Report Lead Male Semifinal

Pietro Biagini © Giulio Malfer
Semifinals Lead Male Youth B
It’s an important day for the Lead World Championships. After the committing two-day qualifiers – in total 451 athletes split into 3 categories competed in the opening round – access to today’s heat is more restricted. Only the best 26 of each male and female category (hence 156 in total) lined up this morning for the 8 places in the decisive final. Not many if you think about it. Also because from now on there’s no chance to make up for a mistake: there’s just one route, not two like in the qualifiers. It’s clear that most hedge their bets on the leaders of the provisional ranking. So in the Under 16 Youth B category all expect great things off Filip Schenk, the Italian provisional #1 and winner of the Bouldering World Championship on Monday. He’ll probably have to battle it out against Belgium’s Harold Peeters, Spain’s Mikel Asier Linacisoro Molina and also his teammate Pietro Biagini who placed a superb 4th. And today the routes are by no means easy… as can be seen right from the start. But nothing, it seems, can be taken for granted. So much so that halfway through the competition the Frenchmen Pierre Le Cerf and Léo Ferrera lead the provisional ranking after climbing extremely high up the Stadium wall. Japan’s Katsura Konishi got extremely close, separated by a hair’s breadth (same hold, but not moving off it) from America’s Devin Wong. To have a chance of victory the athletes have to forge their way higher and higher. In the meantime France’s Sam Avezou grabs a hold higher than his teammates to take the lead. A trio of Frenchmen in the Lead. Above them an unexplored world of hand and foot holds. But now it’s time for the best 5 from the Qualifiers… The moment of truth has arrived, to check out what this route is all about, to see is anyone can breach the large overhang that bars the way to the top of the route. Mizuki Tajima (Jpn), Nathan Martin (Fra) and Lucas Kepli (Usa) all fall two holds lower than Devin Wong, for the time being still in 5th. Now Pietro Biagini enters the arena. The Italian climbs strong and smoothly, higher and higher, to then fall off exactly the same hold as Le Cerf. Meaning that the Italian, thanks to count back, is currently in first place. Only three competitors remain. Spain’s Mikel Asier Linacisoro Molina falls lower than Ferrera. Harold Peeters immediately confirms his strength, his provisional 2# place after the qualifiers and in the world ranking are fully deserved. Slowly but surely he climbs higher and higher, past all the rest. But not past Avezou: he falls off the very same hold. What is certain is that the Frenchman climbed superbly. Now it’s time for the last man out, Filip Schenk. The last hope to see how exhaustingly difficult this route really is. All the best had fallen from the finishing holds, way up there, way past their“reserve energy” supply. Just like Schenk, who falls off the same hold as Biagini and Le Cerf. Which means that the first in Saturday’s finals, thanks to his better semifinal result, is Harold Peeters (Bel), ahead of Sam Avezou, 2nd, and Filip Schenk 3rd due to countback, while Pietro Biagini is 4th. Pierre Le Cerf makes an astounding 12 place comeback to qualify 5th, ahead of teammate Léo Ferrera 6th (having improved 20 places). Mikel Asier Linacisoro Molina (Esp) and Katsura Konishi (Jpn) complete the list. The Lead Youth B World Championship will be fought out on Saturday. Seeing how close it was today, it’ll be a milimetric battle.

Stefano Carnati © Giulio Malfer

Semifinal Lead Male Youth A
The Under 18 Youth A category climbed the righthand wall. The same one used by their female counterparts. Two parallel, yet different routes. But they have one thing in common: reaching the top is by no means a “walk in the path”. The biggest hurdle is, as usual, the huge upside down wave that opens the gates to the end of the line of holds: the top. Korea’s Minyoung Lee and Jakub Konecny from ther Czech Republic made a good, early start and both fell up high, at the “entrance”to that upper real. France’s Arsène Duval fell two holds lower to beat Britain’sWilliam Bose by a hold. All others were plucked off lower still, including Italy’s Janluca Kostner. The climber who reaches the same hold as Lee and Konecny is Italy’s Stefano Carnati and, in doing so, he takes provisional first with the best 10 still to come. Vadlislav Shevchenko makes sure this situation doesn’t last long: the Russian fights his way through the roof, grabs its last hold, then takes a tumble. Provisional first, three holds higher that Carnati, Lee and Konecnyche, that immediately “resist” the onslaught from Israel’s Yuval Shemla who fell 3 moves away. Swiss Sascha Lehmann took things a significant stage further by climbing higher than Shevchenko and, above all, finding the way to open those gates to the top.

In the meantime James Pope got muddled far lower, in the roof, like America’s Rudolph Ruana, while Japan’s Taito Nakagami fought like a tiger to his last breath to beat Shevchenko. His teammate then succeeded in going one hold higher to finish provisional 2nd behind Lehmann. Three athletes remained: Belgium’s Nicolas Collin, France’s Hugo Parmentier and, last but by no means least, America’s Kai Lightner. It’s on his shoulders, on his undisputed power and class, that everyone’s hopes of someone reaching the top lay. The provisional first 5 exalted as they had already qualified for the final: Lehmann, Ogata, Nakagami, Shevchenko and Carnati. Lee, Konecny and Shemla for their part had to hope that they wouldn’t be bettered. Collin kept their hopes alive by falling a hold from Shemla… But Parmetier then set the record straight and started to make his way well towards the highest point of all – those holds reached by Lehmann. The Frenchman battled unrelentingly but then, just one hold from taking the lead, he fell to finish provisional 2nd. Meaning that Shemla was out of the finals. The last athlete out, America’s Kai Lightner, had impressed all in the qualifications. He was the final hope to see someone clip the top anchor. Lightner climbed smoothly to the highpoint reached by Nakagami and Shevchenko, but then, all of a sudden, became unravelled and made a desperate dyno for the next hold to beat the other two by the smallest of margins. So provisional first went to superbly strong Swissman Sascha Lehmann, ahed of: Hugo Parmentier (Fra), Yoshiyuki Ogata (Jnp), Kai Lightner (Usa), Taito Nakagami (Jpn), Vladislav Shevchenko (Rus), Stefano Carnati (Ita) and Minyoung Lee (Kor).

© Giulio Malfer

Semifinals Lead Male Juniors
The third and final Semifinal of the day is reserved for the Juniors. Awaiting them is the righthand side of the wall which, at first glance, looks complicated, difficult and delicate right from the outset. A sort of slow torture which leads you, completely pumped, to the huge overhanging wave. There where – everyone knows by now – it’s make or break for the finals. In the previous Youth A and Youth B semis, those who breached the roof qualified for the finals. Everyone also knows that, until the first half of the athletes are done, usually there’s no outstanding ascent. Just like this time. Only Slovenia’s Anze Peharc had climbed significantly higher (read 4 holds) than the first half of the field, ahead of Spain’s Jonatan Flor Vazquez who had fallen off the same hold as France’s Nathan Clair. All others, including Italy’s Lorenzo Carassio and Federico Andreolli had dropped off far earlier. Yes, this was a route that took no prisoners, didn’t give anything away, not even at the start. So much so that those who actually reached the roof were already pretty spent, such as Austria’s Georg Parma who suddenly “exploded” a fell a hold short of Peharc. America’s Nathaniel Coleman fared even worse, falling off what resembled a sort of Mariana Trench, But one thing was clear: patience was needed. This route was revealing itself little by little, every hold was a little conquest. Slovenia’s Simon Preskar was sucked down into the void there, on that black sloper that no one managed to stick. Belgium’s Simon Lorenzi caused a stir but then fell off at Peharc’s highpoint, halfway through the large roof. Yet this was enough to take the lead thanks to his better result in the quarterfinals. The successive athletes fell off that maximum highpoint; Switzerland’s Dimitri Vogt placed provisional 6th, while Slovenia’s Martin Bergant trailed just behind. Tomoa Narasaki from Japan sent the highly anticipated shockwaves around the stadium by climbing higher than everyone else, working his way well through the roof and then… he fell. His climb added three lengths (read holds) to the previous highpoint. Provisional first, the competition was alive and kicking. America’s Sean Bailey worked his way into 5th overall, behind Parma, and the results continued to remain very… compressed. Austria’s Bernhard Rock managed to push himself upwards, join Lorenzi and Peharc and finish provisional 2nd. Narasaki remained in the lead. Another 6 athletes were still to come though, meaning that by now the end was nigh.

Russia’s Sergei Bydtaev confirmed this by climbing decisively to equal Narasaki and take the lead. Francesco Bosco then came out of isolation. His climbing didn’t appear fluid, but he managed to resist, to correct some small mistakes all the way to below the roof, where he fell a “centimeter” from Peharc, Lorenzi and Röck. But he was nevertheless half a point from Parma who, at this stage, was provisional 6th. Japan’s Yuki Hada put in a startling performance to take the lead. At this point it was a battle for every centimeter… America’s Jesse Grupper reached the same height as Bosco but pushed him from his provisional 7th to provisional 8th… The last place in the finals. It was now time for the two Japanese. Naoki Shimatani was a climber many had hedged their bets on but today wasn’t going to be his day, he unravelled just below Parma and was out of the finals. The route, evidently, was a stern sufferfest, he slightest of mistakes cost dearly. Keiichiro Korenaga then took the stage; the last to climb he was the only athlete to have topped out on yesterday’s second qualification route. Seeing what had happened previously, anything could still happen. But not to Korenaga who, with determination and technique, climbed higher than the rest of the field, four holds in fact. He was followed by Yuki Hada (Jpn), Sergei Bydtaev (Rus), Narasaki Tomoa (Jpn), Bernhard Röck (Aut), Simon Lorenzi (Bel),  Anze Peaharc (Bel) and Jesse Grupper (Usa). The Italian Francesco Bosco was the first excluded from the final by the tightest of margins – he had reached the same hold as Grupper and was therefore excluded due to countback. In fact, many of the finalists were separated by their Qualification results. Such a similar level hadn’t been around for a long time.

Semifinals Lead Female Juniors
If the men’s event the holds were reached with the greatest of difficulties, those in the women’s competition certainly weren’t a joke, either. The girls climbed the lefthand wall, up a line that started to the right of the arete to then breach a small roof that barred the war to the upper section of the face. During the entire first half of the comp no one managed to get further than 2/3 height. Many fell far lower. So at  the 1/2 way stage the best were Switzerland’s Andrea Kümin, America’s Kyra Condie and, just below her, Slovenia’s Rebeka Kamin. The first to climb past this trio, by three holds, was Ievgeniia Kazbekova from the Ukraine. Austria’s Julia Fiser reached the same height and took the lead on countback. The same held true for Claudia Ghisolfi; the Italian climbed superbly to reach the same height as Fiser and then take the lead. This didn’t last long though, as Slovenia’s Tjasa Kalan took things a stage further, finally getting close to the top. Her miracle climb provided a ray of hope. And then it happened: Sweden’s Ottilia Kajsa Rosen clinched the long-awaited (and fully deserved) first top. It was as if a door had been opened, as her performance was immediately matched by France’s Julia Chanourdie. Then, to some surprise, Serbia’s Stasa Gejo (recently crowned Bouldering World Champion) fell low to place 10th overall. Out of the final. France’s Salomé Romain, the last of three to come out of isolation, climbed past Fiser and Ghisolfi to finish 6th. Anak Verhoeven didn’t want to take any risks (so to speak) and topped out, the third at this point. Many expected Austria’s Jessica Pilz (the provisional leader after the qualifiers) to top out. But it wasn’t to be, there was a real reason why so many had fallen off the route, evidently it wasn’t a walkover. And so the Austrian “only” managed to match Tjasia Kalan highpoint to confirm the Slovenian’s great performance. In the end those who qualified for the final were: Anak Verhoeven (BEL),  Julia Chanourdie (FRA), Ottilia Kajsa Rosen (SWE), Jessica Pilz (AUT), Tjasa Kalan (SLO), Salomé Romain (FRA), Claudia Ghisolfi (ITA), Julia Fiser (AUT).

by Vinicio Stefanello /

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