It was a disappointing weekend for Slovene climbing fans in the penultimate Speed and Lead World Cup of the season in Xiamen (China), as Slovenian athletes didn’t win any medals in any of the categories.
Xiamen’s Lead World Cup started this past Saturday, October 19th, with the qualification round. Bad route-setting was a constant all over the weekend, but we could see a first glimpse of it on this first stage, as four women, including Janja Garnbret and Lučka Rakovec, topped both routes in their category – usually it’s highly unlikely than even one competitor can achieve it. Moreover, fourteen female athletes made it to hold 35+ on the first route, and topped the second one.
All three Slovene women who were competing (Garnbret, Rakovec and Krampl) progressed to semifinals on Sunday, where spectators were hoping for a better route-setting that could make the competition slightly more interesting. However, this didn’t happen, and again it was too easy for the athletes to make it to higher points of the wall, as seventeen climbers made it to hold 33+ or higher, including Lučka Rakovec and Janja Garnbret, who topped the route. Mia Krampl, on the other hand, slipped on hold 18 and was out of the final round.
Fans were hoping that after such disastrous rounds the route-setting would improve for the finals, but they were disappointed. Sadly, the route was once again too easy and the climbers cruised up the wall. With the exception of Ai Mori, who fell on hold 10+, all the other athletes made it to hold 31+ or higher. Janja Garnbret and Lučka Rakovec fell on the last move of the route, but even that was not enough to make it to the podium and they finished in 4th and 6th places after the countback to the semifinals. Unfortunately, this meant that Janja now has no chance of winning the overall lead title in 2019, which would have meant that she’d won everything this season. This doesn’t mean, however, that this season hasn’t been a dream for Slovenia’s female climbers. Garnbret has won the Overall Bouldering Title and has also won a gold medal in all three categories she competed in (Lead, Bouldering and Combined) in the World Championships held two months ago; Rakovec has won her first gold medal in a European Championship and a bronze one in an International World Cup; and Mia Krampl won Silver medal on the Lead World Championship.
The situation was no better on men’s side, and again the route-setting can only be described as poor. Thirty-five athletes out of 53 topped the second route, and eight of them topped both. As a result, for example, both of the Slovene men (Jernej Kruder and Anže Preharc) were out of the semifinals round, even though they topped one route and made it further to hold 30+, a really high up stage on the wall.
However, thanks to this results we now have new Overall Lead World Champions in men’s and women’s categories. Although Adam Ondra (CZE) only participated in three World Cups, he has successfully claimed the title after winning all three competitions. On the women’s side, Chaehyun Seo (KOR), the revelation of the season who is only 15 years old, won the overall title.
Xiamen was also the site of the Speed World Cup, where non-speed specialist such as Adam Ondra himself had to compete in order to be able to participate in the Olympic Combined Qualifier that will take place in Toulouse in a month. As the highlight of the competition, Aries Susanti Rahayu (INDO) broke the female world record in Speed for the final round, reaching the top in 6.995 seconds. She is the first woman to complete the speed route in less than 7 seconds.
The last Lead World Cup event of the season will take place this next weekend in Inzai, Japan. As the main titles have already a winner, we will have to wait and see which athletes actually decide to participate in the last World Cup of the year, and hope that the route-setting is better this time.