Garnbret and Anraku win IFSC Lead World Cup Koper 2023

© Jan Virt/IFSC

The penultimate round of the IFSC Lead World Cup returned to Koper, Slovenia on the Adriatic coast last weekend. This was the second World Cup to be held at the new venue and once again it didn't disappoint, with great route setting, a huge crowd and spectacular performances from a strong field of athletes. Janja Garnbret (SLO) won on home turf after a 2nd place in Koper last year, while rising Japanese star Sorato Anraku took his second win of the season.

Sorato Anraku wins his second Lead World Cup of the season and seals the overall trophy.  © Jan Virt/IFSC
Sorato Anraku wins his second Lead World Cup of the season and seals the overall trophy.
© Jan Virt/IFSC

Although the field was slightly smaller following the marathon IFSC World Championships in Bern, it was nonetheless stacked with regular finalists and medallists. The semi-finals produced two classic line-ups, with Japan and Slovenia both fielding four athletes in the finals. Olympic Champions Janja Garnbret (SLO) and Alberto Ginés-López (ESP) were both in a World Cup final for only the second time since Tokyo 2020. GB Climbing's Molly Thompson-Smith finished 13th after a strong performance on a difficult semi-final route.

Toby Roberts (GBR) qualified in second place for the final behind Sorato Anraku (JPN), who won the last World Cup in Briançon. In the final, Olympic champion Ginés-López set an early highpoint of 23. On a difficult route, Luka Potocar (SLO), Sam Avezou (FRA), Alex Megos (GER) and Yannick Flohé (GER) were all clustered in ascending order between holds 27 and 31+. Jesse Grupper (USA) was on fine form and almost doubled the scores, falling at 42+ and setting a challenge for Roberts and Anraku to beat. Roberts appeared to misread a move just below the headwall and got stuck in an awkward position without having clipped at 21+. Anraku was unfazed throughout the route and calmly topped, securing the overall Lead World Cup title and doubling his Lead gold medal tally after his first win this summer. After narrowly missing out on an Olympic spot in Bern in 4th place, Anraku reminded us that he's a firm favourite for the Asia continental qualifier event in November.

Men's podium Koper 2023.  © Jan Virt/IFSC
Men's podium Koper 2023.
© Jan Virt/IFSC

Anraku told the IFSC:

"I was so nervous before my climb, but I tried to put that to the back of my mind and just climb well. After my first Lead gold in Briancon I wanted to carry that on, and I have been training really hard. I wanted another gold in Koper and I have it now so I'm happy."

The women's final was hotly anticipated given the 'rivalry' between local hero Janja Garnbret (SLO) and Ai Mori (JPN), who unexpectedly beat Garnbret for the first time on home turf in Koper last year. Nonoha Kume (JPN) kicked things off with a promising 31+ on what appeared to be a difficult, unsettling route with jumps and campus moves. Mia Krampl (SLO) had a heartbreaking low fall after a foot slip on 11+, made worse by its occurrence in front of a lively home crowd.

Laura Rogora (ITA) and Natsuki Tanii (JPN) were stopped by a powerful move at 31+. Briançon World Cup winner Vita Lukan (SLO) used her winner's confidence and home crowd support to her advantage; she looked confident on the route - despite losing her chalkbag just below halfway up - and the powerful style clearly played to her strengths. Lukan's new highpoint of 40+ put pressure on Chaehyun Seo (KOR), who fell at 38+ on a burly roof section, securing the Slovenian a podium place. Ai Mori had her fingertips on the penultimate hold, just before a dyno to the top.

Janja Garnbret sought 'revenge' in Koper.  © Jan Virt/IFSC
Janja Garnbret sought 'revenge' in Koper.
© Jan Virt/IFSC

All eyes turned to Garnbret as she walked out to a raucous crowd. She climbed quickly and seemed to enjoy the high-risk moves. As soon as she surpassed Mori's highpoint and set up for the jump, a top seemed inevitable. With a confident leap to the finishing hold, the Slovenian took her long-awaited first home win at this popular new venue on the circuit. Adoring Janja fans screamed, waved signs and wore t-shirts with her image on the front in support. Garnbret has not lost a Lead World Cup this year, and returning to the top from a 'disappointing' second place in the Lead World Championships in Bern and securing the overall World Cup win in Koper must have been satisfying. Just outside the town, there is an Allianz billboard featuring Garnbret's image—a measure of her stardom in Slovenia.

Women's podium Koper 2023.  © Jan Virt/IFSC
Women's podium Koper 2023.
© Jan Virt/IFSC

Garnbret told the IFSC:

"Finally I got my revenge here in Koper. I enjoyed it so much. From qualis to semis to finals, I don't know if I have ever been as relaxed as I have been in this competition. I enjoyed climbing in front of a home crowd, with the support I really enjoyed, I'm so glad I finally got my first gold in Koper.

"I have to say thank you to all the kids for all the screaming, that really gave me extra motivation. I hope they enjoyed our show. I wish they will all train hard and join us one day on the stage here in Koper."

The final round takes place in Wujiang, China from 22-24 September. 

Lead Men

2 Jesse Grupper USA32+42+
3 Alberto Ginés López ESP25+23
4 Toby Roberts GBR37+21+
5 Alex Megos GER29+21+
6 Yannick Flohé GER31+21
7 Sam Avezou FRA29+20+
8 Luka Potocar SLO2718+
9 Yoshiyuki Ogata JPN21+
10 Neo SUZUKI JPN21+
11 Masahiro Higuchi JPN21
12 Sascha Lehmann SUI20+
13 Taisei Homma JPN20+
13 Satone YOSHIDA JPN20+
15 Shion OMATA JPN20+
16 Jonas Utelli SUI20
17 Meichi Narasaki JPN19+
18 Simon Lorenzi BEL19+
19 Stefano Ghisolfi ITA19
20 Arsène Duval FRA17+
28 Jim Pope GBRQual: 27.4
43 Maximillian Milne GBRQual: 39.26

Lead Women

1 Janja Garnbret SLO35+TOP
2 Ai Mori JPN35+44+
3 Vita Lukan SLO3340+
4 Chaehyun Seo KOR3438+
5 Natsuki Tanii JPN3433+
6 Laura Rogora ITA31+33+
7 Nonoha KUME JPN31+31+
8 Mia Krampl SLO31+11+
9 Futaba Ito JPN31+
10 Sara Copar SLO31+
11 Jessica Pilz AUT30+
13 Molly Thompson-Smith GBR29
14 Hannah Meul GER29
15 Lynn van der Meer NED28+
16 Manon Hily FRA28+
17 Oriane Bertone FRA28+
18 Hélène Janicot FRA27+
19 Lucka Rakovec SLO27
20 Jain Kim KOR26+

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