After the better part of three years, the U.S. women’s saber fencing team is back on the podium.
The U.S. squad of Mariel Zagunis, Chloe Fox-Gitomer, Eliza Stone and Kamali Thompson earned bronze Sunday at the FIE Women’s Saber World Cup in Salt Lake City.
Team USA defeated Ukraine to secure a podium position at a world cup for the first time since winning gold in Yangzhou, China, on March 26, 2017.
The U.S. fell to France, the No. 2 team in the world, 45-31 in the semifinals in Salt Lake City to put itself into the bronze-medal match. France jumped out to an 8-1 lead, and while the U.S. was able to gain some ground early, it was a lead that France would never relinquish. France went on to claim gold over Hungary, 45-25.
In the bronze-medal match, Ukraine led early but Stone pulled ahead, 15-14, and each successive U.S. fencer widened the gap. Zagunis put the bow on the victory, closing out the 45-39 win.
Zagunis is the only member of the team with Olympic experience, and she has it in spades. A four-time Olympian, she won individual gold in both 2004 and 2008, and team bronze in both 2008 and 2016. The women’s team saber event was not held in 2012.
The bronze in Salt Lake City is the 38th world cup medal of Zagunis’ career and first international medal since May of 2018, when she won bronze at the grand prix in Moscow. The most decorated fencer in U.S. history, she also has five individual world championships medals to her name and eight team medals. In the individual event in Salt Lake City on Saturday, she placed 13th.
Stone earned individual bronze at the 2018 world championships, and has been part of three team world medals.
The U.S. defeated Germany 45-35 to advance to the quarterfinals. There, Team USA advanced to the semifinals by downing Italy in a nail-biter, 45-43.
The U.S. women opened the 2019-20 season with a ninth-place finish at the world cup in Orleans, France, following a seventh-place showing at the 2019 world championships.