MARIBOR, SLOVENIA -- For one USA Shooting team member, Slovenian gold proved to be just the salve needed to subside a painful Olympic sting. For two female skeet shooters not named Kim Rhode, the World Cup Finals proved yet again the depth within the female ranks of the USA Shooting shotgun program.
Six members of Team USA are currently competing at the International Shooting Sports World Cup Finals for Shotgun in Maribor, Slovenia. Kayle Browning (Wooster, Ark.) finished sixth Saturday in Women's Trap followed by 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Corey Cogdell (Eagle River, Alaska) in ninth place.
Monday featured plenty more from the Red, White and Blue contingent as the first two podiums we're earned along with a fourth-place finish.
For Double Trap expert Josh Richmond (USAMU/Hillsgrove, Pa.), Maribor couldn't have come sooner as he was looking to reverse the bad taste he's had in his mouth since leaving the firing line in London with a disappointing 16th place finish.
Richmond would lead all qualifiers by shooting 145/150 in a lineup that featured four of the top-five finishers from London along with the 2008 Olympic silver medalist. In the final, Richmond would miss three of his first 12 targets but would settle down to nail his final 13 straight to claim victory.
"This medal is for all my family, friends and supporters" Richmond said. "It feels great to come back after a bad Olympics and be on top of the podium again. I'm very happy, as this is my first ISSF World Cup Final medal. The targets were difficult today, with a lot of variation due to the wind and the machines. Overall, I am extremely happy with this result."
Finishing one target behind was Ronjan Sondhi of India followed by Kuwaiti Fehaid Aldeehani, who finished fourth at the 2012 Olympic Games.
A demanding post-Olympic schedule prevented five-time Olympic medalist Kim Rhode (El Monte, Calif.) from competing in the Women's Skeet World Cup Final. However, the depth and talent of the U.S. women's skeet shooting program was still on display.
Brandy Drozd continued her impressive 2012 season with a silver medal at the 2012 World Cup Finals. A National Junior Team member, Drozd earned her first World Cup medal back in March and followed that up with a Junior Olympic Title and fourth-place finish at Nationals in July.
Brandy Drozd (Bryan, Texas) earned her first World Cup medal in an overseas competition picking up the silver medal Monday after surviving a three-person shoot-off that included her teammate Caitlin Connor (Winnfield, La.).
Slovakia's Danka Bartekova, a 2012 London Olympic bronze medalist, would pocket the World Cup title with an overall score of 95 targets.
Ending up with a tied score of 93 hits, Drozd and Connor met Beijing's Olympic bronze medalist Christine Wenzel, 31, of Germany. Connor was the first to leave the shoot-off, missing a target on her second double. The 21-year-old shooter landed in fourth, with an overall score of 93 (70+23) hits, and three hits in the shoot-off.
Drozd then won the duel against Wenzel, securing the silver medal with 93 (69+24) hits plus nine targets in the shoot-off, leaving Wenzel in third with 93+8 hits.
The 18-year-old Drozd was today's youngest finalist and qualified for this Final by winning a bronze medal at this year's ISSF World Cup Stage in Tucson, Ariz. She had never participated in an ISSF World Cup Final before, while Wenzel had won the 2009 edition.
China's Zhang Donglian, the London Olympic silver medalist, finished in fifth with a total score of 90 (70+20) hits, preceding the Italian finalist Diana Bacosi, sixth with 84 (65+19) hits.
In Men's Skeet action, two-time Olympic gold medalist Vincent Hancock (USAMU/Eatonton, Ga.) is one behind Anders Golden of Denmark through three of five rounds after shooting a 73/75. Hancock is in a three-way tie for second in a pack that includes Golden's teammate Jesper Hansen and Russian Valeriy Shomin. Men's Skeet qualifying and finals-round action will conclude on Tuesday in Maribor.