SHANGHAI - Despite a finals venue that was soaking wet and subject to strong winds, the archers of Team USA shot their way onto the World Cup podium five times this weekend, earning three gold medals, a silver and a bronze. The American team led the medal count for this first stage of the World Cup series, followed by France.
This weekend's headlines belonged to emerging stars as well as sport veterans: Bridger Deaton (Pella, Iowa) - making his World Cup debut - won an individual bronze medal, earned mixed team silver with Erika Jones (Grand Island, Neb.) and won team gold with fellow Americans Reo Wilde (Pocatello, Idaho) and Braden Gellenthien (Hudson, Mass.).
World No. 1 Jones also clinched another gold medal of her own, joining Tristan Skarvan (College Station, Texas) and Jamie Van Natta (Toledo, Ohio) in a successful smackdown versus Chinese Taipei.
The sole Americans in the recurve finals were the mixed team of Mackenzie Brown (Tyler, Texas) and Brady Ellison (Payson, Ariz.). Together, they overcame Mexican powerhouse team Aida Roman and Juan Rene Serrano to win the gold medal in a 6-0 shutout.
Three-time Olympian Ellison and World Cup rookie Brown proved to be a formidable team, and Brown's success speaks to the potential of the Olympic hopefuls in the U.S. “I wasn’t very nervous at all shooting my first World Cup final,” 19 year old Brown told World Archery. “I just went out, had a lot of fun and shot good shots with Brady.”
Also notable in this first stage of the World Cup was the emergence of international talent on the compound side; for the first time in recent memory, the individual finals didn't have an American shooting for a medal, evidence that the race for compound medals is now very much a global one.
However, Team USA won't be easily moved from the podium; with veterans like Jones, Van Natta, Gellenthien and Wilde still dominating the circuit, and newcomers like Deaton, Brown and Skarvan moving up through the ranks, the future looks bright indeed.
“I’m from Texas so I don’t get to practice a lot in rain,” said Skarvan, shooting at her second World Cup stage. “We shot before the match and got our sights ready, and I [had] two very experienced teammates to help me through.”
Watch the recurve finals, and check out scores, photos and more on World Archery's website. Up next for Team USA is the second stage of the World Cup series, May 13-18 in Medellin, Colombia.