DIAMOND SPRINGS — Chaz Smith, of the Hangtown Saber Club in Diamond Springs, won the Veteran 50 women’s saber event in dominating fashion at the USA National Championships in Anaheim.
The first phase of the competition saw the field divided into pools with results determining the seeding of the next phase of the championship. Smith faced six opponents in her pool, and turned in a near perfect performance: she won five of her bouts 5-0.
“Chaz lost one bout 3-5,” said Hangtown head coach Ted Smith. “I really think when this fencer from Oregon got the first touch on her she was so shocked it broke her focus.”
Even with the loss, Chaz was the No. 1 seed into the direct elimination phase. As the top seed, Chaz had a first-round bye and easily dispatched her second-round opponent 10-2. In the quarterfinals, Chaz faced the same fencer who defeated her in the pools.
“I wasn’t going to go into any of my direct elimination bouts mentally napping,” Chaz said. She won that bout 10-4 to move into the semifinals, where she notched a 10-8 victory over the 2011 Veteran World Championships bronze medalist, Lydia Mazerol of Southern California.
In the gold-medal match, Chaz faced two-time World Champion, and current World silver medalist, Jane Eyre of New Jersey.
“Jane was one of the fencers I beat 5-0 in my pool, so I was feeling pretty confident going into the final,” said Chaz.
Up 5-1 at the mid-match break, Chaz cruised to a 10-6 victory and the national title.
Ted Smith, competing in the Veteran 50 men’s saber event, was also the No. 1 seed coming out of the pools.
“Ted was looking really sharp — everything was clicking,” Chaz said.
His quarter-final bout was against Donald Anthony, a former US Olympian. Ted kept it close, but a few tiny flaws in technique cost him: final score 7-10.
“Donald was just on fire today,” Ted said. “I was going to have to fence a perfect match to beat him, and couldn’t quite pull it off.”
Anthony dispatched his next two opponents 10-6 and 10-7 to take the gold. Ted finished 5th and added a bronze medal in Veteran Team saber the next day.
Hangtown Saber Club specializes in saber fencing. Classes, held at Lord’s Gym in Diamond Springs, are open to boys and girls from 9 to 15. Fencing is one of the original sports included in the modern Olympics, and is often referred to as “physical chess.”
The U.S. fencing team brought home six medals from the Beijing Olympics, five in saber. One of those medalists was James Williams, a long-time student of Coach Smith.