Finals wrapped at Villars today with four Americans taking medals at the historic venue. Despite their volume, victory was taken by Slovenia’s Janja Garnbret and Japan’s Taisei Homma. These Lead finalists furthered the trend of dominance expressed by these three nations on the World Cup stage.
After last week’s strong performance, Garnbret returned to the international field with Tops of both the semi-final and final routes. Last week’s results featured a skew due to the fatigue many top finalists carried from the previous bouldering rounds. Today showed Garnbret solidly ahead of her competition.
Team USA – Women
With that said, the field better reflected the category’s ability as Brooke Raboutou and Natalia Grossman climbed without fatigue from previous bouldering rounds. As such, Grossman managed a third-place podium and her first medal of the Lead season.
Raboutou, by comparison took silver with a smooth run at the women’s final route. Although Grossman’s fight to high point was inspiring, Raboutou’s effortless ascent to her high-point, preceding Garnbret, showed that the Slovenian is not the only one with power to spare. Raboutou fell on a route reading error at the top of the wall.
After the bullet hard setting of last week’s competition, the setters appeared to soften the difficulty of finals. At Innsbruck the setting lacked separation, with second-, third-, and fourth- placed athletes each securing the same score. At Villars, the Setters built a perfectly separated competition.
The only IFSC-related issue from the event was Manon Hily’s short rope on an impressive mid-route dyno. She was allowed to climb again and ultimately secured fifth. The belayer, it seemed, was not ready for such a throw.
Competition-style bouldering is pushing further into the Lead category, and today’s women’s route showcased that development. Not only did the largest lateral dyno of the season greet the women in finals, it was arguably the easier of the two coordination moves found on route. A swinging lunge to a catch guarded the Top and only Garnbret could negotiate the style of movement.
Strong results in the recent University Championship competitions showed Homma as capable, but today’s result surprised on lookers. Hanging on longer than the rest, Homma secured his first IFSC Lead World Cup medal by winning the competition. The increasing number of new faces on the podium showed a deepening field.
Team USA – Men
Among those new faces were American’s Jesse Grupper and Colin Duffy. They each came out well this weekend, securing silver and bronze respectively. Grupper appeared to just undershoot the hold following his high-point, while Duffy’s foot popped high up on the route.
Grouper is on track to secure gold after earning bronze last week and silver this week. The American is not tired on the wall, regardless of the grip type. This truth is what sets the American apart from the competition. He can take longer on difficult moves, and recover from poorly executed sequences, to offer them second attempts with different beta.
Duffy, by comparison, excels on the harder sequences, and showed last week that he is more than capable of leading the men’s category. His back-to-back boulder and lead gold medals set a new standard for consistency after a season of near misses. Today he podiumed again, joining Groupper as the two most consistent athletes in the men’s Lead category.
The bouldery style of the men’s route further showcased the direction Lead setting is turning. Not only did a lateral jump in the beginning require an extra crashpad, but the punchy movements in the first two sections of the climb left very little time for reflection. With that said, a small rest broke up these first two sections. It allowed climbers a brief pause on an otherwise powerful boulder problem.
1 – Janja Garnbret (SLO)
2 – Brooke Raboutou (USA)
3 – Natalia Grossman (USA)
4 – Laura Rogora (ITA)
5 – Manon Hily (FRA)
6 – Chaehyun Seo (KOR)
7 – Ryu Nakagawa (JPN)
8 – Natsuki Tanii (JPN)
1 – Taisei Homma (JPN)
2 – Jesse Grupper (USA)
3 – Colin Duffy (USA)
4 – Yannick Flohé (GER)
5 – Satone Yoshida (JPN)
6 – Yoshiyuki Ogata (JPN)
7 – Mejdi Schalck (FRA)
8 – Ao Yurikusa (JPN)
Featured Image of Jesse Grupper by Lena Drapella