Fine craftsmanship and finesse are nothing new at the Institute of Contemporary Art, though usually they're contained within the Seaport District's monolithic museum. But Saturday, under a sunny late-summer sky, all eyes were on the outside of the glass façade, taking in the spectacle of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, plunging into the Boston Harbor for the second year in a row. It was the only North American stop on the seven-date tour, which routinely travels to such exotic locales as Corsica and the volcanic shores of the Portuguese Azores Islands. The event was met with enthusiasm by an audience of 47,000 onlookers gathered at Fan Pier, nearly twice the amount that came out last year.
>> SLIDESHOW: Red Bull Cliff Diving <<
"It was truly amazing," marveled four-time Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis afterward. "It was so nice to see so many people show up; it really is an exciting event."
Louganis was one of the judges for the World Series, which involved 13 divers launching themselves off the ICA from a platform eight stories (about 90 feet) high, into the Charles River. The UK's Gary Hunt came in first, followed by Colombia's Orlando Duque and Michigan's David Colturi. While not as well-known in the diving community as more mainstream Olympic events, cliff diving generates interest that's a boon for the sport, says Louganis.
"We're in a tough space in diving because so many of the pools are getting shut down and a lot of the kids aren't being exposed to diving," he says. "Our success at the Olympics, starting with the women's silver medal and synchro getting two bronze, and culminating in David Boudia's gold medal — it really brings a lot of attention and focus onto where kids might have an interest and say, 'Mom, Dad, I want to try this stuff.' "
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