COLORADO SPRINGS, CO -- A little more than a month after becoming the first ever skeet shooter to repeat Olympic gold, Vincent Hancock heads to Maribor and the World Cup Finals.
Joining Hancock in Maribor will be two-time Olympian and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Corey Cogdell (Eagle River, Alaska) along with 2012 Olympian and 2010 World Champion Josh Richmond (USAMU/Hillsgrove, Pa.). Rising trap shooter Kayle Browning (Wooster, Ark.) along with female skeet shooters Caitlin Connor (Winnfield, La.) and Brandy Drozd (Bryan, Texas) are also competing in the year-end competition.
Hancock won the gold medal in London by setting both a qualifying Olympic record hitting 123 of 125 targets and then backing that up with a perfect 25/25 in the final for an Olympic record of 148/150 overall. Hancock became the first skeet shooter ever to win back-to-back gold medals in the event after winning the 2008 Olympic gold medal as well.
"What I've been taught is to know that I'm the best," said Hancock at the time. "That's what I was telling myself out there. I knew that I was going to win this before I stepped out on that field; it's that expectation that I set for myself."
Eleven men will try and knock Hancock from his perch atop the Men's Skeet world including the three men that finished well behind the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit Sergeant. Silver medalist Anders Golding of Denmark, bronze medalist Nasser Al-Attitya of Qatar and fourth-place finisher Valeriy Shomin of Russia are all expected to compete.
"This competition has the top shooters of the year competing against each other," said Hancock. "It is yet another stage for us to show the world what the US athletes are capable of."
Cogdell is hopeful to put results of a bad final round in London behind her and showcase the skills that led her to an Olympic bronze medal in Beijing as well as the World Cup win she earned at the Tucson World Cup in March.
"It is always such an honor to compete in the World Cup Finals as one of the top 12 in the world," said Cogdell. "I'm looking forward to wrapping up my World Cup season with a strong performance."
Joining Cogdell in the talented women's trap field is Browningwho finished second to Cogdell for an Olympic selection. Browning earned her way to Maribor after earning a career first World Cup medal at the London Prepares event in April. The wind, rain and cold conditions of London couldn't detract Browning from recording the top performance of her career as the Arkansas native earned a bronze medal.
"I'm ready for this competition," said Browning. "I've got the right equipment and hopefully my hard work and training will pay off to the team's advantage."
Four of the top five finishers from the 2012 Olympic Games will compete alongside the American trap shooters including all three medalists. Jessica Rossi of Italy was the eventual gold medal winner followed by Zuzana Stefecekova of Slovakia and Delphine Reau of France. Also competing will be Fatima Galvez of Spain, a fifth-place finisher in London as well as 2008 Olympic gold medalist Satu Makela-Nummela of Finland.
For Double Trap expert Richmond, Maribor couldn't have come sooner as he looks to reverse the bad taste he's had in his mouth since leaving the firing line in London.
An ominous beginning for the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit shooter and an uncharacteristic number of first-target misses would shatter confidence and rattle nerves throughout his first Olympic shoot. Trying to put it together in rounds two and three of qualifying, Richmond struggled with consistency throughout.
Richmond finished in 16th place with a score of 131 with rounds of 44, 42 and 45, which was the lowest recorded score in world-level competition since 2006.
London gold medalist Peter Wilson of Great Britain won't be present at the World Cup Finals, but silver medalist Hakan Dahlby of Sweden, Russian bronze medalist Vasily Mosin, fourth-place Kuwaiti Fehaid Aldeehani and fifth-place Russian Vitaly Fokeev will all participate. In addition, 2008 Olympic silver medalist Francesco D'Aniello of Italy will be among the contenders as well.
A demanding post-Olympic schedule will prevent five-time Olympic medalist Kim Rhode (El Monte, Calif.) from competing in the Women's Skeet World Cup Final. However, two capable shooters will try and fill the void. Connoris a National Team athlete who has medaled in the previous four USA Shooting National Championships and finished sixth at the Lonato (Italy) World Cup earlier this year. Drozd is a rising junior shooter who showcased her potential on home soil during the Tucson World Cup in March with a bronze-medal finish.
The World Cup Final will feature London silver medalist Ning Wei of China and bronze medalist Danka Bartekova of Slovakia. Also competing is 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Christine Wenzel of Germany who nearly secured a second Olympic medal in London with a fourth-place finish.
ISSF World Cup Finals are organized every year, as a conclusion of the ISSF World Cup Series, and feature the best eight shooters in each event with the highest qualification values along with wild cards granted to others such as defending champions and this year to the three Olympic medalists in each event.
World Cup Final Schedule
Saturday, Sept. 22 Women's Trap Qualifying + Final
Men's Trap Qualifying
Sunday, Sept. 23 Men's Trap Qualifying (cont.) + Final
Monday, Sept. 24 Women's Skeet Qualifying + Final
Double Trap Qualifying + Final
Men's Skeet Qualifying
Tuesday, Sept. 25 Men's Skeet Qualifying (cont.) + Final