IFSC Boulder World Cup Salt Lake City 2024 - Report

© IFSC/Slobodan Miskovic

After the IFSC World Cup season kicked off at the new location of Keqiao last month, the second comp of the season saw the athletes returning to a familiar venue, the home of US competition climbing - Salt Lake City.

Oriane Bertone competes at the Salt Lake City World Cup  © IFSC/Slobodan Miskovic
Oriane Bertone competes at the Salt Lake City World Cup
© IFSC/Slobodan Miskovic

With the Olympic Qualifying Series just eight days away, the Salt Lake City World Cup didn't have a full-strength start-list, as some of the athletes aiming to secure Olympic Qualification elected to skip the competition in order to avoid fatigue, and reduce travel time and jet lag.

Nonetheless, Salt Lake provided some wonderfully set boulders, gave us a sense of which of the women might be able to challenge Janja in Paris, and provided a glimpse at the battle that may well decide the order of the men's Olympic medals.

After a bumper first event for the GB squad in Keqiao - with four Brits in the semis, and two in the finals - to better that tally in Salt Lake was going to be a big ask, especially with Max Milne, Erin McNiece, and Molly Thompson-Smith electing to skip the event. 

And yet, despite only fielding four athletes, three made the semi-finals.

Lucy Garlick, still just seventeen years of age, made her first semi-finals in just her second senior Boulder World Cup competition - eventually finishing in fifteenth place. On the men's side, Dayan Akhtar showed impressive consistency by reaching his second World Cup semi-final in as many events.

Dayan Akhtar made his second successive semi-final  © IFSC
Dayan Akhtar made his second successive semi-final

Olympian-to-be Toby Roberts came painstakingly close to reaching successive finals, missing out due to the number of attempts it took him to reach the zone on the second boulder of the semi-final.

In the men's side of the World Cup, Jakob Schubert, Bronze medallist in Tokyo, was the only climber in the semi-final to top three boulders, with the next four climbers finishing on two tops and four zones, whilst the eight athletes that followed finished on two tops with three zones.

Separation based largely on zones and attempts to zones, rather than tops, continued to be the theme of the final, with five of the six male finalists topping just one boulder.

Jakob gave us a classic moment early on in the final, on M1. After struggling to work out the dynamic and co-ordinated moves through the lower section of the boulder, he finally stuck the move with just under two minutes left on the clock. He then ran down the clock on the balancey upper section, eventually falling off the final hold with just over a minute remaining.

After another failed attempt, and a foot slip whilst preparing for the low dyno, Jakob launched into the move with just twenty-four seconds on the clock. He cruised through the lower section, somehow sped through the same delicate and precarious beta he'd used previously on the upper section, and reached the final hold - and matched - with just one second left on the clock. 

Had he been a second later, he would have finished in sixth position. As it was, that 'buzzer-beater' - and the three zones he managed across the following three boulders - landed him third place, his first World Cup boulder podium since 2021, also in Salt Lake City, also in May, also ahead of an Olympic games.

Meichi Narasaki took the silver medal, with his flash of M3 - a boulder that is well worth a watch - enough to move him above Jakob due to attempts to top, whilst Sohta Amagasa came in fourth, despite having the same number of tops and zones as Meichi and Jakob.

Far and away the best of the bunch, however, was Sorato Anraku. He took M1 down in just two attempts, his flash of the zone on M2 was as good as anyone could manage, his top of M3 set him ahead of the field, and his top of M4 secured the Gold medal position, as well as the current overall top spot in the Boulder World Cup rankings.

Men's podium  © IFSC/Slobodan Miskovic
Men's podium
© IFSC/Slobodan Miskovic

Whilst Sorato was dominant in the final, Jakob was similarly supreme in the semi-final, and with both Tomoa Narasaki and Toby Roberts showing impressive consistency across the first two World Cups of the season - and perhaps falling victim to a Salt Lake semi-final that saw too much compression amongst the top fourteen athletes - it's exciting to think about just how tight the battle for the top spot in Paris could be.

Whilst Salt Lake gave us a sense of just how competitive the battle for the men's Gold is likely to be in Paris, the absence of Janja Garnbret in the women's comp meant that we couldn't make any direct comparisons at the top of the women's field.

That being said, the women's competition still gave us a good indication of exactly who the top competitors are likely to be in Paris, with Natalia Grossman, Oriane Bertone, and Oceania Mackenzie - all of whom have already qualified for the Olympics - competing for the Salt Lake crown, along with last year's overall Boulder World Cup bronze medallist, Brooke Raboutou, who will compete for a ticket to Paris at the Olympic Qualifier Series in just over a week's time. 

Natalia was head and shoulders above the competition in the semi-finals, the only athlete to top all four boulders, whilst the next closest competitor, Oriane, managed two tops and four zones. 

When it came to the final, it was a closer affair, and with a surprise competitor - Naïlé Meignan of France - the athlete who stuck most closely to Natalia's heels. Having been kept away from the senior circuit since 2021 due to injury, it was great to see Naïlé back climbing again, and to see her carrying some of her form from Youth competitions into the senior circuit.

Whilst four of the six finalists flashed W1, and both Naïlé and Oriane were able to top W2 to stay in touch of Natalia - who flashed both boulders - it was Naïlé who was able to match Natalia's three tops over the first three boulders, to keep the pressure on going into the final boulder. 

It all came down to the final boulder, a head-height slab traverse featuring dual-tex holds and committing moves - all feet, no hands. Getting to the zone alone seemed like the crux of the boulder. First up, Naïlé struggled to land the dynamic leap across the dual-tex, but eventually managed to secure the zone, and move into first place, with just eight seconds left on the clock.

Naïlé Meignan prepares to jump  © IFSC
Naïlé Meignan prepares to jump

Oceanie Mackenzie was out next. A quick flash of the boulder, with barely a moment of anxiety, and she was done. Maybe the slab wasn't as hard as it first seemed?

Next out was Brooke. Four minutes of wild falls later, she left without a zone. Out came Mao Nakamura. No luck, no zone. Oceania's flash was becoming more impressive with every passing failed attempt - how would Oriane and Natalia fare?

Needing a top to challenge for the Gold medal, Oriane came out confident. She was a fraction away from finding the balance point on her first attempt. On her second attempt, she found it with ease, and - after a moment's hesitation on the upper section - she found the final hold, and moved into first place.

So, one athlete still to go, with Natalia needing a zone to take top spot, on a boulder that had seen two athletes fail to make the zone.

Natalia's first attempt wasn't close. Her second attempt was even further away. Maybe her knee, strapped up since injuring it earlier in the competiton, was causing her issues? Her third attempt was no closer. On her fourth attempt she slipped on the easy intro section, before she'd even reached the difficult climbing. Was the pressure getting to her?

Fifth attempt, maybe a little closer. Sixth attempt, definitely better. Seventh attempt - there it is! Balance found, Natalia was unable to finish the final boulder, but the zone, along with her flashes of boulders one, two, and three was enough, and the Gold medal was secured.

Oriane finished in second place, with Naïlé Meignan finishing in third, in her very first senior World Cup. With three tops and four zones apiece, it was attempts to tops and zones that separated the top three of a close final, in which all four of the boulders were flashed, yet nobody climbed all four boulders.

Women's podium  © IFSC/Slobodan Miskovic
Women's podium
© IFSC/Slobodan Miskovic

In the Paraclimbing, GB's Luke Smith achieved a personal best podium finish in what was the opening World Cup of the season. 

Luke, who is an RP3 athlete, qualified in second place in the lead, and was then able to maintain this good form going into the final, where he secured his very first silver medal.

Speaking to GB Climbing, Luke said 'I am very happy to get my first medal at an international competition; after breaking my hand recently it has taken really strength and determination to get back to this level of competition'.

'To get silver really means a lot and I look forward to the next competition, in which I hope to continue contesting for the podium!'

The next World Cup stop will be Innsbruck at the end of June, but with the Olympic Qualifying Series kicking off in nine days time, with stops in both Shanghai and Budapest, there's plenty of high stakes competition climbing on the horizon.

Boulder Women

1 Natalia Grossman USA4T4z 13 63T4z 3 10
2 Oriane Bertone FRA2T4z 5 43T4z 6 6
3 Naile Meignan FRA2T4z 8 83T4z 6 13
4 Oceana Mackenzie AUS2T4z 8 52T4z 2 7
5 Brooke Raboutou USA2T4z 5 112T3z 2 7
6 Mao Nakamura JPN2T4z 5 62T3z 4 5
7 Lucia Dörffel GER1T4z 2 4
8 Anastasia Sanders USA1T4z 2 5
9 Kylie Cullen USA1T4z 2 10
10 Anon MATSUFUJI JPN1T4z 5 5
11 Melody SEKIKAWA JPN1T3z 2 3
12 Agathe Calliet FRA0T4z 0 5
13 Katja Kadic SLO0T4z 0 7
14 Jessica Pilz AUT0T4z 0 9
15 Lucy Garlick GBR0T4z 0 9
16 Madison Fischer CAN0T3z 0 3
17 Kyra Condie USA0T3z 0 4
18 Sofya Yokoyama SUI0T3z 0 10
19 Lucija Tarkus SLO0T2z 0 2
20 Florence Grünewald GER0T2z 0 6
42 Eugenie Lee GBRQual: 1T2z 6 6

Boulder Men

1 Sorato ANRAKU JPN2T4z 7 93T4z 11 11
2 Meichi Narasaki JPN2T4z 5 101T4z 1 13
3 Jakob Schubert AUT3T4z 7 41T4z 7 9
4 Sohta Amagasa JPN2T3z 4 101T4z 7 12
5 Jan-Luca Posch AUT2T4z 4 71T3z 3 12
6 Yannick Flohé GER2T4z 5 111T2z 3 4
7 Toby Roberts GBR2T3z 4 14
8 Colin Duffy USA2T3z 6 6
9 Tomoa Narasaki JPN2T3z 7 10
10 Oscar Baudrand CAN2T3z 8 6
11 Nikolay Rusev BUL2T3z 9 6
11 Manuel Cornu FRA2T3z 9 6
13 Slav Kirov BUL2T3z 10 7
14 Thomas LEMAGNER FRA2T2z 8 8
15 Yuji Fujiwaki JPN1T4z 7 14
16 Timotej Romšak SLO1T3z 2 11
17 Benjamin Hanna USA1T3z 6 5
18 Yoshiyuki Ogata JPN1T3z 7 6
19 Benjamin Vargas CHI0T3z 0 15
20 Dayan Akhtar GBR0T2z 0 6

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8 May

Does anyone know if there's an easy way to sign up for reminders when international comps are to be happening. I know I could look at the comp calendar and manually set notifications for each but is there a better way?

There's a good dates list here but IFSC don't offer reminders I'm afraid:

I'll bare it in mind for future development on UKC.

10 May

A UKC option would be brilliant. Fingers crossed.

Thanks Paul.

11 May

Not trying to highjack this thread (Congrats to all the above competitors!) but has anyone seen any results from the junior comp in Graz on the same weekend. I did expect to see something on the GBClimbing facebook page, but nothing! Nothing on the BMC site either! As usual!

11 May

The "WC Series" app has it. Also this is the IFSC results database

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