (New York, N.Y.), a bronze medalist in Cancun last season, finished sixth.
The fifth seed entering the tournament, Ross was exempt from pools and made quick work of her table of 64 bout, dominating Rozène Castanié (FRA), 15-5.
However, Ross’ table of 32 opponent would be a much tougher test as Ross edged out 2014 Cadet World bronze medalist Flora Pasztor (HUN), 15-14.
Ross then outscored 2017 World University Games bronze medalist Beatrice Monaco (ITA), 15-7, before falling to Volpi in the quarters, 15-10.
Volpi also knocked out 2017 Junior World team silver medalist Sylvie Binder (Armonk, N.Y.)
After going 5-1 in pools, Binder posted a 15-7 victory over Kata Kondricz (HUN), but dropped her table of 32 bout to Volpi, 15-10.
Two-tme Olympian Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and 2014 Junior World Team Champion Jackie Dubrovich (Riverdale, N.J.) both went 5-1 in pools on Friday to advance directly to the second day of competition, where they earned 15-11 wins over Chiara Cini (ITA) and Alanna Goldie (CAN), respectively.
In the table of 32, Prescod dropped her bout to Eleanor Harvey (CAN), 15-7, for her best result since the Rio Olympic Games while Dubrovich ran into top-seeded Arianna Errigo (ITA), and lost 15-2.
Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.), a four-time Senior World Team member, was the third American exempt from pools as the No. 15 seed, but she stumbled in her first bout Saturday and lost to four-time Senior World medalist Aida Mohamed (HUN), 15-8.
Competing in her first senior season, last season’s Junior World bronze medalist, Iman Blow (Brooklyn, N.Y.), also came up short in the table of 64 as she drew Batini and fell, 15-10.
Coming off its first-ever silver medal at the Senior World Championships in July, Team USA started the 2017-18 season with the bronze medal on Sunday.
Ross and Lu, members of the silver medal-winning team, teamed up with Massialas and Dubrovich to represent Team USA
Although the Americans earned a bye into the quarter-finals, their bout against Hungary would go down to the wire as Team USA avoided the upset, 45-44, with Ross scoring the final touch as the anchor.
The semifinals also came down to the final touch. With Russia leading the match, 40-37, after the first eight bouts, Ross took on Svetlana Tripapina in the anchor bout. Ross made up the gap and tied the bout at 44, but Tripapina scored the winning touch in overtime to close out the match at 45-44. The Russians went on to win gold – the first title for the program since winning the 2016 World Team Championships.
Team USA fenced Canada for bronze, winning the match, 33-26, to earn the final spot on the podium.
Top eight and U.S. results are as follows:
Cancun Women’s Individual Foil World Cup
1. Lee Kiefer (Lexington, Ky.)
2. Alice Volpi (ITA)
3. Martina Batini (ITA)
3. Arianna Errigo (ITA)
5. Ysaora Thibus (FRA)
6. Nicole Ross (New York, N.Y.)
7. Pauline Ranvier (FRA)
8. Eleanor Harvey (CAN)
21. Nzingha Prescod (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
25. Jackie Dubrovich (Riverdale, N.J.)
28. Sylvie Binder (Armonk, N.Y.)
34. Margaret Lu (Greenwich, Conn.)
55. Sabrina Massialas (San Francisco, Calif.)
59. Iman Blow (Brooklyn, N.Y.)
88. Jessie Laffey (Glen Ridge, N.J.)
104. Quinn Crum (Providence, R.I.)
Cancun Women’s Team Foil World Cup