World Championships 2012
Mélanie Sandoz takes Gold !!
When it comes to the excitement one couldn’t ask for more. Women’s Bouldering event from the very beginning to the very end had all it took to deserve the name of a real championship battle. Among the girls who qualified into the final round we could not see either most prospective host’s representative Mélissa Le Nevé, or Alex Puccio or Juliane Wurm, the stars of this year’s adidas Rockstar event. One of the obvious favorites, Akiyo Noguchi, was also very close to miss the final.
According to the head routesetter, Jamie Cassidy, the final boulders were easier than the ones prepared for the semi-final. There was 7A to start with followed by three 7A+. One would think that this is way too easy for the World Championships but the routesetting posed enough problems to select a fully deserved World Champion.
The first warm-up boulder was relatively easy and consisted of a slight dyno and few smaller pyramid volumes with crimps on them. Both Mélanie Sandoz and Olga Iakovleva flashed it quickly and went back to the isolation zone. The third to come out was Akiyo Noguchi, who looked very nervous already at the backstage. She did not manage to calm the emotions down and topped out the boulder in the 2nd attempt. Next three competitors followed the example of Melanie and Olga and succeeded in flashing the boulder, although Cecile Avezou confused the penultimate hold with the top one, which almost ended up tragically.
The next boulder started with a double dyno and made the finalists move up right along a huge pyramid volume for the bonus hold and then higher, crimp after crimp, to the top hold. And here another flash for Sandoz, which set the bar pretty high for her opponents. Olga topped out in the second attempt and so did Akiyo, who decided not to bypass a tiny hold by means of a hand cross and instead of that changed her hands almost on every supersmall crimp. The first one to miss the top was Cecile Avezou going for the overall title. Seemed like the extra events took their toll. The boulder was also regarded as favoring taller finalists since Jain Kim, the shortest female competitor, laughing at herself, tried the initial dyno about hundred times and still to no effect. The boulder stopped Anna Stöhr for a while as well. The Austrian slipped while doing the hand change and sent the problem in her second attempt.
The penultimate problem graded 7A+ required composure in the first place as it included sloppy holds and a mantle on the volume. It took only two attempts for Sandoz, leading after first two boulders, to send this one. Akiyo struggling with her balance fell off having the top hold almost in front of her eyes. Cecile muscling up on nothing also managed to top out. Everybody waited for Anna Stöhr to come out. Surprisingly, the Austrian looked helpless as she was struggling to move from one almost non-existent hold to another and did not even have a chance to try the mantle. It became clear that if she was still thinking about winning she had to flash the last boulder.
Anna Stöhr struggling on the last boulder (photo: IFSC)
The final challenge, despite being graded only 7A+ looked like at least 8B in terms of mental pressure. Athletes presented two different approaches, static and dynamic, as they were approaching two huge scoop-like volumes. A tricky move to the bonus hold was followed by a powerful reach to a crimp. Jain Kim was the first to stick to bonus and eventually the only one athlete to top the whole thing out. The Austrian, being the defending Champion and expected to do more than her best had to make do with the bonus. But this bonus was enough to secure the bronze medal. Silver was taken by Olga Iakovleva. And as we wrote yesterday, Mélanie Sandoz has been getting stronger than ever. Her impressive performance of both physical and mental strength led the French athlete to her biggest sport achievement so far – Bouldering World Champion Title.
The Women's Bouldering podium (photo: IFSC)