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IFSC Lead World Cup – Briançon

During the last weekend the eyes of the world’s climbing scene turned to Briançon, the highest city in the European Union and the location of the 2012 second edition of the IFSC World Cup in lead climbing.

The surprises that had started the previous week in Chamonix continued throughout the whole event. After the qualification round there were eight female climbers and only one male climber who topped out both of the routes, needless to say that it was Ramón Julian Puigblanque and it seemed like he really outshone his rivals in terms of strength and experience.

It seemed like the qualifications did not make the routesetters to draw some conclusions regarding the routes’ difficulty since the semi-final problem appeared to be too hard even for the master Julian and it ended up unbeatable. The same happened in the women’s category. The last dyno to the top hold made four girls fall and this way achieve 55+ result. The other four female finalists ended the semi-final route two holds earlier, which gave them the result of 53+. The biggest surprise of the event was the absence of Jain Kim in the final eight and the one to blame for this is the time limit. Dinara Fakhritdinova of Russia had to face the same problem and despite the fact that both girls achieved the results that would put them in the final they had watch it with the audience. Also later on, the time issue was to have a decisive voice when it comes to the final standings.

For the final challenge routesetters prepared long and extremely varied in terms of holds lines with massive moves along the volumes in the overhanging and tricky traverses in the higher parts. Despite looking impressive from the ground, in the end, both of the final routes appeared to be less demanding than they’d seemed to the competitors. Out of the eight female finalists five reached the top hold of the 8b line – Momoka Oda (JPN), Mina Markovic (SLO), Charlotte Durif (FRA), Johanna Ernst (AUS) and Hélène Janicot (FRA). Since the last two achieved exactly the same results throughout the whole competition, once again the time was taken into account, which gave Janicot her first victory in the senior Lead WC. Ernst ended up #2 and Durif took bronze. The greatest loser in the women’s category, Slovenian Mina Markovic, did not hide her disappointment: „The routes were great, I really liked them but to me the final line was even easier than the one of the qualification problems. I don’t know if it is exciting to see five tops in the final and with all the respect I have for the routesetters, that’s not how the final route should look like.” Bitter words but be that as it may, one more time Mina proved to be right (she said almost the same after last year’s final WC edition in Barcelona).

Johanna vs Time - 0:1 (photo: Giulio Malfer)

Controversies did not save the men’s final as well. Looking poor in the semi-final, Jakob Schubert showed that he really deserved his place in the final eight. He was reaching smoothly the higher sections of the route and being very close to the top and looking pretty comfortable he timed out and had to finish his climb. Ramón Julian, who after his manifesto of strength and power both in the qualifications and in the semis was an obvious pretendent to gold, had to face a massive dyno in the traverse section. Unfortunately, the move appeared to be just too powerful for the only 160 cm tall Spaniard and afterwards was considered unfair by all of the competitors. The problem of height and time was solved by Sachi Amma. While it is true that the Japanese did not reach the top, the hold numbered 53th was enough to secure the gold medal. The 2nd position was taken by Sean McColl of Canada and the 3rd by Jakob Schubert.

Sean McColl - this time #3
(photo: Heiko Wilhelm)

After the WC edition in Briançon many questions arised regarding the time limit. Although it may be useful in the qualification round and questionably in the semis, a lot of competitors argue that the rule should be withdrawn in the final, especially if the final route is so long as it was in Briançon.

And what do you think?

The next WC edition in lead climbing is scheduled for August 10 and 11 and will take place in Imst, this time, hopefully, without time controversies.

The complete results are available at the IFSC website:

women ->

men ->

For the 2012 competition calendar click here:

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