# ROCKMASTER FESTIVAL 2014 / Vai al sito dell'edizione in corso >> 2014

Rock Master Lead 2013 - Sean McColl - ph Giulio Malfer / planetmountain.com


There is something about Rock Master that makes it different from all the other competitions. Perhaps it’s the unique atmosphere felt in all great classics of every sport. Perhaps it’s because the history of climbing was forged here. Whatever the reason, the fact of the matter is that even today, as the onsight started, the tension and anticipation were almost palpable. Eight places into this evening’s Final were at stake, but there was more, too. Yes, because the Climbing Stadium is in itself already a test, climbing up the Rock Master routes is always a step into the unknown. And then of course there are the spectators. That (expert) audience that watches you from the legendary lawn, encourages, applauds, suffers or rejoices with you.

In short, being here is at bit like being at la Scala – the Academy of Lyric Opera – of climbing, you simply can’t hit a wrong note… but if you do, you won’t get booed at like some tenors do. This was clear right from the start, when one of the great Rock Masters fell low, far too low for her standard. A deafening silence of astonishment followed. The breath that the whole stadium heaved when Maja Vidmar fell and ended her comp (far too soon) is indicative of how much Rock Master counts, far more than other competitions. How much this event is perceived and interpreted as a single, nigh unrepeatable act. And how difficult it all is. Even for champions such as the Slovenian who had yearned to climb here today, so much so that she had started and qualified from the Open.

Today’s onsight breached the righthand wall. The one with the large roof and overhanging wave, historically one of the “cruxes” (for the athletes) and “delights” (for the spectators). If you reach it you’re tired. You need talent to not lose your way up there. To find the right sequence of pirouettes towards the exit. But it’s not as if the lower section is far easier. On the contrary, and well beneath the wave numerous fell. Beginning with Risa Ota from Japan, the aforementioned Maja Vidmar and the emerging French athlete Hélène Janicot. They are the three who are excluded from the final (on the afterwork redpoint route) this evening.

In the men’s comp Austria’s Mario Lechner, Slovenia’s Klemen Becan and Italy’s Francesco Vettorata all suffered the same fate. It has to be said though that the 21-year-old from Feltre, after having conquered his way into the Rock Master from the Open, climbed far higher than the other two and was just a whisker away from qualifying for the final: he touched, but did not stick, the same hold as the far more successful Norwegian Magnus Midtboe and Stefano Ghisolfi. So Vettorata’s was a great climb. As remarkable as that of young Ghisolfi. And just as remarkable as that of Jenny Lavarda who found the strength, and also the experience, to just beat Janicot and qualify 8th in a competition was by no means easy nor obvious.

But nothing is ever obvious in the Arco Rock Master and the fateful upside-down wave got the better of Lead World Champion Jakob Schubert and Sachi Amma from Japan, ie the “man to beat” and one of the strongest athletes in the Lead World Cup. They tied for 5th and this is more than enough for this evening’s final, but it certainly wasn’t the competition of their dreams. And it’s just as certain that no one could have predicted France’s Mathilde 7th place and qualification into the Final as she had made it all the way from the Open.

Now though it’s time for the top players. Those who battled with the upside-down wave. In the women’s event the first “victims” (so to speak) were the two Russians Evgenia Malamid and Dinara Fakhritdinova, 5th and 6th respectively. Austria’s Katharina Posch managed to forge a little higher, while Japan’s talented Akiyo Noguchi proved why she had won the Open. But like in all great competitions, there were just two who forged into a section which seemed simply impossible: Mina Markovic and strong Jain Kim from Korea breached the wave and climbed higher and even higher still. So much so that Markovic got close to the chain, while Kim almost grasped it, almost reached the very top. This is exactly what the audience had hoped, what the spectators had wanted. They cheered and applauded with joy.

But the best was yet to come. The protagonist, the one everyone waited for was, as always, Ramón Julian Puigblanque. So after having applauded Dmitry Fakiryanov who finished 4th, after having witnessed the real revelation – Slovenia’s Domen Skofic – place 3rd and after having appreciated ace Canadian Sean McColl almost breach the entire roof, the time had come. Puigblanque came and the tune changed. With 6 victories he is the Rock Master king, and everyone knows this. He is the champion of this wall, and it was clear why. Without pushing himself too much the Spaniard reached the roof and, surprisingly, made a mistake first time round. Anyone else would have fallen. But not he; he climbed back and reclimbed the rebus, this time via the correct sequence. And then he crimped one hold after the next, ever upwards, into the sky… Well, almost, since he just missed out on the final hold. The crowd loved it and thanked him with a massive applause all the way up his climb… And this, ladies and gentleman, is what the Rock Master is all about!

The final act begins this evening at 20:30. In the meantime the finalists have already tried the “afterwork” redpoint route and their first impressions are that it’s damn hard… cutting edge and the very max!

by di Vinicio Stefanello / Planetmountain.com

1 Jain Kim KOR 49+

2 Mina Markovic SLO 48+
3 Akiyo Noguchi JPN 41+
4 Katharina Posch AUT 39
5 Dinara Fakhritdinova RUS 37+
6 Evgenia Malamid RUS 37
7 Mathilde Becerra FRA 26+
8 Jenny Lavarda ITA 19+
9 Hélène Janicot FRA 18+
9 Maja Vidmar SLO 18+
11 Risa Ota JPN 13+

1 Ramón Julian Puigblanque ESP 54+
2 Sean McColl CAN 45+
3 Domen Skofic SLO 44+
4 Dmitry Fakiryanov RUS 37
5 Sachi Amma JPN 36+
5 Jakob Schubert AUT 36+
7 Stefano Ghisolfi ITA 31+
7 Magnus Midtboe NOR 31+
9 Francesco Vettorata ITA 31
10 Klemen Becan SLO 21
10 Mario Lechner AUT 21

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