This year the Indoor World Cup Final was held in conjunction with the World Archery Festival in Vegas.
Those of us women shooting in both the Vegas tournament and the World Cup Final, had a LONG day. We shot 7am and then not again until 7pm. We were given a 1/2 hour of practice beginning at 6:30 and then it was elimination rounds to determine the winners. The arena was full of people and there was definitely an energy as people cheered and prizes were thrown into the crowd. I love this side of the sport, and wish we did a better job of getting the fans involved and having noise vs just a quiet center with the only sound being arrows hitting the target. If you haven’t seen it already, make sure check out the video feed (was live at the time) for that evening’s event.
My first match was against Erja from Finland. We had faced each other in the 2nd round in Morocco, so I was familiar with her and knew it was not going to be an easy match. I won the first end, but then we tied on the next two. Because we are still using set scoring that meant I was only up 4-2. It would take a win by me in the next end to close out the match, which is what I did.
Next up for me was Pascale from France. We had shot together the first two days in Vegas, and I knew that even though she had dropped a couple 10s, her X count was way up there…which is what mattered that night. I went up 2-0 before losing the next two ends to trail her 4-2. I knew I had to focus on just making good shots, instead of on the score. I shot a perfect 30 to tie things up, and then we split the last end at 29-29 to go to a one arrow closest to the center shoot-off. I was now fired up, as I love the high pressure situation these create, but I did know that she had won this in the first round to advance to this round. We both shot 10s, however, it was deemed they were within 1mm, so we had to reshoot another closest to the center, one arrow shoot-off. We again both shot 10s, however, this time we were able to discern that mine was closer, without calling a judge.
I was now guaranteed a medal match and would shoot against Christie, one of my teammates for Nimes, to determine who went to the gold and who went to the bronze medal match. I shot 30s for the first two ends taking an early 4-0 lead. I knew Christie was a strong competitor, but I just told myself each end, if I shoot a 30 she can’t beat me (we can tie, but she can’t win). In the third end, I shot what felt like three good shots, and I came off the line to cheers from R and my friends. They said I had just won as she had dropped at least 1 and I had all 10s. As Christie came off the line, she looked through her binoculars and turned to congratulate me as well. I was going to the gold medal match and couldn’t have been happier!
Once we got down to the target, however, everything changed. Christie had a 29, just like everyone had predicted, however, after closer inspection, so did I, meaning we both got a point and I was only up 5-1 (not taking the win at 6-0). I was now pissed, as I felt like everything came crashing down around me. No one had told me my arrow was close, so I went from victory to not in a flash. All I had to do was tie and I would still move on to the gold medal match, but unfortunately, I let this get to me and shot three 9s the next end. I was now up only 5-3, and I knew Christie was not someone I could let in the door, as she can drill 30s, so I was scared of losing the match. I refocused and told myself all I had to do was shoot 3 good shots. If I could shoot a 30, it didn’t matter if she did bc a tie would give me the win at 6-4. I managed to shoot the 30, so the match was over for real this time and I would get to face Erika in the gold medal match.
I told myself regardless of the outcome I would be happy. Erika is the #1 ranked archer in the world, and I have yet to beat her in a head-to-head matchup (though I tied her in Florida during Team Trials). I told myself I just wanted to have fun and shoot good shots. Just like in Morocco, I asked Lexi to be my coach in the box. I figured it worked there, and I didn’t want to mess with a proven system.
I have to stop for a minute here and say, I do my best not to sugar coat things but instead give my honest thoughts/feelings with this blog. Keeping that in mind, I have to say I was hugely disappointed in the medal matches for this event. After a remarkable production (smoke, lights, etc) of the medal matches in the UK (watch the video here if you haven’t seen it). They did all 4 bronze medal matches simultaneously (men/women, compound/recurve), so those were no different from the previous elimination matches, which I thought caused them to lose the drama of a medal match. And while the gold medal matches were held one at a time, I found them anti-climatic. We didn’t have arrow agents, so instead of standing near the spectators on the line, we had to go down and score our own arrows. Also, I felt like the building actually got quieter during these matches with less cheers from the crowd and excitement. Yes, there was an announcer calling arrows and it was live on tv, but it just didn’t have the feel of a gold medal match for me. In fact, I would have to say even the people of Morocco did a much better job creating hype during the medal matches in the first stage.
Regardless of my feelings on how it was run, it was time for Erika and I to shoot after both recurve gold matches had finished (fast forward to around 1:55 to see the video of our match). First end Erika got to shoot first as the top seed, and she hit three good 10s. I just missed left on the middle target, so I was down 2-0 right away. I was now shooting first, however, it didn’t seem to matter, as the exact same thing happened. Now the score was 4-0. I knew it was going to be tough to win at this point, but I knew I had been down 5-1 vs Erika in Florida when I came back and tied it up by shooting 30s to her 29s.
My first shot was a 10, as was hers, and I came to the middle target which I had shot just left of twice now. After drawing back, instead of focusing on my shot sequence, I tried to tell myself to aim a little right. This caused me to hold REALLY long (usually my shots are quick), and for the first time in my life I heard someone counting down for me (you only have 20 seconds to get your shot off or it is considered a miss). I heard “4” (meaning 4 seconds left), and it caught me so off guard, it actually fired the shot for me, right into the 9 ring. Erika cleaned her target with another perfect 30, to easily win 6-0.
I was bummed bc I felt like I had let the crowd down by not at least taking a point. I knew I had shot well (my 9s were all very close to the 10 ring) and she truly is the best in the world, but as I told her when we went to collect our arrows, “someday I’m going to give you a run for your money.” I have to remind myself that she has been doing this a LONG time, and getting a silver medal at a World Cup final is NOTHING to be ashamed of. These loses are what continues to push me to get better, and I know if I continue the hard work, my day will come.