MALE YOUTH A BOULDER
It’s 15:00 sharp. The sun continues to shine relentlessly onto the Arco Climbing Stadium. Time for the second session of these Bouldering Youth World Championships, for the Under 18 Youth A category. in this round the male athletes climb below the Lead Wall. It’s strange seeing the base of the Rock Master transofrmed into a boulder zone. Here, by now it’s common knowledge, the first two problems require great technique, all angles and contortions need to be exploited. This time the starting boulder has an enormous hemisphere, it seems like a gigantic “belly” that needs to be… hugged. It’s not easy, by no means “inviting”. So much so that no one manages to send it. Boulder #2 has a start the athletes won’t be forgetting in a hurry: a run from right to left, followed by a dyno towards the starting a hold, the gateway upwards. the last two problems overhang, steeply. And the first surprise comes early thanks to Poland’s Szymon Pecikiewicz who sends problems #2 and #3 second go, only to fail on the final hurdle. Arnaud Ansino from Belgium takes things one stage further, flashing #2, sending #3 fifth go to then steal the show by freeing #4 second go. A superb, somewhat unexpected performance from the Belgian, who suddenly leads the provisional ranking. At this point half the athletes have already competed and the “belly” on problem #1 remains an unsolved enigma. Until Aidan Roberts takes the stage. The Brit needs 5 attempts but succeeds in making the miracle: even the “belly” can be tamed. So when it’s time for the best to start bouldering, all the problems have been climbed at least once.
But it continues to be Aidan Roberts that the crowd focuses on: after #1 he sends #2 in five attempts, then battles hard, eventually unsuccessfully, on #3 and #4. With a final score of 2 tops he beats America’s Benjamin Hanna, Austria’s Florian Klingler and Poland’s Szymon Pecikiewicz. So it’s almost certain that 3 tops provide the safety cushion needed to qualify for the Final. France’s Jules Nicouleau Bourles can rest on that cushion as he leaps into provisional first with 3 tops, 6 attempts. He his followed by America’s Shawn Raboutou (brother of Brooke, the finalist in Youth B female) with 3 tops 7 attempts, by Japan’s Kai Harada (3 tops, 8 attempts) and Arnaud Ansion (3 tops, 10 attempts). In the meantime, Germany’s Max Prinz (4th in the qualifiers) starts making headway. He is the only athlete (apart from Aidan) to send #1, and he proceeds his run on #2 and #3, only to be bowled over by #4. His score of 3 tops in 13 attempts places him 5th overall.
Now the time has come for Japan’s Yoshiyuki Ogata, Switzerland’s Baptiste Ometz and France’s Hugo Parmentier, joint equal in provisional first place after yesterday’s qualifiers. Ogata fails on the first hurdle but then shifts down a gear to zoom through #2 and #3 first go. On the final hurdle a monumental battle and three attempts are needed for the send: he’s provisional first and definitely in tomorrow’s final. Strong and stubborn! Parmentier sends #1 (the “belly”, sent by only 3 athletes in total) after 5 attempts, only to fail on #2. He keeps it together though and sends #3 and #4 on his first and second go respectively. So in the end, after a supremely intense and uncertain battle to the bitter end, the following athletes qualify for the final: Yoshiyuki Ogata (Jpn), Jules Nicouleau Bourles (Fra), Shawn Raboutou (Usa), Kai Harada (Jpn), Hugo Parmentier (Fra) and Arnaud Ansion (Bel). If you consider that they qualified with 3 tops, and that the first 4 are split by just one attempt more, it’s a safe bet that tomorrow’s final will go right to the wire. And this, ladies and gentleman, is what bouldering is all about.
FEMALE YOUTH A BOULDER
The start for the Under 18 Youth A female competitors is harder than ever before. In fact, by the half way stage no one has managed to solve any of the problems. So despite the tough battles the 4 problems lie in wait, patiently… for the first top. That comes at the hands of Russia’s Mariia Musienko who needs 5 attempts for #4. So when 14 athletes have climbed, she takes the provisional lead with 1 top in 5 attempts. Naturally all wait, and hope, to see the light and this shines down on #4: Veronika Simkova from the Czech Republic gets the send after a staggering 13 attempts. Japan’s Aika Tajima sends it second go, placing her provisional second ahead of Musienko and Simkova. But there’s more. Boulder #4 yields to Slovenia’s Tjasa Slemensek in 3 attempts, to Russia’s Iuliia Panteleeva in 5 attempts and to Japan’s Momoka Kaneko in 8 attempts. Hopes are high for the best of the best, and quid rightly so. Italy’s Asja Gollo finally sends #2, 3rd go, before flashing #4. Her ticket to paradise is a final score of 2 tops, 4 attempts. Superb! Next are is the American duo Margo Hayes and Grace McKeehan, and both set off supremely. Margo sends #2 5th go and then flashes #4, but her with 2 tops and 6 attempts she trails just behind Gollo. Just like Grace who, despite gracefully flashing #1, needs 5 attempts for #4. The end result? With 2 tops and 6 attempts she places behind the Italian and her teammate Hayes. Austria’s Johanna Färber (2 top in 11 attempts) trails, as does France’s Charlotte Andre with 1 lone flash on #4. At this point there is only one athlete who can “steal” first from Gollo. Namely Janja Garnbret, the Slovenian athlete who leads the provisional ranking and World Ranking, defending European Champion and climber who many consider a true leader of the pack. Well, this is Garnbret’s competition performance: #1 flash, #2 flash, #3 second go and, to finish in style, #4 sent 3rd go. As in the qualifiers, she’s the only athlete to send all 4 problems. What can we say? Supreme? In tomorrow’s final we’ll find out more. In the meantime Asja Gollo places second thanks to her great semifinal. What is certain is that tomorrow she’ll fight hard to win her place in paradise, together with the other four finalists: Margo Hayes (Usa), Grace McKeehan (Usa), Johanna Färber (Aut) and Charlotte Andre (Fra).
by Vinicio Stefanello / Planetmountain.com