Q&A with the Academy's Fencers

Nov. 14, 2011

In October 2011, the Academy's fencers competed in the annual Falcon Open, several fencers earned gold medals, some for the first time in their Academy careers; others made the return trip to the winner's circle. In this article, some of the cadet-athletes answer questions about their success at the Falcon Open, how they got started in fencing, and why they chose the Academy.

Can you talk about your wins in the Falcon Open?

Alexander Chiang: During the Falcon Open I mostly emphasized on my opponents' mistakes, hitting them in preparation or with counter-attacks. Doing this made them not want to attack me, which allowed me to attack as I pleased.

Chase Houser: After finishing 5-1 in pools and ranked 7th, I didn't struggle on any bouts until I fenced Leo Kust, a fencer from Kansas. In the first period I was behind 5-10, but after a short break, I regained my composure. I ended up winning the bout 15-14. I then had to fence two pentathlon fencers. They were very difficult, but I eventually figured them out and won my bouts 15-9 and 15-11. I then was in the semi-finals. I fenced a fencer who won the previous competition. I beat him decisively 15-8. In the finals I fenced an old friend, Logan Koester. I fenced with him back in California, but I haven't fenced him since for three years. The bout was the toughest of the day, but I overcame my nerves and won 15-10.

Heather Nelson: The Falcon Open is traditionally a pretty small event for women's saber but I was happily surprised to have 10 people in the event this year. Very often the level of competition for women's saber in the West is lower because a lot of the power-house schools are on the East coast so when I compete in our home events I try to strive for perfection: working actions cleanly, getting the opponent to do what I want and trying to not allow any touches against me to land. I think I did a pretty good job of accomplishing those objectives, I had a good indicator over the day and I was very happy with how I fenced. The biggest thing to remember in any tournament is that you can't take the opponent for granted because they could come out of nowhere and take you by surprise so I try not to go into the event with any expectations of results and just take the day bout by bout.



Emiliano Kaptain: Each bout had the same goal: get the points necessary to win. This strategy worked very well for me and resulted in a first place finish.

How did you get started in fencing?

Alexander Chiang: I started fencing because my mom made me. In my second year of fencing I placed third in the Y-10 event at Summer Nationals, and that's what sparked my interest in fencing.

Chase Houser: I lived in Singapore for four years and played baseball. Returning to the United States, I arrived too late for the baseball season. I wasn't on any sports teams at the time and I was looking for something fun to do to entertain myself. My mom heard about fencing and decided to sign my brother and me up. I have continued to have the passion for fencing for eight years now.

Heather Nelson: When I was in fifth grade, my best friend at the time was third in the country in his age group in fencing. His dad started an after-school club for those who wanted to learn how to fence. I did it at the club/recreational level for three years before I started training for the national team.

Emiliano Kaptain: I began fencing because my little brother did it and I wanted to try.

Why did you come to USAFA?

Alexander Chiang: I came to USAFA for the chance to give back to my nation, and for the great opportunities it provided.

Chase Houser: I came to USAFA because of the education, fencing, and guaranteed career once I graduate. I also always wanted to fly AC-130's. Since coming to the Academy, I now want to become commissioned as Contracting Officer.

Heather Nelson: I came to USAFA because I've been interested in space and rocketry since I was 8. My dad told me that if I wanted to work with rockets I had to either work for NASA or join the Air Force. I had an aunt and an uncle who graduated from here in 1984 so this seemed like a good way to go about joining the Air Force and getting a good education that will hopefully one day lead to being an astronaut.

Emiliano Kaptain: I came to USAFA because of the educational and athletic opportunities.

This interview is courtesy of C3C Ben Scott.

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