The 2017 IFSC World Youth Championships took place in Innsbruck, Austria last weekend, where an unprecedented number of young athletes from around the globe tested their skills in the newly-built Kletterzentrum Innsbruck. Ahletes who achieved the top combined scores across the three disciplines in the World Youth Championships also had the opportunity to trial an Olympic 'combined' format final following the main event. Although there were no British medals, three climbers - Hamish McArthur, Hannah Slaney and William Bosi - made finals in the Lead event.
The categories consisted of three age groups - Youth B, Youth A and Junior - in the three disciplines of Lead, Boulder and Speed. Although not every athlete competed in all three disciplines, the prospect of becoming an Olympian in Tokyo 2020 encouraged increased interest in the Speed event and the Combined competition in general. In Youth B and Junior categories, the 6 climbers with the lowest score (a multiple of their rankings in each discipline) from their positions in Lead, Boulder and Speed in each age group went on to compete in the one-day Olympic Combined final in Speed, Boulder and Lead over the weekend. In the Youth A category, the top 20 athletes in the Combined rankings made the Olympic style final, to serve as qualifiers for the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires next year.
Team GB were well represented across the board, with standout performances from 18 year old William Bosi, who placed 4th in the Male Junior Combined event, with a 2nd place in the Combined Lead final in his last competition at junior level. 17 year old Hannah Slaney placed 6th in the Female Junior Lead final, and 15 year old Hamish McArthur also placed 6th in Lead in what was his first World Youth Championship event.
In the bouldering competition, Team GB achieved some good results just outside of the top 6 cut-offs for finals: Aidan Roberts 8th (MJ), Hannah Slaney 10th (FJ), Emily Phillips 13th (FYB), Hamish McArthur 14th (MYB) and Kieran Forrest 14th (MYA).
In the Speed event, William Bosi set a new British record of 8.45 seconds on the homologated 15 metre speed route.
Manager of the GB Junior Lead Team, Ian Dunn told UKC:
'This was the biggest and longest WYC ever, including all three disciplines and the Combined too. We also had our biggest ever GB Team out there with 25 athletes. We saw some outstanding climbing from Hamish McArthur, Emily Phillips, William Bosi and Hannah Slaney all giving their best against the best in the world. It's always a privilege to work with these guys and experience the atmosphere of a World Championship alongside them.'
Amongst the winners were some big names in the world of rock and competition climbing - despite their young age. 16 year old US prodigy Ashima Shiraishi won Gold in Lead and Boulder in the Youth A Female category, and took Silver in the Combined final behind Austria's Sandra Lettner. This year's WYC success marked the 'triple double' for Ashima, since she has won Gold in Boulder and Lead every year since her first year of Youth B in 2015.
The Japanese team were the dominant country in the event; their sights clearly set on Tokyo 2020, with particularly strong Youth B categories in which two or more Japanese climbers on the podium was a common sight. Meichi Narasaki - younger brother of IFSC Boulder World Cup winner Tomoa - was the one to beat in the Male Junior category and also won Gold in the Combined event. In the Female Junior category, 19 year old US climber Claire Buhrfeind won Gold in both Boulder and Lead, before having a tough day in the Combined final and finishing 6th overall. Japan won 24 medals in total, ahead of the USA, who returned home with 14 medals.