IFSC World Cup Villars - Report

© Lena Drapella/IFSC

Villars-sur-Ollon is a strange little chocolate box Swiss town. It's nestled high above the Valley floor…on the way to nowhere really, and yet every year the world's best climbers come to play. They're here to climb on the purpose built Speed and Lead walls, and take in a bit of fresh mountain air while they're doing so.

The popular Villars venue.  © Dimitris Tosidis/IFSC
The popular Villars venue.
© Dimitris Tosidis/IFSC

I'm sure you remember in 2021 when the mist was so thick that the finals climbers almost disappeared into the gloom — the weather can be a bit dodgy. This weekend was largely clear, with sunshine bathing the area, although the wall was mercifully fairly sheltered.


Speed climbers love it here; it's seen as a real jewel in the Speed climbing circuit and one they all want to win. The wall is World Record standard, and apparently the altitude and texture of it make it a good one to break records on.

We saw two World Records go down in the qualifying as Kiromal Katibin (IND) broke his own record…and then unbelievably broke it again on his second run. For the men, the new time to beat is 5.04 seconds and we come ever closer to that magic sub-five-second time. 

The crowd were hyped to watch what could potentially be more World Records being beaten and this was an exciting tension to the finals. Every time I watch Speed climbing I'm reminded of the small margins the athletes have to work with. One slip, false start or hesitation and their finals is over. It takes a lot of training and some luck to operate at those levels consistently.

Di Niu of China, Lijuan Deng of China, Made Rita Kusuma Dewi Desak of Indonesia: women's Speed podium.  © Lena Drapella/IFSC
Di Niu of China, Lijuan Deng of China, Made Rita Kusuma Dewi Desak of Indonesia: women's Speed podium.
© Lena Drapella/IFSC

In the men's small final we saw Jinbao Long (CHN) race Veddriq Leonardo. A big slip from Veddriq saw Jinbao take the bronze. In the finals Peng Wu (CHN) faced his teammate Jinguo Long (CHN). It was close, both athletes neck and neck, as they raced upwards. It was won in the air, with Jinguo's fingertips just hitting the finish pad first. 

The women's small final saw the return of Anna Brozek (POL) and she was against Desak Made (IND). Anna was climbing well, taking full advantage of any mistakes by her opponents up until that point. However, she was beaten to bronze by Desak who kept ahead all the way in their podium race.

The Women's Final was between Lijuan Deng (CHN) and Di Nui (CHN). Di had a low sip which allowed Lijuan to cruise to victory and take gold. Team China are making their intentions clear in Speed with five out of the six medals going to them. They have been missing for a while due to COVID restrictions, and now are a force to be reckoned with. Thanks to Maria Laborda (ESP) for helping me in the commentary box, keep an eye out for her in future competitions too…

Di Niu of China, Lijuan Deng of China, Made Rita Kusuma Dewi Desak of Indonesia: women's Speed podium.  © Lena Drapella/IFSC
Di Niu of China, Lijuan Deng of China, Made Rita Kusuma Dewi Desak of Indonesia: women's Speed podium.
© Lena Drapella/IFSC


A new day, a new discipline and Lead qualifications, then semi finals took place. There are still a few athletes struggling with the transition into the Lead season, with no break time between the disciplines. Those who have competed at bouldering all year are feeling under-trained in endurance. 

Brooke Raboutou (USA) was clearly in strong form, the only woman to top two qualification routes, although all of the top five women finished at least one route. Team GB had a tricky competition with all of their athletes apart from Molly Thompson Smith (GBR) failing to make the semi-finals cut in men and woman's qualification. The men's routes only saw two tops as Ao Yurikusa (JPN) and Colin Duffy (USA) demonstrated their form.

Brooke Raboutou (USA) topped the leaderboard in qualifiers.  © Lena Drapella/IFSC
Brooke Raboutou (USA) topped the leaderboard in qualifiers.
© Lena Drapella/IFSC

I always think the cut from semis to finals is a brutal one and we watched some big names in both the men and women's rounds missing out. It was a shame not to see Alex Megos (GER) get through, as her always enjoy Villars, and Stefan Scherz was only just pushed out of a finals place due to count back. Molly Thomspon Smith (GBR) was the last British climber knocked out, but in a very respectable 13th place.

I witnessed my first ever IFSC yellow card after Jesse Grupper (USA) was given one for continuing climbing after being timed out. Jesse is having an amazing season so far. Although fairly unknown coming into Innsbruck, he made finals and once again got through in Villars…in second place, impressive stuff.

Men's Final

The Lead final saw a big crowd in the arena, and there were lots of autograph hunters on the lookout for pros. This is occurring more and more at World Cups and I think it's great that athletes are getting the attention. 

The men's route had a fairly straightforward set of moves, but some really nasty crimpy sections separating more dynamic sequences. There was also an awkward dyno to start with, with a boulder mat especially placed in case of early falls. Mejdi Schalck (FRA) was climbing in his first lead final and his 7th place finish is therefore a PB. Yoshiyuki Ogata (JPN) had told me he was aiming to peak in his Lead climbing fitness for the World Cup in Slovenia at the end of the year, so it was impressive to see him exceed that goal and get 6th place here. 

Taisei Homma of Japan: a new IFSC winner.  © Lena Drapella/IFSC
Taisei Homma of Japan: a new IFSC winner.
© Lena Drapella/IFSC

The podium finishers all made it to the headwall and Colin Duffy (USA) was looking strong before a blind foot match caused him to slip. It was his second Lead medal in a row as he finished with Bronze. His team mate Jesse Grupper (USA) continued to beat more experienced competitors and he grimaced his way through the top moves, getting just a + ahead of Colin for Silver. 

Team Japan added another name to their list of winners in their squad as Taisei Homma (JPN) took his first gold dedal. He looked shaky to start with, seemingly very nervous on the first half of the route. He relaxed into it though and set the high point early on at 36+…a score that was not to be beaten.

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

Women's Final

The women's route had two standout features. A mantle into a press rest down low, followed by a big dyno out to the right. Everyone managed the mantle move, some a bit smoother than others, but it was the dyno that caused problems. 

We saw big commitment…and big falls. Chaehyun Seo (KOR) in particular took a wild spinning ride to the ground. Questions were asked after the comp about whether the move was too dangerous. We certainly saw a few athletes with injuries after failing on it.

Chaehyun Seo (KOR) attempts the wild sideways dyno.  © Lena Drapella/IFSC
Chaehyun Seo (KOR) attempts the wild sideways dyno.
© Lena Drapella/IFSC

Natalia Grossman (USA) was the first to make it onto the crimpy section after the overhang. I think she's still getting used to longer climbs after her dominant Boulder season. Her bronze in Villars was an indication of her improving form. 

Natalia was beaten by Brooke Raboutou (USA) who's looking very comfortable on a Lead wall. She flew through the bottom dyno and was close to topping. She stood in a bolt hole on the last volume, not quite having the stretch to static the move.

Janja Garnbret wins her 50th IFSC medal.  © Lena Drapella/IFSC
Janja Garnbret wins her 50th IFSC medal.
© Lena Drapella/IFSC

After Janja Garnbret's (SLO) win in Innsbruck there was a fair amount of grumbling that she only won because she was more rested than the other woman. Well, in Villars, she showed the world, once again, that she is the one to beat this year. 

She got to the same final moves as Brooke, but completed a daring running skip across the volume to latch the penultimate hold. With a coordinated pop to the top, Janja completed the climb to win another gold and her 50th medal at an IFSC event.

It feels like the Lead season is really underway now and most of the athletes are staying around Lake Geneva for a few days of training and rest. I may be biased as it's my home town, but Chamonix is next…and it's always brilliant. Tune in to watch incredible moves, with a mountain sunset as a back drop.

Thanks to Alex Waterhouse and Kyra Condie for your expert analysis in the commentary box. I'm incredibly lucky this year to have such good co-commentators, with everyone bringing something unique to the mic. See you in Chamonix! 

Lead Men

1 Taisei Homma JPN30+36+
2 Jesse Grupper USA3634+
3 Colin Duffy USA3434
4 Yannick Flohé GER31+33
5 Satone YOSHIDA JPN33+27+
6 Yoshiyuki Ogata JPN3126+
7 Mejdi Schalck FRA30+19+
9 Stefan Scherz AUT30+
10 Paul Jenft FRA30
11 Luka Potocar SLO29+
12 Domen Skofic SLO29+
13 Dohyun Lee KOR29+
14 Nicolas Collin BEL29+
15 Sean Bailey USA26+
16 Diego Fourbet FRA26+
17 Kokoro Fujii JPN26
18 Alex Megos GER21
19 Sascha Lehmann SUI21
20 Masahiro Higuchi JPN21
29 Jim Pope GBRQual: 31.29
29 Hamish McArthur GBRQual: 31.29
32 Maximillian Milne GBRQual: 32.33
44 Alex Waterhouse GBRQual: 41.12
57 Billy Ridal GBRQual: 51.37

Lead Women

1 Janja Garnbret SLOTOPTOP
2 Brooke Raboutou USA3537+
3 Natalia Grossman USA29+35+
4 Laura Rogora ITA31+31+
5 Manon Hily FRA29+28+
6 Chaehyun Seo KOR35+17+
7 Ryu NAKAGAWA JPN33+17+
8 Natsuki Tanii JPN3117+
9 Mia Krampl SLO29+
10 Mei Kotake JPN29+
11 Hélène Janicot FRA29
12 Sara Copar SLO27+
13 Molly Thompson-Smith GBR25+
14 Aleksandra Totkova BUL25
15 Salomé Romain FRA24
16 Julia Chanourdie FRA22
17 Vita Lukan SLO21+
18 Lucka Rakovec SLO19
19 Liv Egli SUI18+
20 Mattea Pötzi AUT18+
57 Jennifer Wood GBRQual: 53.75
61 Thea Cameron GBRQual: 56.89

Speed Men

1 JianGuo LONG CHN5.23
3 JinBao LONG CHN5.16
4 Veddriq Leonardo INAFALL
5 Kiromal Katibin INAFALL
7 John Brosler USA5.31
8 Guillaume Moro FRA6.13
9 Reza Alipourshena. IRIFALSE START
10 Alfian Muhammad INA6.39
12 Ludovico Fossali ITAFALSE START
13 Erik Noya Cardona ESP5.66
14 Marcin Dzienski POL5.59
15 Aripin Zaenal INA5.66
16 Samuel Watson USAFALSE START
17 Aspar Jaelolo INAQual: 5.59
18 Ryo OMASA JPNQual: 5.61
19 Euncheol Shin KORQual: 5.63
20 Gian Luca Zodda ITAQual: 5.704
63 Matthew Fall GBRQual: 7.50
65 Rafe Stokes GBRQual: 7.93

Speed Women

1 LiJuan DENG CHN6.87
2 Di Niu CHN8.22
3 Desak Made Rita Kusuma Dewi INA7.06
4 Anna Brozek POL7.39
5 Rajiah Sallsabillah INA8.43
6 Emma Hunt USA9.17
7 Natalia Kalucka POL8.30
8 Capucine Viglione FRA8.37
9 Aleksandra Kalucka POL8.03
10 Aurelia Sarisson FRAFALL
12 Patrycja Chudziak POL7.62
13 Iqomah Nurul INA7.73
14 Andrea Rojas ECU7.95
15 Franziska Ritter GER7.77
16 Beatrice Colli ITA7.60
17 Leslie Adriana Romero Pérez ESPQual: 7.80
18 Alivany Ver Khadijah INAQual: 7.83
19 Giulia Randi ITAQual: 7.85
20 Nuria Brockfeld GERQual: 7.92

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5 Jul

I wasn't sure about the dyno on the women's route. I understand televised sport is part entertainment, but failing on that outwards sideways dyno without the bolt above clipped looked particularly nasty. (from memory - only one of the women had the reach to clip the bolt above)

5 Jul

Why did Manon Hily climb again in the final?

5 Jul

I understand it was because she got short roped on the dyno causing her to fall

5 Jul

That seems the most likely scenario but doesn't explain why her first try score was for lower than the dyno...

7 Jul

Hmmm i don’t know why that would be, she definitely fell the first time whilst doing the dyno

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