Nick Itkin celebrates at the foil fencing grand prix finale on May 19, 2019 in Shanghai.
U.S. foil fencers Nick Itkin and Lee Kiefer each fell to the reigning world champions but are still coming home with medals after the final grand prix event of the season wrapped up Sunday in Shanghai.
Itkin, the 2018 world junior champion, won the silver medal after falling to Alessio Foconi of Italy in the men’s championship bout in his first grand prix final. Foconi won world titles both individually and with the team in 2018, in addition to a team world title in 2017.
Kiefer, a two-time Olympian and defending world team champion, fell to reigning world champion Alice Volpi of Italy in the semifinals to secure a bronze medal to close out the women’s grand prix season.
Itkin faced and beat his teammate, Miles Chamley-Watson, in the table of 16 and then came back from a 12-2 deficit to beat Italy’s Tommaso Marini 15-14 in the quarterfinals, securing a medal finish. The semifinals then saw Itkin defeat Timur Safin, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist from Russia. The 15-7 win set up the title bout with Foconi.
Itkin won his first senior world cup medal in November, beating both Foconi and the reigning Olympic champion, Daniele Garozzo, along the way to a bronze medal. Sunday’s match was close, but ultimately Foconi took the victory, 15-14.
Fellow American Gerek Meinhardt finished fifth, while Chamley-Watson was 11th.
The No. 5-ranked fencer in the world, Kiefer went 4-1 on the final day, including a 15-13 quarterfinal win over Italy’s Erica Cipressa and a 15-11 semifinal win over Japan’s Yuka Ueno, setting up the semifinal match against Volpi.
Kiefer’s run ended there with a 15-9 loss, as Volpi went on to claim the silver medal. Teammate Nicole Ross finished 10th.
Next up for the U.S. foil teams are the world championships in July in Hungary. The U.S. women enter that tournament as defending champions, while the men won a silver medal in 2018.