Day 6: the Lead Semifinalists of the Arco Youth World Championships

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Second day of Lead Qualifications. Sixth day of the Arco Youth World Championships. Right from the early hours of the morning the 451 pretenders to the 26 semifinal thrones (one for each of the three male and female categories) trickled in to the Climbing Stadium.

Some had already been on a warm-up run around Arco. Others started the day with some gentle stretching… While other pitched their “camps” on the green lawn in front of the competition area, opposite the gigantic Rock Master wall. Yesterday the Australian team had pitched the first enormous “bivy sheet”. Today the South Africans and Mexicans followed suit. The crowd of spectators, like during all these World Championship days, was huge, especially considering that this was an interim qualification round. And this is one of the beautiful aspects of these Championships.

The Lead discipline, climbing with a rope, is dictated by long moments that, all of a sudden, can spark up lightening fast. Here you need to be a master at cheating gravity and the void. You need to strong but also precise, with flawless technique. Be imaginative and above perfect. Because every mistake, every unnecessarily move risks deplenishing energy reserves, risks being wasted far too early. In short, climbers need determination, technique and, at the same time, the ability to resist. The aim is to climb sky-high and, if you want, reach “perfection”. It comes as no coincidence that this is the most noble discipline, climbing’s first and most “antique”.

But it’s time to move on, otherwise the words risk sounding hollow. The young and extremely young athletes want to climb to prove their worth. They don’t think about the void or anything else. The best, for them, is to go climbing, ideally as high as possible. The objective, for everyone, is the top! Even if – it has to be said – very few actually make it that far. But this is part of the game, of this particular sport. And it also has to be said that the routes today, just like yesterday, were by no means easy. And so, once again, those who reached the point of nothing left to climb were very few indeed.

Only two female athletes managed to get full marks in this qualification round the for the semis. The first by 16-year-old Slovenian Janja Garnbret (Youth A – Under 18), the second by 14-year-old American Ashima Shiraishi (Youth B – Under 16). Both were the only in their category. Having both topped out yesterday they doubled their takings, proving once again how immense their talent is. Jana with her decisive, perfect climbing. Ashima with her tranquility and astounding interpretation of the moves through the huge waved-roof. And if you consider the fact that on Monday they were both crowned Bouldering World Champions of their respective categories, it’s easy to understand why many – youngsters included – dare to call them climbing aces. Having said that, they’ve obviously got to deal with other fearsome rivals. Shiraishi vs her American teammate Brooke Raboutou (seconda, thanks to a superb performance today) and also Austria’s Eva Maria Hammelmüller (third, just 2 holds behind Raboutou). Garnbret for her part will have to defend herself against the likes of America’s Margo Hayes (Bouldering vice-champion)and Japan’s Aika Tajima, third in Arco today. Italy’s colors flew high with Asja Gollo, after winning Bouldering silver, finished 5th ahead of her 6th placed teammate Ilaria Scolaris. The two Juniors who lead the provisional results obviously put in a very fine performance indeed: Austria’s Jessica Pilz and Belgium’s Anak Verhoeven: both topped out on both routes, meaning that they’re provisional first and the currently the ones to beat. Hot on their heels are France’s Salomé Romain (top today) and Serbia’s Stasa Gejo who, after having won the Bouldering World Championship, seems slightly less convincing but nevertheless provisional 4th.

In the male comps he who certainly gave his best is Filip Schenk who produced the only top in his Youth B category today. The Italian is currently joint-equal with Belgium’s Harold Peeters who, yesterday, had managed to climb 3 holds higher. It’s clear that hopes are high of Schenk winning a second medal, after Monday’s Boulder World Championship gold. But Peeters, as well Spain’s Mikel Asier Linacisoro Molina, Russia’s Nikolai Michurov and determined Italian Pietro Biagini (3rd, 4th and 5th respectively) seem like highly dangerous opponents. With 2 tops in 2 competitions the Under 18 Youth A Male was won by 16-year-old American powerhouse Kai Lightner. He was followed, without tops, by France’s Hugo Parmentier (2nd), Belgium’s Nicolas Collin (3rd) and Japan’s Yoshiyuki Ogata (4th) and Taito Nakagami (5th). Stefano Carnati from Italy placed 11th. Keiichiro Korenaga from Japan produced the only top in the Juniors to take provisional lead, overtaking his teammate Naoki Shimatani. Provisional third went to America’s Jesse Grupper, 4th went to another Japanese, Yuki Hada, while 18-year-old Italian placed 5th, improving yesterday’s standings by two places.

Tomorrow the Lead continues with the Semifinals at 9:15… 156 athletes (split into the usual 3 categories) will compete. It promises to be a long and exciting day for those 8 places in the final. May the battle continue!

by Vinicio Stefanello / Planetmountain.com

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