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SHANGHAI, China - The 2018 Hyundai Archery World Cup season begins this week in Shanghai, China. Shanghai is hosting its 11th leg of the circuit since 2006 inception and has been the first stop of the tour since 2012. The venue is familiar for many of the USA archers representing the stars and stripes in competition this week, but for a strong 2018 squad, it will be a new experience for several archers.
Making the U.S. team for World Cups is no easy feat. Archers must compete at national ranking events and consistently perform on top. In an increasingly competitive home field, the depth of talent is impressive and being named to the team is a great challenge and honor.
Competition begins Tuesday morning with qualification and first elimination rounds for the compound divisions, followed by the same events for recurve archers the next day. Another big change on the circuit this year: the winner of each of the four qualifying stages will earn a spot at the prestigious Archery World Cup Final this fall. There is still a maximum of two archers per country allowed to qualify, so consistency over the course of the year will be critical.
World Archery commented on historical U.S. compound dominance in this venue: "The USA's compound squad has been highly successful in Shanghai, winning nine gold medals between the men and women. Korea's recurve men's and women's teams follow with a combined eight."
Filling out the U.S. compound men's team this weekend are reigning World Champions Steve Anderson, Braden Gellenthien and Kris Schaff, joined by one of the circuit's most decorated archers of all time, Reo Wilde. Gellenthien also currently holds the individual world record with 718/720 and both he and Anderson report coming off top personal performances at another shoot just days ago in the States. This foursome will be tough to beat.
The compound women's team of Jamie Van Natta, Paige Pearce Gore, Lexi Keller and Danielle Reynolds also boasts a record of success. Van Natta has appeared on the Shanghai podium 10 times in her career so far. Pearce Gore, who holds the most youth world titles of any archer in history, returns to the stage after an insane indoor season with multiple top finishes on the indoor world cup circuit and team gold at the World Indoor Championships. Keller scored well with Gore at last fall's World Archery Championships and won team silver at this stage in 2015. Reynolds currently boasts the highest world ranking on the team, but is relatively less experienced on the world cup circuit and will be one to watch this week.
Olympic medalist Brady Ellison leads the U.S. recurve men's squad. The recurve men's division has had a different individual champion each year. Ellison took the crown in 2012 - will he be the first to take a repeat win? Ellison competes alongside team youth world champion Jack Williams in his world cup debut, his teammate from the World Archery Championships, Tom Stanwood, and resident athlete Matt Requa. Requa has made several appearances on the circuit, but has yet to finish on a podium. He came as close as 4th at the indoor Marrakesh stage this past season and is hungry for a breakout international year.
Olympian Mackenzie Brown and five-time Olympian Khatuna Lorig will head the recurve women's team. Together with LaNola Shepherd, the trio won silver at the 2017 Shanghai edition and is back for more. Lorig and Shepherd also hold a team bronze from this venue in 2015, while Brown and Lorig each have several mixed team medals to their Shanghai resumes. Erin Mickelberry has had several world cup appearances since 2011 and will look to have a breakout year as well on the recurve team.
Follow USA in competition this week at www.worldarchery.org. For photos and more from the event, follow USA Archery on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This weekend, the finals will be streamed live for U.S. viewers on the Olympic Channel.
Photo: World Archery
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