Friday, August 29, 2014 Arco Rock Legends celebrates its ninth edition by assigning, during the Rock Master Festival, the two prestigious sport climbing Oscars entitled Salewa Rock Award and La Sportiva Competition Award. Those nominated for the Salewa Rock Award are Alexander Megos, Adam Ondra and Muriel Sarkany, while Sachi Amma, Urko Carmona Barandiaran and Dimitri Sharafudtinov have been nominated for the La Sportiva Competition Award. The Climbing Ambassador by Aquafil award will be assigned to the Italian writer, sculptor, alpinist and rock climber Mauro Corona.

The sport climbing Oscars. These are the words used to describe the Arco Rock Legends, the coveted prize that for the last nine years has been awarded to the best sport climbers in the world during the classic Rock Master Festival, the champion’s climbing competition that takes place from 28 August to 7 September in Arco (Garda Trentino, Italy). And just like the film Oscars, at these climbing Oscars there is an exceptional jury composed of a select pool of international climbing magazines and, above all, there are some exceptional candidates who left their mark at the crags and in climbing competitions last season. In fact, for the prize given to sport climbs outdoors – the Salewa Rock Award – there are three superb candidates, namely Alexander Megos from Germany, Adam Ondra from the Czech Republic and Muriel Sarkany from Belgium. As for the prize dedicated to climbing competitions – the La Sportiva Competition Award – the athletes that have been selected by the jury in this initial phase are Sachi Amma from Japan, Urko Carmona Barandiaran from Spain and Dimitri Sharafudtinov from Russia. Three plus three, six super climbers who all made the grade last year.

Salewa Rock Award. This is the unique award that goes to climbers for their single pitch sport climbs or their short and intense boulder problems. Unique because, just like with the famous Ballon d’Or, the candidates are chosen by an international jury composed of the most important specialised magazines. The very same jury that decided to nominate – starting with the fairer sex – Muriel Sarkany. The Belgian climber best known for her thousand competition victories who, after bidding farewell to the circuit, certainly didn’t give up climbing. On the contrary, she upped the ante and in redpointing Punt-X at the Gorges du Loup in France last November she even sent the legendary 9a grade. A historic milestone in her personal climbing curriculum, but also for female climbing that has witnessed precious little 9a’s so far. Sarkany struck a cord with this incredible performance and also with her determination and love for climbing that, at 39 years of age, seems to have no limits. Another love for climbing that seems limitless is that of Adam Ondra. The 21-year-old from the Czech Republic and four-times winner of this award convinced the jury this year thanks to his capacity and drive to climb everything, immediately. This year, in fact, he set a new precedent by onsighting two 9a’s (the maximum ever achieved in this style), as well as finding the time and energy to free three 9b’s and one new 9b+. The latter happens to be check in as one of the three hardest sport climbs in the world, and it is worth remembering that the other two were first ascended by Ondra, too… an athlete at the very apex of this sport, without ifs, ands or buts. The third nomination this year – and it could not be otherwise – goes to another young climber, Germany’s Alexander Megos. Nominated last year for his amazing world’s first 9a onsight, this year Megos’ impact on the climbing scene has in some ways been even bigger… a stopwatch has become a new standard, as has a long list of repeats up to 9a+, often in less than two hours. This speed highlights how the 20-year-old is leading us towards a new horizon, hitherto unthinkable. And, in addition to repeating routes at breakneck speed, Megos has also begun to make the first ascent of his own climbs. Beautiful, pretty damn difficult and all lightening fast, obviously. The only thing that is currently not obvious is who among Sarkany, Ondra and Megos will win the Salewa Rock Award 2014. The jury, which will meet at Arco on 29 August, will have to make some tough decisions!

La Sportiva Competition Award. Selecting a winner from this category, the competitions, has historically never been easy, either. A fleeting glance at the results certainly doesn’t suffice because, in addition to the competition results from the various disciplines (Lead, Bouldering and Speed) and various competitions (World Cup, European Championship, etc.), the judges must also consider the style and impact that these athletes have on the entire competition movement. This is why one of those nominated for this award is Sachi Amma, the ever-smiling Japanese athlete who proved, for the second year in a row, that he’s the man to beat when it comes to difficulty competitions. Having said that, he’s no slouch in bouldering either, as can be seen from his third place in the Combined ranking that takes into account his results in all disciplines. In short, Amma is an athlete who knows how to express both joy and competitiveness at the very same time. Spain’s Urko Carmona Barandiaran – the second athlete nominated – is ever smiling, too, regardless of the difficulties he has to face. Maybe it’s because for this paraclimber the word “obstacle” simply doesn’t exist, as can be seen from his numerous competition victories such as last summer’s European Championship, to which one also needs to add last season’s World Championship. A true champion, in competitions as in life in general. The third true champion in this year’s nominations is Russia’s Dmitry Sharafutdinov, the three-time Boulder World Champion who finally fulfilled his dream last season to win his first ever Bouldering World Cup title. A second place in the European Championship and a fourth place in Combined World Cup (Lead + Boulder) confirms that he is the absolute king of bouldering.

Who will win the Salewa Rock Award and the La Sportiva Competition Award will be unveiled on Friday, August 29th during the awards ceremony at Arco hosted, as every year, by the journalist and keen outdoor enthusiast Kay Rush. She will open the two envelopes and reveal the names of the winners who will join the Arco Rock Legends Hall of Fame. And she will also open the third envelope that contains the name of the winner of the other prestigious award, the Climbing Ambassador by Aquafil prize that will be assigned to a climber who has contributed to the culture of sport climbing worldwide. Last year the prize was awarded to the Paraclimbing movement and to all Paraclimbers, while in the past those who took the stage were Stefan Glowacz, Maurizio “Manolo” Zanolla, Luisa Iovane, Lynn Hill, François Legrand and Yuji Hirayama. This year the award goes to Mauro Corona, the Italian writer, sculptor, alpinist and climber and discoverer of the legendary Erto crag that, throughout all these years, has been an important meeting point and testing ground for all of the best climbers the world. Just like Arco itself, with its stunning crags and unique territory that should be celebrated on a daily basis and, in particular, on Friday, August 29, 2014 when it hosts the IX edition of Arco Rock Legends!

Salewa Rock Award – Josune Bereziartu (2006), Patxi Usobiaga (2007), Adam Ondra (2008), Chris Sharma (2009), Adam Ondra (2010), Adam Ondra (2011), Sasha DiGiulian (2012), Adam Ondra (2013)
La Sportiva Competition Award – Angela Eiter (2006), David Lama (2007), Maja Vidmar (2008), Kilian Fischhuber (2009), Akiyo Noguchi (2010), Ramon Julien Puigblanque (2011), Anna Stöhr (2012), Mina Markovic (2013)

President: Giorgio Balducci (regista RAI)
International magazines: Montana (CZE), Desnivel (ESP), Klettern (GER), UP Climbing (ITA), Montagne 360° (ITA), Meridiani Montagne (ITA), Risk (RUS), Man and Mountain (KOR), Gory (POL), The Circuit (NZ)

SALEWA ROCK AWARD 2014 NOMINATIONS (in alphabetical order)
Period: June 2013 – May 2014

Alexander Megos – Germany
After last year’s 9a onsight, Megos certainly didn’t glued to the sofa. On the contrary, the stopwatch has become the new yardstick to measure his achievements, with 9a+ repeats in less than 2 hours. More impressive though, he has begun to make first ascents at breakneck speed.

Adam Ondra – Czech Republic
Ondra is out to get everything. This year he freed three 9b’s and one 9b+ (the third 9b+ in the world, all his) and, as the only person in the world, he onsights two 9a’s. To date he has climbed almost 100 9a’s or harder, an astounding record. Unsurprisingly he has already won the Arco Rock Legends Awards four times.

Muriel Sarkany – Belgium
Just one route, but what a line! After injuring her wrist and a long lay off, the strong Belgian – known for her thousand victorious competition battles – travelled to the Gorges du Loup to win the fight against a 9a. Another historic feat, for her personal curriculum but also for female climbing

Period: competition season 2013

Sachi Amma – Japan
For the second year running the Japanese has proven that he’s the man to beat in Lead competitions. But he’s also a force to be reckoned with in bouldering, too, as can be seen from his 3rd place in the Combined ranking

Urko Carmona Barandiaran – Spain
The Spaniard is the man to measure against, and he confirmed this not only this season, but also in 2012 when he won the World Championship. Determination and a smile are his hallmarks, in competitions and elsewhere.

Dmitrii Sharafutdinov – Russia
After years of trying the ace Russian, three times Bouldering World Champion, finally wins his first Bouldering World Cup. Another dream come true.