It Was a Romanian Double at the Red Bull Cliff Diving Exhibition in Oslo

By Reuters
August 14, 2021 Updated: August 14, 2021

Oslo Opera House debuts as a sports venue as the Red Bull Cliff Diving elite showcase their skills from the rooftop.

On a competitive afternoon in Norway’s capital city, Romania’s Constantin Popovici narrowly defeated compatriot Catalin Preda to victory in what turned out to be more of a “Romanian rumble” than an exhibition at the Oslo Opera House.

Following a slow start in Friday’s first round, Preda roared into life on Saturday afternoon, displaying the same acrobatic finesse and unerring precision that fired him to victory at the first stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series in Saint-Raphaël in June. “Yesterday the weather surprised me and I’m really happy with how I recovered myself today,” Preda said. “That’s certainly a confidence booster!”

Popovici was in equally stunning form, ripping the final dive of the competition under pressure to edge past his rival. “It was a competition between Catalin, Gary, and myself and I’m glad I turned out the winner. More than that, I’m really impressed with the crowd and how everything looks from the top. This is absolutely my favorite place.”

Cliff diving’s legendary Gary Hunt, representing France since this year, finished third. He said of the mammoth 30m platform, the longest in cliff diving history and stretching out from the rooftop of the Oslo Opera House: “This is not a platform, it’s a runway. It’s simply impressive and you can see it from so far off. This place was great. I didn’t expect so many people to come out. I hope we’ll come back here!”

This was the first-ever sporting event held at the Opera House, and while no ranking points were on offer due to the travel restrictions, which had forced this stop into exhibition status, it felt every bit as exciting and dramatic as a World Series event. Not only was there another tantalizing glimpse at what may well turn out to be a thrilling three-way tussle for the King Kahekili trophy, but the Norwegian fans who came out to watch were also able to enjoy some of the up-and-coming talent in the sport.

Spain’s Carlos Gimeno, the armstand specialist, furthered the feeling of deja-vu here by repeating his fourth-place finish from France, while Swiss duo Matthias Appenzeller and Jean-David Duval, along with Germany’s Manuel Halbisch, earned some valuable experience from the platform. Alain Kohl (LUX) and Michal Navrátil (CZE) drew on all their years of experience to help put on a great show, with the Czech showman donning his Superman cape for one final crowd-pleasing dive.

The nine men were joined by Spain’s Celia Fernández, the only female diver in Oslo, who opened each round with a dive from the 20m platform.

Following this exhibition event, all eyes now turn to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where the 12 women and 12 men will get back to championship action when the World Series returns to the historic Stari Most bridge for the sixth season in a row on Aug. 28.

Results from Red Bull Cliff Diving Exhibition Oslo:

1. Constantin Popovici ROU – 406.00 pts

2. Catalin Preda ROU – 403.70

3. Gary Hunt FRA – 376.55

4. Carlos Gimeno ESP – 339.20

5. Michal Navrátil CZE – 297.05

6. Matthias Appenzeller SUI – 296.50

7. Alain Kohl LUX – 266.60

8. Manuel Halbisch GER – 247.45

9. Jean-David Duval SUI – 203.90

By Red Bull Media House