IFSC Lead and Speed World Cups Chamonix - Report

© Lena Drapella/IFSC

IFSC commentator Matt Groom reports from the Lead and Speed World Cup events in Chamonix last weekend...

Chamonix is surely the most spectacular competition on the IFSC circuit. The walls are built on the Place du Mont Blanc and with the Aiguilles de Chamonix and western Europe's highest mountain as a backdrop. Thousands of spectators packed the streets as the Speed and Lead climbers competed; the athletes framed against the pink mountains as the sun set.

Hamish McArthur placed 7th - his best Lead World Cup placing to date.  © Lena Drapella/IFSC
Hamish McArthur placed 7th - his best Lead World Cup placing to date.
© Lena Drapella/IFSC


The Lead event had a few moments of controversy along the way and sparked a wider discussion about the route setting. Generally the opinion was that the routes were a bit soft, and we saw eleven men and five women get double Tops in the qualifications. Perhaps the woman's final route was too easy as well. It's easy to forget how hard the route setters' job is, putting in long shifts deep into the night. It's tricky to set for the current season of athletes…a job I wouldn't relish.

Jesse Grupper (USA), last week's silver medalist in Villars, was knocked out after having his score reduced by going out of bounds. The route setters were slightly limited by the triangular volume in the top centre of the wall, which they couldn't put routes directly above. It acted like a ledge and might have been dangerous, forcing them to work around the feature.

Semi-finals were exciting, and adding to the drama were lots of important judging decisions. Laura Rogora (ITA) topped out, but then had her score lowered, after it was thought she had touched a bolt. Following an appeal, her score was restored to a Top, and a finals place. Brooke Raboutou (USA) was timed out just before the top, a first for her, while Alex Megos (GER) fans were disappointed after his top was disallowed after he accidentally pulled on a draw lower down following a foot slip. He was just clipping it, with fingers inside the carabiner, when a small slip meant he momentarily weighted it. An unlucky end to his competition. 

Molly Thompson Smith (GBR) looked strong once again and came 12th, so fingers crossed for finals soon. Among the GB men. Jim Pope (GBR) did well by topping out both qualification routes and coming 25th after semis. 

Molly Thompson-Smith came close to finals in 12th.  © Lena Drapella/IFSC
Molly Thompson-Smith came close to finals in 12th.
© Lena Drapella/IFSC

The square and climbing wall become such a focal point for the town during the weekend. Even the paragliders seem to take longer turns over the heads of the spectators, cheekily getting the best seats in the house.

Finals came on Sunday evening and the crowd had been gradually filling the stadium for two hours before the comp. The women climbed first and it was quickly apparent that this would be a high-scoring round, with half of the field topping the route. Those four were positioned due to count back. So high scores, with all athetes making it onto the headwall.

Guess what….Janja Garnbret (SLO) did it again. It was gold number three for Janja as she topped the route and took victory due to countback, her 51st IFSC medal. As she said to Stasta Gejo (my co-commentator) in the winner interviews, she just found it too easy. She looked solid throughout, sticking with her more cautious approach to the routes that has worked for her this year. It was a stunning win and another classic Janja moment.

Janja Garnbret: another victory in Chamonix.   © Lena Drapella/IFSC
Janja Garnbret: another victory in Chamonix.
© Lena Drapella/IFSC

Both Brooke Raboutou (USA) and Natalia Grossman (USA) fell on the final crimp, two moves from the top and were outside of the top five. It seems like they are building on their endurance and getting stronger as the season progresses. Brooke wrote on her instagram that she has been struggling with a minor concussion after banging her head in Innsbruck, so it was a good recovery from her. 

I had a great filmed chat with Natalia about her semi-finals run, and the moment when she seemed to pause on the wall for a photo opportunity with the on-wall camera during the semi-finals. It turned out that she was just looking at the scoreboard!

Natsuki Tanii (JPN) couldn't manage a top but had a strong climb, and is always a contender for a podium, coming 5th on the night. It's hard not to think of Jessica Pilz (AUT) and not remember her bad luck in this year's Lead comps. She's had two early slips recently, but managed to put that behind her with a top to finish 4th. It just shows the mental strength she possesses and her relentlessness in pursuit of the podium.

Chaehyun Seo (KOR) has seen a consistent improvement in her overall climbing form this year. She progressed with her bouldering skills and is in her element clipping quickdraws. Always composed, she found interesting kneebars and back-heel moves and topped the route, claiming bronze.

Forget flow state, Laura Rogora (ITA) didn't need it. She fought her way through the climb, grimacing upwards as she semi-rested in the press under the first volume. Now truly recovering she pressed on and in a gritty display topped out and took silver and her first podium place of the season. 

Women's Lead podium: Chamonix 2022.  © Lena Drapella/IFSC
Women's Lead podium: Chamonix 2022.
© Lena Drapella/IFSC

There were nine men in the final due to count back and draws. Adam Ondra (CZE) - a new dad - returned to the IFSC circuit in his first Lead competition of 2022. He looked delighted to be back, seeming far more relaxed than he's been for a while. This change in him clearly translated to the wall and he looked impressive throughout the qualifiers and semi-finals. 

The men's route weaved across the left half of the wall, with long power endurance sections and a crimpy finish. 

The first male athlete out onto the stage was last week's winner Taisei Homma (JPN). Stasa Gejo and I watched as he took full advantage of a horizontal rest, composing himself before setting off again. He displayed pure try-hard faces as he climbed and got to the final move, before dropping the Top. He honestly made the route look too easy…but no one else could get close to his score, making his performance all the more impressive. 

There was an early fall shocker for Satone Yoshida (JPN) after he hesitated and was left in mid air, falling backwards on a campus move. Sean Bailey (USA) climbed in his first finals of the year and pushed Luka Potocar (SLO) out of 4th place for bronze. Sean fell on a slap to a sloper in a desperate last jump.

Sascha Lehmann (SUI) had to dyno where others stretched and fell for 8th, while Yannick Flohe (GER) demonstrated his extreme shoulder strength but couldn't make the top and was 5th.

Adam Ondra - a new dad and absent from most of the season so far - bounced back with a win in Chamonix.  © Lena Drapella/IFSC
Adam Ondra - a new dad and absent from most of the season so far - bounced back with a win in Chamonix.
© Lena Drapella/IFSC

It was great to see Hamish McArthur (GBR) and Sam Avezou (FRA) in their first finals. They were outside of the top 5 but will learn from the experience and no one would bet against them getting into the final round again in the future. 

Adam Ondra (CZE) continued his dream comeback and looked imperious throughout his climb. He bounced between moves on the power sections, and launched for the final hold…just mistiming the move and falling. The same score as Taisei, but victory because of count back to semi-finals.

Men's Lead podium: Chamonix 2022.  © Lena Drapella/IFSC
Men's Lead podium: Chamonix 2022.
© Lena Drapella/IFSC


I was joined by GB Climbing Speed athlete Matthew Fall (GBR) in the commentary box for the Speed Finals on Saturday night. It was the first time we had met and I enjoyed his obvious enthusiasm for the sport and his dedication to the craft.

There was a stacked list of the world's fastest speed climbers competing and we are seeing a real battle between the Chinese and Indonesian athletes. Team China took five out of the six available medals in Villars, while Indonesia's Kiromal Katibin (IND) holds the current speed World Record. Amazingly he beat it, again, in qualifying at 5 seconds flat. Sadly he couldn't convert that pace into a medal after a slip knocked him out of the finals in 9th place.

It was great to see Reza Alipour Shenazandifard (IRI) back in the top 16, but he fell and exploded into frustration as he was lowered. A hug with his fellow athlete after he had calmed down a bit just demonstrated the passion and emotions on the line in this discipline. 

The men's small final was between team-mates  Aspar Aspar (IND) and Veddriq Leonardo (IND). On paper it looked like Veddriq should win it, but a slip from Veddriq saw Aspar cruise to a bronze medal. 

In the main final, Erik Noya (ESP) had taken advantage of the slightest mistake from his opponents on his way to finals. There he faced Jinbao Long (CHN). It was close, with Erik keeping in touch throughout. Jinbao was too quick though and accelerated through the final section of the wall for gold, leaving Erik with the silver.

Men's Speed podium: Chamonix 2022.  © Lena Drapella/IFSC
Men's Speed podium: Chamonix 2022.
© Lena Drapella/IFSC

The race for bronze in the woman's final was incredibly close as Desak Made Rita Kusuma Dewi (IND) and Rajiah Sallsabillah (IND) matched each other move for move as they powered upwards. Desak just pulled ahead at the end and grabbed the bronze medal.

Chamonix was now in darkness, the mountains silhouetted against the moonlit sky. Lijuan Deng (CHN) was chasing her second Gold medal in a row after winning in Villars last week. She was racing Aleksandra Kalucka (POL), who was practically exploding with energy as she paced the stage. Aleksandra had a better start and was ahead on the first part of the wall, but Lijuan stuck with her and found more pace in the upper part of the wall to get to the top for fold.

Women's Speed podium: Chamonix 2022.  © Lena Drapella/IFSC
Women's Speed podium: Chamonix 2022.
© Lena Drapella/IFSC


By Sunday evening, the Place du Mont Blanc was empty again, just the memories of the night echoing around the cobbles. Thanks to Emil Abrahamsson for being with me in the Lead semis, it was great to work with him again, if you haven't already make sure you check out his YouTube channel.

See you in Briançon in two weeks.

Watch the Speed finals replay here.

Watch the Lead finals replay here.

Lead Men

1 Adam Ondra CZETOP39+
2 Taisei Homma JPN36+39+
3 Sean Bailey USATOP29+
4 Luka Potocar SLOTOP29+
5 Yannick Flohé GER36+29+
6 Sam Avezou FRA40+25+
7 Hamish McArthur GBR36+25+
8 Sascha Lehmann SUI36+20+
10 Hannes Puman SWE36+
11 Stefan Scherz AUT35+
12 Domen Skofic SLO34+
12 Dohyun Lee KOR34+
14 Paul Jenft FRA34+
15 Arsène Duval FRA34+
16 Filip Schenk ITA34+
17 Masahiro Higuchi JPN34+
18 Mathias Posch AUT34+
19 Kokoro Fujii JPN33+
20 Colin Duffy USA33+
25 Jim Pope GBR29+
31 Maximillian Milne GBRQual: 32.69
53 Alex Waterhouse GBRQual: 49.75
69 Billy Ridal GBRQual: 64.67

Lead Women

1 Janja Garnbret SLOTOPTOP
2 Laura Rogora ITATOPTOP
3 Chaehyun Seo KOR37TOP
4 Jessica Pilz AUT30TOP
5 Natsuki Tanii JPNTOP45+
6 Natalia Grossman USATOP43+
7 Brooke Raboutou USA3743+
8 Mia Krampl SLO29+37
9 Manon Hily FRA29+
10 Hélène Janicot FRA28
11 Risa Ota JPN25
12 Molly Thompson-Smith GBR25
13 Melina Costanza USA25
14 Giorgia Tesio ITA25
15 Aleksandra Totkova BUL24+
16 Vita Lukan SLO24+
17 Camille Pouget FRA24
18 Futaba Ito JPN24
19 Lucka Rakovec SLO24
61 Jennifer Wood GBRQual: 53.87
66 Thea Cameron GBRQual: 58.38
67 Joanna Neame GBRQual: 64.43

Speed Men

1 JinBao LONG CHN5.11
2 Erik Noya Cardona ESP5.49
3 Aspar Jaelolo INA5.53
4 Veddriq Leonardo INA6.59
8 Alfian Muhammad INA5.36
9 Kiromal Katibin INA5.89
10 Reza Alipourshena. IRI5.61
11 John Brosler USA7.27
12 Aripin Zaenal INAFALSE START
13 Amir Maimuratov KAZ5.54
14 Noah Bratschi USA5.64
15 Ludovico Fossali ITAFALL
16 Ryo OMASA JPN5.80
17 Rishat Khaibullin KAZQual: 5.619
18 Sebastian Lucke GERQual: 5.64
19 Euncheol Shin KORQual: 5.66
20 Michael Finn-Henry USAQual: 5.69
53 Matthew Fall GBRQual: 6.556

Speed Women

1 LiJuan DENG CHN6.55
2 Aleksandra Kalucka POL6.64
3 Desak Made Rita Kusuma Dewi INA6.82
4 Rajiah Sallsabillah INA6.90
5 GuiZhen XIE CHN7.17
6 Di Niu CHN7.06
7 Natalia Kalucka POL7.08
8 Iqomah Nurul INA7.25
9 Aurelia Sarisson FRA9.39
10 Capucine Viglione FRA8.03
12 Patrycja Chudziak POL7.52
13 Beatrice Colli ITA7.88
14 Victoire Andrier FRA7.43
15 Andrea Rojas ECU8.08
16 Xie Yufang CHNDNS
17 Mahya Darabian IRIQual: 7.86
18 Giulia Randi ITAQual: 7.87
19 Karin HAYASHI JPNQual: 7.92
20 Alivany Ver Khadijah INAQual: 7.96

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