The venue was a new one on the bouldering circuit, and it proved to be a difficult one. The wall faced south-west and, much like a greenhouse, was under a transparent roof. To make things worse, the mats were dark. Incredible heat made the rounds that were carried out during the daytime almost unbearable for the athletes.
Similar to the Chongqing event, semi-finals were challenging. In the end Jernej Kruder made it back into finals after a 38th place last week-end. He was joined by Tomoa Narasaki, Chon Jongwon, Manu Cornu, Rei Sugimoto and Keita Watabe, who thus became the only man to always have made finals this season. Three Japanese ladies also made finals, Miho Nonaka, Aya Onoe and Mei Kotake, together with the two strongest women in Chongqing, Shauna Coxsey and Janja Garnbret. Finalist number 6 was the Korean lead specialist Jain Kim. Despite being known for her methodical, slow style from lead world cups, she proved the naysayers wrong and joined the Bouldering elite in finals. Several favourites had gotten sick during the week, among them were Anna Stöhr, Jakob Schubert and Alexey Rubtsov, who finished 8th, 37th and 23rd respectively, which also reflects how much they had recovered by the time it was time to compete.
The first problems set the pace for the rest of the final round. On the men's side M1 was a difficult slab with a move, where "closing the barn door" and keeping the equilibrium was the main issue. Tomoa Narasaki was out first and did the problem on his third try. His unique go-for-it-style was on display on the barn dorn move, which he got perfectly. The only one to do that move as well was Keita Watabe. He controlled the swing on the bonus with just 10 seconds left and matched the top hold a second before the time was up. On M2, everyone got the bonus straight away, but only Jernej Kruder and Keita Watabe got the top. His second top put Watabe in front.
The women's first problem was steep and dynamic, with the top hold screwed onto the final volume. Coxsey got the top after a few tries and Garnbret flashed the problem as if she was warming up. Nonaka failed to match the screw-on after she reached final volume and was denied her top by the judges. Time had run out, so she had to make up ground from the start to still take the win from Garnbret and Coxsey. Time also was an issue on W2, when Kotake's attempt ended on top with possibly a few seconds left, but how much exactly was anyone's guess, because every clock at the venue had jumped back to 4:00 at 00:12. She was allowed to retry for 2 minutes and it was disheartening. On her first attempt she fell off, on her second attempt, she tried her original method, but could not get the exact body position necessary to match the top.
The men behind Watabe seemed to have realized that they had to catch up and Narasaki got straight to work, doing M3 on his second attempt. Kruder had flashed M2 and took this dynamic to M3, which he did in great style. Watabe did not let go though, and took his third top like it was nothing. Cornu, Sugimoto and Chon did not manage to find their groove during finals and were not in the race for a spot on the podium when all eyes were on M4. Narasaki did what he could and flashed the problem. Kruder was thus sure to be third, independent of whether or not he would do M4. It was the first time he finished on the podium at a world cup. After entering finals in every competition this season, Watabe topped M4 and celebrated a well-deserved win (his first World Cup win ever) after being the only competitor to get four tops.
The scoreboard after W2 read 2T5 2B5 for Garnbret and 2T6 2B6 for Coxsey. On W3, Coxsey and Nonaka climbed the slabby, technical problem, while Garnbret did not find a helpful toe-catch. She needed the top to have everything in her own hands on W4, but it wasn't to be.
The podium spots were secured by Nonaka, Coxsey and Garnbret at this point, but who would win was open. Kim Jain did a figure-of-four on W4, resulting in a big "Ohhhh!" from the crowd, and partly made up for a disappointing final round. The physical problem did not stop Coxsey. With very impressive determination, she took the win. That W4 was not easy became very clear when Nonaka failed to top it. Garnbret managed to do it and finished the competition with a second place in front of Nonaka. Watabe and Coxsey also took the lead in the Bouldering World Cup ranking.
Two world records in Speed
Reza Alipourshenazandifar not only took the win, but also lowered the speed world record time down to 5:48, breaking Danyil Boldyrev's 2014 time of 5:60 after 3 years. Iullia Kaplina broke her own one-week-old record with a time of 7:38, winning the competition as well. With these times in their resume, it will be interesting to see who challenges them at the next speed world cup in Villars (SUI) in July.
1 ALIPOURSHENAZANDIFAR Reza IRI
2 SHIKOV Aleksandr RUS
3 DEULIN Vladislav RUS
1 KAPLINA Iuliia RUS
2 KRASAVINA Mariia RUS
3 JAUBERT Anouck FRA
1 WATABE Keita JPN 4t9 4b8
2 NARASAKI Tomoa JPN 3t6 4b7
3 KRUDER Jernej SLO 2t5 3b5
4 CHON Jongwon KOR 1t1 3b8
5 CORNU Manuel FRA 0t 3b3
6 SUGIMOTO Rei JPN 0t 3b4
1 COXSEY Shauna GBR 4t12 4b12
2 GARNBRET Janja SLO 3t7 3b7
3 NONAKA Miho JPN 2t6 4b15
4 KIM Jain KOR 1t5 2b11
5 ONOE Aya JPN 0t 3b8
6 KOTAKE Mei JPN 0t 1b3
20.000 FREIWILLIGE ARBEITSSTUNDEN
500 KG CHALK
Climb. Come together. Celebrate!