The 2007 Pan American Zonal Fencing Championships are being held this week outside of Montreal, Canada.

These events count as Grand Prix events in terms of points and count towards Olympic qualification.  For the Olympics, teams are qualified based upon overall world ranking.  The zonal championships count as team events for the teams and as Grand Prix events with double points for individuals.

For a full description of the qualification paths for the Olympic Games, please read our overview of the Olympic Fencing Qualification Process.

The schedule of events for the Pan Am Zonal Championships:

Individual Events
August 27: Women’s Epee and Men’s Foil
August 28: Men’s Epee and Women’s Sabre
August 29: Men’s Sabre and Women’s Foil

Team Events
August 30: WE, MF and WS
August 31: ME, MS and WF

Women’s Epee and Men’s Foil are only going to have individual events at the 2008 Olympic Games. For those events, today’s result is the most important.

In team events, the US is working to earn points to make sure it is the top ranked team in the Americas zone or to be in the top 4 in world rankings by the end of March.

Here is the current breakdown:

Men’s Epee
US World Rank: 8th
Zonal Rank: 2nd

Key Competitor: Venezuela. VEN is 5th in the world and currently #1 in the zone, but recent US results have the momentum in the US team’s favor. A win of the Zonal Champs and the US will be building up the points needed to make an Olympic run.

Men’s Sabre
US World Rank: 8th
Zonal Rank: 1st

Key Competitors: Canada (10th), Venezuela (14th). Canada is close to the US in points, but the US has placed better of late. With a number of events left until March, the US needs every win.

Women’s Foil
US world rank: 5th
Zonal rank: 1st

Key competitors: Venezuela (2nd in zone, 6th in world), Canada (12th world)

The women’s foil squad needs to place higher than Venezuela and take over the American zone.

Women’s Sabre
US World Rank: #1
Zonal Rank: 1st

Outlook – Canada is 2nd in zone, but almost 200 points separate the US and Canada. Qualifying should not be the concern for the US team – hoarding points to keep the #1 seed should be.


Women’s Epee

Sherraine Schalm (McKay) has dropped down to 7th in the world rankings this season. That still is good enough (just) to get an automatic qualification, but if she drops below the top 8 then the path gets tougher for the other competitors. Right now Courtney Hurley (14th WR) is one of the top in the zone, and the only other fencer in the zone in the top 25.

Men’s Foil

None of the US men are ranked in the top 32, and that could spell trouble for qualification. Josh McGuire of Canada is 16th in the world and Brazil’s Joao Antonio Souza is 22nd. Jon Tiomkin is the closest at 36th and needs to make up 30 points on Souza to get a zonal qualifying slot. Gerek Meinhardt is right behind Tiomkin in 37th.