Race Imboden had been waiting nearly three years for what finally came Saturday evening in Shanghai.
With a bronze medal earned at a grand prix event, the two-time Olympic foil fencer returned to the No. 1 ranking in the world. He last held that spot after the 2014-15 season, when he became the first American man to win an overall world cup title and just the second ever to be No. 1 in the world.
In Shanghai, Imboden entered as the world No. 3 and dominated his first three opponents – first taking down two Frenchmen: Wallerand Roger, 15-6, and Julien Mertine, 15-8, before a 15-7 rout of fellow American Sidarth Kumbla.
He faced Edoardo Luperi of Italy, now ranked 28th, and won that bout as well, 15-10, to move on to the semifinal, where he would fall to Olympic and world bronze medalist Timur Safin of Russia, 15-10.
Safin took silver after losing to Great Britain’s Richard Kruse 15-13 in the championship match. Italy’s Andrea Cassara was the other bronze medalist, falling to Kruse 15-14 in their semifinal.
In addition to moving up two spots in the world rankings, Imboden continued his streak as the most consistent and successful U.S. men’s foil fencer this season. He has medaled at two of three grand prixs and one world cup, while finishing among the top 10 at all eight of his international events this season.
Three-time Olympian Gerek Meinhardt finished fifth after falling to Cassara in the quarterfinals.
Alexander Massialas moved up to the No. 2 world ranking after placing 33rd in Shanghai.
Imboden, Massialas, Meinhardt and Miles Chamley-Watson won team bronze at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and are currently the top-ranked team in the world after winning all five of this season’s world cups.