European Championships Munich - Sport Climbing Report

© Dimitris Tosidis/IFSC

IFSC commentator Matt Groom reports from a busy ten days of competition at the European Championships in Munich, a multi-sport event covered by the BBC and international broadcasters, with a focus on the main attraction showcasing a new format: the Olympic Combined final.

Climbing was back on the biggest multi-sport stage since the Olympics and it had a point to prove: that it deserved a place on a stage this big. Put simply, it was time to step things up. The climbing arena was in the centre of Munich and seemed to draw crowds. The number of spectators only increased each day as word spread about the sport.

Janja Garnbret stole the show in Munich.  © Dimitris Tosidis/IFSC
Janja Garnbret stole the show in Munich.
© Dimitris Tosidis/IFSC

After the individual events, the eight top-ranked athletes from Boulder and Lead qualified for the Combined competition at the end of the week. This was the first time that we saw the format for the Paris 2024 Olympics and the new proposed scoring system. Remember, this is a test event, things can be tweaked and improved before a final version is confirmed. Munich allowed everyone involved, from route setters to judges and organisers and athletes, to see where changes need to be made.

Danyil Boldyrev of Ukraine jumps for joy following an emotional win in Speed.  © Dimitris Tosidis/IFSC
Danyil Boldyrev of Ukraine jumps for joy following an emotional win in Speed.
© Dimitris Tosidis/IFSC


Aleksandra Miroslaw (POL) takes the win in Speed.  © Dimitris Tosidis/IFSC
Aleksandra Miroslaw (POL) takes the win in Speed.
© Dimitris Tosidis/IFSC

The boulder competition now had two Zones worth different points and a new decimal scoring system: 3 points for one Zone, 6 for two Zones, 25 for a Top and -0.1 points for an unsuccessful attempt. Lead used more literal 'zones', where the route was split into sections, each one increasing the number of points for one move as the athletes progressed. Almost inevitably we saw longer, more complex boulders to accommodate the two scoring Zones. In Lead, the last fifteen moves to the top awarded 5 points per hold/move, the ten before that 2, and then the next five just 1. This left around thirty moves at the start that would give the athletes no score at all.

The climbers had already had a long week of competing, and although they enjoyed two days off before the Boulder and Lead, skin and general fatigue certainly affected some of them. Despite this, they were keen to put on a show and thousands of people created an incredible atmosphere inside the arena. It rivalled Chamonix or Innsbruck, in terms of pure excitement.  

Adam Ondra was ecstatic to win gold in Lead.  © Dimitris Tosidis/IFSC
Adam Ondra was ecstatic to win gold in Lead.
© Dimitris Tosidis/IFSC

I won't go through a blow by blow account of the climbing, but I wanted to share a few of my thoughts and highlights. I was discovering the intricacies of this new system for the first time, and generally I thought it worked well. We saw different graphics from normal, with the aim of simplifying the scoring, to make it more obvious who is winning at any given moment. 

The new decimal system worked especially well for the Lead. It was exciting seeing the score gradually tick higher as the climber approached the top. The graphics showed the position of the other athletes, and where the provisional (or confirmed) podium places were. For me it made the story easier to tell and let the viewer enjoy the climbing. 

Jenya Kazbekova (UKR) earned 6th place in Combined finals, despite the war at home and an illness mid-championships.  © Jan Virt/IFSC
Jenya Kazbekova (UKR) earned 6th place in Combined finals, despite the war at home and an illness mid-championships.
© Jan Virt/IFSC

I agree with some people that a flash of a boulder should perhaps be worth more points. A flash at this level is a truly impressive feat and taking only 0.1 off the score of someone climbing it second go seems a bit imbalanced.  

There were a few changes in the tactics the athletes used. We saw them going for attempts near the end of the buzzer just trying to get the higher zone, when before they would have stopped knowing there wasn't enough time to get a Top. This meant we saw more action throughout, and the longer boulders meant athletes climbed for longer during each round. Boulder seemed to be about keeping in touch with the top three, and not falling too far behind on the score board. Even a 'Lead specialist' couldn't overcome a big deficit on the Lead wall, with only a top being enough for some of them.

Molly Thompson-Smith (GBR) finished 13th in Lead and provided excellent co-commentary.  © Jan Virt/IFSC
Molly Thompson-Smith (GBR) finished 13th in Lead and provided excellent co-commentary.
© Jan Virt/IFSC

I was with the brilliant Molly Thompson Smith (GBR) in the commentary box for the women's final and we were both watching nervously as the women crushed through the first two boulders, with flashes and quick tops. There has been allot of talk about the women's climbs being too easy recently and we thought it might be the same in Munich. I've said before how hard it is to be a routesetter, and although those climbs were undercooked, on the whole I think the climbs worked. I am making a video about the life of routesetters, and the need for more women to be involved for EpicTV and Climbing Daily. Keep an eye out for that! This new format puts even more pressure on them, and could make or break a comp. 

Janja Garnbret (SLO) was simply unstoppable. She came into the Lead way out in front with an almost perfect 99.9 score from boulder. The other women pushed her hard, so she couldn't afford a single mistake. Janja is used to that kind of pressure though, and she did more than enough. Her win meant she clean-swept the week, with three golds in three separate disciplines. 

Janja Garnbret (SLO) earns her third gold of the competition in Combined, ahead of Mia Krampl (SLO) and Jessy Pilz (AUT).  © Jan Virt/IFSC
Janja Garnbret (SLO) earns her third gold of the competition in Combined, ahead of Mia Krampl (SLO) and Jessy Pilz (AUT).
© Jan Virt/IFSC

I was concerned that the start of the Lead routes could be boring, with the danger that the no-points zone could be set too easy to allow the athletes into the points. It was actually really tense, especially on the men's route, as athletes tried to keep their nerves together as they approached the first scoring opportunity.  

Jakob Schubert (AUT) is nicknamed 'Mr Championship' for a reason and once again he was on form at a highlight event. Only Adam Ondra (CZE) could beat him to gold on the Lead wall and he looked a little nervous as he climbed, trying to find any possible rest, shaking out throughout his run, and occasionally reversing to re-rest. Maybe it was a bit of tiredness creeping in, but Adam came one hold short and Jakob once again showed his quality with a win. If I was a betting man…I would certainly consider putting a cheeky early bet on him for Paris. 

Jakob Schubert: Mr Championship. No medal in Lead, but gold in Combined.  © Jan Virt/IFSC
Jakob Schubert: Mr Championship. No medal in Lead, but gold in Combined.
© Jan Virt/IFSC

The whole competition was run slickly with a pace to the event that we could learn from for IFSC World Cups. The podium was almost immediate and the climbing ran to a tight schedule. We saw the use of a split screen on the Boulder round, with two athletes sometimes climbing together. It meant there was continually action to be watched, and again kept everything within a reasonable time frame. 

There were discussions over whether an athlete might gain an unfair advantage by seeing some beta from the climber on the boulder coming next, and certainly that needs to be examined. My co-commentator Dave Barrans' (GBR) opinion was that an athlete should be fully focused on their own climb, and wouldn't be looking at the action on the next climb. I think the main danger is an athlete catching sight of a successful move as they leave the stage, but I'm not sure what a practical solution to that could be. Curtains might look strange, but perhaps having a longer wall with more space might be an option.  

Nicolai Uznik (AUT) won the individual Boulder event.  © IFSC
Nicolai Uznik (AUT) won the individual Boulder event.

The European Championships was seen by many as the highlight of the season, and for a year without a World Championships, the one every one wanted to win. The event lived up to all expectations. There is a real sense of opportunity and excitement as we look forward into the next few years. We've proved the sport is a popular and spectacular event, both live and broadcasted. We've been seen by more people than ever with a live, prime time spot, on BBC1 for some of the events. I think it's great for climbing, but now the debrief and analysis must begin. 

Tweaks and changes are inevitable and necessary, as we refine the format before the Olympic qualifying events start next year. The old combined format with Speed included wasn't the ideal solution, but necessary at the time. There's nothing holding us back now, and the sport will continue to grow. The responsibility lies on everyone involved, from athletes to camera operators, judges and commentators to keep representing our sport in the best way possible.

I'm now off to the Youth World Championships in Dallas, Texas. Although there is no livestream, we will be producing a daily show about the event, with interviews, round ups and behind-the-scenes content. Keep an eye on the IFSC YouTube channel and Social Media for that…

Watch the replays on BBC iPlayer. Most semi-final and final days received significant coverage.

Boulder Men

1 Nicolai Uznik AUT1T3z 7 92T2z 6 6
2 Sam Avezou FRA1T3z 6 72T2z 7 4
3 Adam Ondra CZE2T2z 8 72T2z 12 10
4 Mejdi Schalck FRA1T2z 3 41T3z 3 6
5 Filip Schenk ITA1T2z 3 51T2z 1 10
6 Jernej Kruder SLO1T3z 7 160T2z 0 6
7 Paul Jenft FRA1T2z 6 7
8 Christoph Schweiger GER1T2z 7 8
9 Manuel Cornu FRA0T3z 0 8
9 Jakob Schubert AUT0T3z 0 8
9 Alberto Ginés López ESP0T3z 0 8
12 Anze Peharc SLO0T3z 0 12
13 Yannick Flohé GER0T2z 0 2
14 Alex Megos GER0T2z 0 6
14 Luka Potocar SLO0T2z 0 6
14 Jim Pope GBR0T2z 0 6
17 Mickael Mawem FRA0T2z 0 7
18 Hamish McArthur GBR0T2z 0 10
19 Julien Clémence SUI0T1z 0 2
20 Sascha Lehmann SUI0T1z 0 3
25 Maximillian Milne GBRQual: 2T5z 9 11
31 Toby Roberts GBRQual: 2T4z 8 6
35 Nathan Phillips GBRQual: 2T3z 6 12

Boulder Women

1 Janja Garnbret SLO4T4z 7 72T4z 2 5
2 Hannah Meul GER3T4z 8 102T3z 3 4
3 Oriane Bertone FRA2T3z 2 32T3z 7 7
4 Chloe Caulier BEL3T4z 7 101T3z 4 7
5 Eliska Adamovska CZE2T4z 3 131T2z 4 7
6 Fanny Gibert FRA2T4z 3 100T3z 0 6
7 Ayala Kerem ISR2T3z 4 4
8 Jessica Pilz AUT2T3z 5 7
9 Camilla Moroni ITA2T3z 6 3
10 Vita Lukan SLO2T3z 8 5
11 Ievgeniia Kazbekova UKR2T2z 4 4
12 Katja Kadic SLO1T4z 4 10
13 Flavy Cohaut FRA1T3z 2 8
13 Petra Klingler SUI1T3z 2 8
15 Giulia Medici ITA0T3z 0 10
16 Alma Bestvater GER0T2z 0 2
17 Franziska Sterrer AUT0T2z 0 4
18 Staša Gejo SRB0T2z 0 7
18 Giorgia Tesio ITA0T2z 0 7
20 Lisa Klem NED0T0z 0 0
25 Holly Toothill GBRQual: 1T2z 3 6
29 Emily Phillips GBRQual: 0T4z 0 11
31 Erin Mcneice GBRQual: 0T3z 0 7
44 Molly Thompson-Smith GBRQual: 0T2z 0 5

Lead Men

1 Adam Ondra CZE43+37+
2 Luka Potocar SLO43+37+
3 Alberto Ginés López ESP43+35+
4 Jakob Schubert AUT46+34+
5 Alex Megos GER42+30+
6 Yannick Flohé GER40+29+
7 Domen Skofic SLO41+17+
8 Filip Schenk ITA4017+
9 Sascha Lehmann SUI39+
10 Martin Stranik CZE36+
11 Jorg Verhoeven NED36+
12 Hannes Van Duysen BEL36+
13 Toby Roberts GBR36
14 Michael Piccolruaz ITA35+
15 Mejdi Schalck FRA34+
16 Nimrod Marcus ISR34+
16 Nimord MARCUS ISR34+
17 Stefano Ghisolfi ITA34
18 Paul Jenft FRA34
19 Yuval Shemla ISR34
20 Nicolas Collin BEL32+
24 Jim Pope GBR21
26 Hamish McArthur GBRDNS
27 Maximillian Milne GBRQual: 23.98

Lead Women

1 Janja Garnbret SLO4550+
2 Jessica Pilz AUT27+45+
3 Manon Hily FRA3541+
4 Mia Krampl SLO34+40+
5 Aleksandra Totkova BUL26+40+
6 Eliska Adamovska CZE24+37+
7 Hannah Meul GER2737
8 Ievgeniia Kazbekova UKR25+18+
9 Camilla Moroni ITA24+
10 Sandra Lettner AUT24+
11 Hélène Janicot FRA24
12 Vita Lukan SLO24
13 Molly Thompson-Smith GBR24
14 Lynn van der Meer NED20
15 Sara Copar SLO19+
16 Chloe Caulier BEL19+
17 Mattea Pötzi AUT19+
18 Michaela Smetanova CZE19
19 Noa Shiran ISR18+
20 Julia Fiser AUT18+
36 Erin Mcneice GBRQual: 31.82
41 Jennifer Wood GBRQual: 39.5
42 Thea Cameron GBRQual: 39.95
44 Joanna Neame GBRQual: 43.25

Speed Men

1 Danyil Boldyrev UKR5.58
2 Marcin Dzienski POL6.24
3 Guillaume Moro FRA5.55
4 Erik Noya Cardona ESP5.65
5 Bassa Mawem FRA5.67
6 Gian Luca Zodda ITAFALL
7 Alessandro Boulos ITA5.75
8 Alessandro Cingari ITA5.85
9 Yaroslav Tkach UKRFALL
10 Sebastian Lucke GER9.17
11 Lukas Knapp AUTFALL
12 Matteo Zurloni ITA6.20
13 Kostiantyn Pavlenko UKR5.90
14 Leander Carmanns GER6.82
15 Lawrence Bogeschdorfer AUT6.16
16 Jan Kriz CZE6.41
17 Alejandro Rivas Domínguez ESPQual: 6.38
18 Matthew Fall GBRQual: 6.58
19 Petr Burian CZEQual: 6.65
20 Dorian Zedler GERQual: 6.66

Speed Women

1 Aleksandra Mirosław POL6.92
2 Aleksandra Kalucka POL7.08
3 Natalia Kalucka POL7.19
4 Patrycja Chudziak POL7.45
5 Anna Brozek POL7.76
6 Aurelia Sarisson FRA7.89
7 Nuria Brockfeld GER10.56
8 Alina Shchyharieva UKR8.31
9 Beatrice Colli ITA8.68
10 Capucine Viglione FRA10.86
11 Sofia Bellesini ITA7.79
12 Giulia Randi ITA7.72
13 Julia Koch GER9.91
14 Erica Piscopo ITA8.84
15 Anna Maria Apel GER8.42
15 Anna APEL GER8.42
16 Oksana Burova UKR9.70
17 Carla Martínez Vidal ESPQual: 11.40
18 María Laborda Sagaste ESPQual: 12.11

Combined Men

1 Jakob Schubert AUT
2 Adam Ondra CZE
3 Alberto Ginés López ESP
4 Filip Schenk ITA
5 Luka Potocar SLO
6 Sam Avezou FRA
7 Mejdi Schalck FRA
8 Nicolai Uznik AUT

Combined Women

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