USA compounders fill half of all places in the Guatemala final fours

Savannah Vanderwier and Paige Pearce shoot in the quarterfinals of the first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup in Guatemala City.

Half of the archers in the compound final fours in Guatemala City represent the USA. They will shoot for the individual golds this Saturday at this first stage of the 2021 Hyundai Archery World Cup.

World number one Braden Gellenthien and 2018 circuit champion Kris Schaff are joined by reigning Hyundai Archery World Cup Champion Mike Schloesser of the Netherlands and Slovakia’s Jozef Bosansky in the compound men’s semifinal line-up. Alexis Ruiz, the top-ranked compound woman in the world, and Savannah Vanderwier will contend with Dane Tanja Gellenthien (née Jensen) and Nora Valdez of Colombia.

The compound eliminations reached their pivotal stages on an overcast and breezy Wednesday afternoon at the Sport Complex Los Arcos.

And while the compound final fours in Guatemala City are rammed with experience, it is 21-year-old Vanderwier, making her debut on the Hyundai Archery World Cup circuit, whose name stands out from the crowd. She defeated top-seeded teammate Paige Pearce in a shoot-off in the quarterfinals, shooting a better 10 in a tiebreak.

“Oh, my goodness, it feels amazing,” a noticeably emotional Vanderwier said after the match. “Honestly, I’m still so shaky. I got so nervous for that, which is so funny because I normally don’t get that nervous. This is really exciting!”

She will face Gellenthien in the second semifinal in the finals arena in three days’ time, immediately after Ruiz takes on Valdez.

“I’m very excited about the new format because I think the more experience in the finals field… the more experience, the better,” said Vanderwier, who has won international medals in the under-18 age group. “I think it’s cool and a great idea. I’m excited.”

Ruiz beat world number two and reigning Hyundai Archery World Cup Champion Sara Lopez, who had a sub-par qualification in Guatemala by her high standards and subsequently a tougher path through the brackets, in the quarterfinals, 146-145.

“We tied the first end, and I just kept making strong shots and, in my mind, I was like whatever happens, she’s a good shot, I’m a good shot, someone is going to win, and I won," Ruiz said. "I just can't describe the feeling."

This is Valdez’s first individual finals appearance on the circuit.

Ruiz won the most recent stage in Berlin in 2019, while Jensen has podiumed before – but never taken gold.

Braden Gellenthien, currently ranked first in the world, is a two-time Hyundai Archery World Cup Champion, but he lost the gold-medal match at the 2019 Hyundai Archery World Cup Final to Dutchman Schloesser, who entered this tournament in Guatemala as the world number two. The pair also seeded first and second Tuesday, though the numbers were reversed.

“It’s been a long layoff and it’s been pretty hard mentally trying to figure out where you are in the world and what your purpose is when you’re not competing, so it’s good to be back,” Braden said. “It feels great to be back representing the USA.”

No doubt it’ll feel even better if he leaves Latin America with his sixth-career stage victory on the international circuit.

“My matches need a little bit of work, but it’s good to be finding comfort in those positions again,” he added.

Gellenthien will face Bosansky in the opening semifinal of the compound men’s final four. Schloesser draws Schaff for the second spot in the final.

“Everybody can win it,” said Kris. “We’re all shooting good now. Hopefully, I can get past Mikey, but it would be a tough feat.”

The winners in Guatemala City will book the first tickets to this year’s Hyundai Archery World Cup Final. The deciding matches will be broadcast live on Saturday afternoon with international streaming in certain territories.

Final fours

Archers are listed in match order, with seed in brackets. The first two archers face each other in the first semifinal, the second two in the second semifinal.

Compound men

Compound women