Following the IFSC Paraclimbing World Championships last week (full report coming soon), the Speed and Boulder Championships crowned new World Champions this weekend in the same impressive arena where the European Championship Olympic qualification event was held last November. A number of Olympians understandably chose to sit out on yet another marathon event, but some rising stars and legends of the game shone in their absence.
In Speed, 19-year old Natalia Kalucka (POL) knocked two Tokyo Speed climbers and World (and Olympic) Record-holders off the top step. Kalucka even raced against her twin sister, Aleksandra in the first round. In the final two races, Aleksandra Miroslaw (POL) fell and Iuliia Kaplina (CFR) slipped, giving Kalucka the win - who also set a new PB of 7.07 seconds - ahead of Kaplina and Miroslaw in 2nd and 3rd place respectively. Miroslaw set the fastest time of the competition in qualification, with a run of 6.99 seconds.
Danyil Boldyrev (UKR) won his second World title and was flanked by two newcomers to the IFSC World Cup podium: Erik Noya Cardona (ESP) and Noah Bratschi (USA). Marcin Dzienski (POL) set the fastest time of the competition with a time of 5.71 seconds in qualifiers, but finished in 10th place.
In the absence of reigning Boulder World Champion and Olympic gold medallist Janja Garnbret, many fans looked to Natalia Grossman to fill her - now golden - shoes. That said, Grossman is capable of beating Garnbret, as she did in Salt Lake City, so it's unfair to lean too heavily on Garnbret's absence. Olympians Miho Nonaka (JPN) and Petra Klingler (2016 Boulder World Champion) were also missing from the line-up, as well as - of course - recently retired Akiyo Noguchi (JPN), who had travelled to Moscow nonetheless to support her teammates and take photographs at the event.
Grossman and teammate Brooke Raboutou topped their respective qualification rounds and Grossman continued her effortless domination in the semis and finals by topping every boulder. In the final, despite the round being a high-top circuit, coming out last didn't seem to faze Grossman. She has a knack for knowing when to slow down on moves and when to ramp up her speed — in this age of dynamic movement, it's easy to assume that every move must be a sensational dyno. Equally, her compatriot Brooke Raboutou (USA) showed excellent trickery in finding a toe-hook to avoid a powerful triple dyno on W1.
Credit must be given to the route setting team, who created boulders with multiple methods almost across the board. The beta on display was stunning at times: Elena Krasovskaia (CFR) used an extremely high foot position far above her head to secure a top on W2, while Brooke Raboutou dramatically fell with both hands onto the finishing hold. On some boulders, there were four or more methods demonstrated by athletes on individual moves, showing the level of creativity that the setters put into these climbs, and that the athletes had to figure out for themselves.
Camilla Moroni (ITA) - a regular semi-finalist and winner of the Tout à Blocs International Open - was in the form of her life in the final and entertained the crowd with her enthusiastic power screams and shouts of 'Si!' (Yes!') when she topped. She matched Grossman's score of 4 Tops and 4 Zones, but required more attempts. Staša Gejo (SRB) impressed with her signature gutsy style, earning 2 Tops and 4 Zones to take 3rd place. 'With me it's never a smooth and chill competition. It's always a crazy roller coaster. Everyone pulls their hair out. Well, I do too 😂' Gejo wrote on Instagram.
Considering that her focus has largely been on Tokyo this year and all three disciplines, Raboutou's 5th place deserves more praise than it might otherwise bring her. Grossman was speechless in her post-event interview, clearly overwhelmed by the year she's had: 9 international medals and possibly two World titles (more on this later).
GB Climbing's Holly Toothill finished just outside of semis in 21st - a strong result in her first senior World Championships.
In the men's, some big names such as Adam Ondra (CZE) and Nathaniel Coleman (USA) opted not to compete. GB Climbing's Billy Ridal and Nathan Phillips qualified for semis and finished 14th and 17th respectively. Hamish McArthur - our freshly crowned double World Youth Champion - narrowly missed out on finals in 7th place in his first ever senior Boulder event. Today, Hamish qualified in 2nd place in Lead ahead of Jakob Schubert – be sure to keep an eye on what this 19-year-old from Yorkshire might do next this week and in the future...
Tomoa Narasaki (JPN) was looking for vengeance after a 'disappointing' (his own descriptor) Tokyo Olympics, where he finished 4th. His teammate Kokoro Fujii (JPN) led the qualifier round in Moscow alongside Yannick Flohé (GER), while Narasaki topped the semi-final round.
Once again, the route setters put on a fantastic show in the final with a range of styles and possible sequences. A flash Top of M1 immediately put Fujii head and shoulders above the rest of the athletes, none of whom managed to reach even a Zone. Manu Cornu (FRA) flashed M2 and put some pressure on the Japanese, who both topped in two attempts. Another flash by Fujii on M3 made him odds-on favourite for the win, as he would only need to reach the Zone on M4 to win. Narasaki topped in three attempts and looked set for a medal. M4 was a fierce compression boulder with a blocked Zone and a heartbreaker finish. Four climbers topped, but only Narasaki and Manu Cornu could flash it, knocking crowd favourite Alexey Rubtsov off the podium.
Fujii smoothly topped on his second attempt to secure a well-deserved and convincing win. Fujii became a father last year — is he the first Dad to become an IFSC World Champion? Equally impressive were Narasaki and Rubtsov's performances, given that they had had to focus on three disciplines in the run-up to the Olympics, while most of the field was able to concentrate on Boulder alone.
Unfortunately, a brilliant weekend was let down somewhat by a reappearance of the same inappropriate shot in the livestream featuring the same female athlete, which occurred previously in Innsbruck this summer. The IFSC removed and reuploaded an edited livestream replay. A statement read: "The IFSC condemns the objectification of the human body and will take further action in order for it to stop, and to protect the athletes.
IFSC President Marco Scolaris added: "How many times will things have to be done wrong, before we learn how to do them right?"
The situation was handled with great professionalism in real-time by IFSC commentator Matt Groom and was later condemned by co-commentator Hannah Meul (GER) at the end of the stream. For athletes, self-confidence is a huge factor in competition. If they feel that their bodies are being inappropriately presented on-screen, it could unfairly affect their performance as well as their mental health. Here's hoping the IFSC can put in place a set of guidelines and a photography and filming policy in line with those for other sports.
Back to Grossman's potential double World title, the IFSC announced that the Seoul Speed and Boulder World Cup rounds have been cancelled, bringing the season to a premature end. There has been no mention yet of the consequences to the overall competition and whether the number of rounds is sufficient to result in an overall ranking, but this could mean that Grossman will take the overall IFSC Boulder World Cup win, with Garnbret in 2nd and Oriane Bertone (FRA) in 3rd. For men's Boulder, the overall winners could be Yoshiyuki Ogata (JPN) in first, followed by Kokoro Fujii (JPN) and Adam Ondra (CZE). In Speed, Veddriq Leonardo (INA) and Emma Hunt (USA) would win the overall, followed by Kiromal Katibin (INA) and Marcin Dzienski (POL), and Patrycja Chudziak (POL) and Aleksandra Miroslaw (POL).
The Moscow event isn't over just yet, though - Lead qualification is currently underway. Stay tuned for a Lead report later this week...
|2||Erik Noya Cardona||ESP||5.95|
|11||Gian Luca Zodda||ITA||5.849|
|17||Kostiantyn Pavlenko||UKR||Qual: 5.96|
|18||Ludovico Fossali||ITA||Qual: 5.98|
|19||Carlos Granja||ECU||Qual: 5.99|
|20||Milad Alipour Shenazandifar||IRI||Qual: 6.04|
|17||Alexandra Elmer||AUT||Qual: 8.33|
|18||Tamara Kuznetsova||KAZ||Qual: 8.41|
|19||Polina Kulagina||RUS||Qual: 8.58|
|20||Tetiana Kolkotina||UKR||Qual: 8.59|
|1||Kokoro Fujii||JPN||2T4z 3 12||4T4z 6 6|
|2||Tomoa Narasaki||JPN||3T3z 7 5||3T3z 6 6|
|3||Manuel Cornu||FRA||3T3z 8 5||2T3z 2 3|
|4||Aleksei Rubtsov||RUS||2T3z 9 6||2T3z 7 5|
|5||Nimrod Marcus||ISR||2T3z 3 5||0T2z 0 9|
|6||Anze Peharc||SLO||2T3z 7 7||0T2z 0 10|
|7||Hamish McArthur||GBR||2T3z 12 11|
|8||Yoshiyuki Ogata||JPN||1T4z 1 14|
|9||Zan Sudar||SLO||1T4z 2 14|
|10||Tomoaki Takata||JPN||1T4z 4 14|
|11||Mickael Mawem||FRA||1T3z 2 6|
|12||Minyoung Lee||KOR||1T3z 4 9|
|13||Mejdi Schalck||FRA||1T3z 4 14|
|14||Billy Ridal||GBR||1T2z 4 5|
|15||Yannick Flohé||GER||0T4z 0 14|
|16||Gregor Vezonik||SLO||0T3z 0 4|
|17||Mathieu Ternant||FRA||0T3z 0 8|
|18||Michael Piccolruaz||ITA||0T2z 0 3|
|18||Nathan Phillips||GBR||0T2z 0 3|
|18||Sascha Lehmann||SUI||0T2z 0 3|
|1||Natalia Grossman||USA||4T4z 8 8||4T4z 7 7|
|2||Camilla Moroni||ITA||4T4z 15 13||4T4z 13 11|
|3||Stasa Gejo||SRB||2T4z 4 9||2T4z 5 7|
|4||Elena Krasovskaia||RUS||3T4z 8 9||2T3z 2 4|
|5||Brooke Raboutou||USA||3T3z 11 11||2T3z 3 4|
|6||Andrea Kümin||SUI||3T3z 11 9||1T3z 3 3|
|7||Fanny Gibert||FRA||2T4z 7 16|
|8||Chloe Caulier||BEL||2T3z 6 13|
|9||Viktoriia Meshkova||RUS||2T3z 6 14|
|10||Lucka Rakovec||SLO||2T2z 5 5|
|11||Ayala Kerem||ISR||2T2z 7 6|
|12||Sofya Yokoyama||SUI||1T3z 2 11|
|13||Futaba Ito||JPN||1T2z 1 6|
|14||Mao Nakamura||JPN||1T2z 1 15|
|15||Vita Lukan||SLO||1T2z 3 8|
|16||Natsuki Tanii||JPN||1T1z 1 1|
|17||Kylie Cullen||USA||0T3z 0 10|
|18||Elnaz Rekabi||IRI||0T2z 0 5|
|19||Johanna Färber||AUT||0T2z 0 8|
|20||Franziska Sterrer||AUT||0T2z 0 13|