Bladesports has been gaining ground the last few years, with new sponsors and a bunch of new competitors entering the field. I’m glad to see it, and shake-ups are bound to happen as a result. So it was with the 2017 World Championships held at BLADE Show in Atlanta.
First to cut this year were the women. Last year was the first time ever that there were enough competitors for a separate women’s division, and it is good to see that momentum continuing to build. The knife industry is on a roll lately, and as more and more women get into knives, that momentum looks to continue.
Nicole Warden smashed through the course to repeat her win last year. She is now not just the first Women’s National Champion, but the first to win back to back as well.
Coming in a close second was Nicole’s training partner, first-year cutter Alicia LaRue. Both women were sponsored by our friends at L.T. Wright Knives, and both are breast cancer survivors to boot. Makes me think I need to do a lot more with my life!
On a personal note, I have had the pleasure of camping multiple times with the husbands of both of these fine women, so from a professional and personal standpoint, I couldn’t be happier. Congratulations ladies!
The big shake up this year however came from the Men’s side. For the past several years, Donavan Philips and Dan Keffeler have been the guys to beat, with the two taking the top spots in the Nationals and Worlds for some time, with Keffeler winning the last four consecutive World Championships. That all changed on Saturday, June 3.
First-year cutter and Bladesports-certified knifemaker James Clifton (Roosterfish Fabrication) has ended that streak. I had the pleasure of meeting James last year at the Keystone Cut in August where he placed fourth. He was kind enough to do a 5 From The Grinder interview with us as well. Big congratulations to James for coming out on top this year!
Photos in this article appear courtesy of Christopher Warden.