Report Final Female Lead

Ashima Shiraishi © Giulio Malfer

Finals female youth B lead
The weather was damp this morning for the first Lead final of these World Youth Championships, the Youth B – Under 16 category. But these 8 magnificent finalists certainly weren’t going to be put off by so little. Neither the spectators: a sea of umbrellas filled the Climbing Stadium. And they were off. Russia’s Viktoriia Meshkova got the ball rolling up the lefthand wall. There was anticipation in the air, but also tension. The Russian (8th in the Semis) started well, climbed halfway up the route. Croatia’s Jani Zoraj fell after just 3 holds. While Russia’s Elena Krasovskaia pushed higher, gaining an additional 3 holds. Too little. The top was still a long way off… In the meantime the sun had evaporated yesterday’s rain and the Climbing Stadium now shone brightly. Russia’s Eliska Adamovska climbed next but it wasn’t her day, she fell just below Zoraj. Yes, this route didn’t anything away, each hold had to be fought for, one after the next. America’s Brooke Raboutou, daughter of two of Rock Master’s greats, ace French climber Didier and America’s Robyn Erbesfield,climbed just over half the route, past the four blue pyramid volumes and even past their red ”twins”. The following black hold seemed a sloper, difficult to stick… and this is where she fell. This appeared to be the last filter that opened the gates to the upper section of route, and it is here that excellent Italian Laura Rogora fell, too. Slovenia’s Mia Krampl (second to last athlete to compete) fared somewhat better and crimped another couple of holds. But she fell in the middle of the overhang, a long way from the top. Just one athlete was left to climb. Young American Ashima Shiraishi. Until now she had dominated the Boulder (to win the Bouldering World Championship) by sending all 12 boulder problems. And until now she had also dominated the lead, by climbing all the routes set so far. The only one to do so. So when Ashima took the stage it seemed a completely different story: she climbed upwards, regular and strong, unstoppable. Only for a moment did she stop and rest at the “small blue pirates”, then she continued. She stuck the big black sloper (with disarming ease) and then… that was it. Her waltz to the top looked like a mere formality. So just a few days having won the Boulder title, Ashima Shiraishi now also won the Lead World Championship. Yes, Ashima really is in a league of her own, a champion. Like this sport has rarely seen before. Slovenia’s Mia Krampl won silver, Italy’s Laura Rogora bronze..

Janja Garnbret © Giulio Malfer

Final female youth A lead
The second Lead final of this Youth World Championship was the Under 18 Youth A. The route tackled the tower on the left, the same one used in the “smaller” Youth B final. The spectators knew the “filters”, those demanding sections that barred towards the top. Above all that big sloping black hold that opened the gates to the – still demanding – upper section. Switzerland’s Michelle Hulliger fell well below this crux. Britain’s Grace McKeehan did somewhat better and almost reached that section, those long reach to the hold that (in Youth B) was considered the bridging point towards the upper realm.  A bridge that remained distant for Italy’s Ilaria Scolaris who fell lower, falling off the same hold as Hulliger. Immediately afterwards Asja Gollo, the other Italian in the running for the title,  climbed higher than McKeehan, continued upwards but then fell right at the limit. Provisional first, 4 holds higher than the Brit. But the gates to the upper section remained well and truly shut. For everyone.Even for America’s Claire Buhrfeind who fell a hold from her teammate McKeehan. Only Margo Hayes, the third American in the finals, managed to break through the crux and make some headway. A feat impossible for Japan’s Aika Tajima, who climbed past Gollo’s highpoint but then stopped 3 holds short of Hayes who, with just one athlete still to come, was provisional first. Tajima lay in provisional second, Gollo third. Many knew that these results (unfortunately above all for the Italian spectators) were destined to change, as the last athlete out was Slovenia’s Janja Garnbret. The Boulder World Champion had, until now, completely dominated the Lead, and she was the only Youth A athlete who had climbed to the top of all Lead routes. So when Garnbret breached the crux and started up towards the top, few were amazed. And like a real champion she climbed to the top. So after having won the Boulder title, she also took gold in the Lead, demonstrating that these youngsters are a force to be reckoned with in both disciplines. And also, and above all, that she is a champion of the new future. She was followed into second place by America’s Margo Hayes (who doubled her takings after winning silver in the Boulder Championships), while bronze went to Aika Tajima from Japan. Italy’s Asja Gollo finished fourth and, by a single hold, only just failed to replicate her third place after winning bronze in the Boulder Championship. While her teammate Ilaria Scolaris places 7th overall.
Anak Verhoeven © Giulio Malfer

Final female Juniors Lead
In the Under 20 Final the turning point came all of a sudden, brought about by Austria’s Jessica Pilz. Everyone before her on the huge righthand wall had fallen far lower, even before reaching the large overhang and upside-down wave that leads over the lip and towards the top. Neither Julia Fiser nor Claudia Ghisolfi managed to get that far, although the Italian did beat the Austrian by a The Austrian not only climbed higher than the rest but, with great tenacity, managed to work he way to well under the roof. And, after all that upside down climbing – by no means easy and at times even “confusing”- she fell just a few holds short of the top. Her immense battle had netted probably netted her a podium. Which was confirmed when Sweden’ Kajsa Ottilia Rosen (one of the three to top out in the semi-final) fell low, at the height of France’s Salomé Romain. And even more so when France’s Julia Chanourdie, second in the Semifinals, dropped off two holds below her. At this point, with only one athlete still to come, Pilz was provisional first and had, at worst, won silver. . While Chanourdie was definitely third. The time now came of for Anak Verhoeven. The Belgian had to defend his provisional first place from the semifinals. She knew that the gap between her and the others was minimal. Just like she knew that she would have to give it everything she had. And this is exactly what she did, even technically speaking, in particular below the big roof and lip. She gritted her teeth and pulled out all the stops to climb one hold higher than Pilz. So she, Anak Verhoeven, was the new Juniors Lead World Champion. Austria’s Jessica Pilz won silver. France’s Julia Chanourdie bronze. While Claudia Ghisolfi finished her competition in 6th place.

by Vinicio Stefanello /

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