In climbing I do things that I enjoy and want to do not the ones that are currently in fashion.
Muriel Sarkany
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Arco Rock Junior

The first two days of the legendary Arco Rock Master climbing event focused traditionally on the youngest competitors. According to the organizers, 220 kids from 17 countries took part in this year’s Rock Junior competition. Still, looking at the waves of green t-shirts running back and forth across the Arco arena one might have get the impression that there were at least three times more of them.

Green T-shirts are everywhere (photo: Piotr Dro¿d¿)

Apart from that, you should add all mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles and only then you get the complete picture of what was going on during these two days :-) Interestingly, the Italians, famous of their laid-back attitude, managed the chaos pretty well. However, the main editor of the portal, whom we met shortly after arriving at the stadium, commented on the course of the events with disarming honesty as follows: „I know nothing.”

The boulders were harder than they seemed and... (photo: Piotr Dro¿d¿)

The junior competitors from all over the world were traditionally put into three categories: Youth A (born in 1999-2000), Youth B (2001-2002) and Youth C (the youngest, born in 2003-2005). Everybody could also take part in three events: bouldering, lead and speed, however the lead comp focused mostly on the oldest category. The youngest competitors had to make do with the top-rope struggle, which didn’t mean that the emotions were less intense. One could easily see the tears of happiness or sorrow not only on the faces of young climbers but also their close relatives watching the action from the ground. One often got the impression that the parents are those who actually suffer the greatest stress and pressure during the whole competition since the kind themselves seemed to regard the event not as a matter of rivalry or life and death but simply as a sheer pleasure and fun. However, when it came to the best competitors, the focus, composure and the will of winning (obviously, in a positive sense) were quite visible.

...required both precision and flawless technique
(photo: Piotr Dro¿d¿)

Watching the competition carefully one could observe few prospective senior Rock Masters. The one who impressed us the most was petit Ai Mori, competing in the Youth C category. The Japanese totally outshone her rivals by winning in all three events. During the Speed contest she achieved the time result 1 s better than the following competitor. In the Lead event she seemed to not even notice any of the crux sequences and despite the fact that she barely reached the first holds of the boulder problems, once she grabbed them she stuck to every following hold till she topped out every single boulder. Seems like Japan has already got the proper successor of Hirayama, Koyamada and Noguchi.

Invincible Ai Mori - on the wall and...
(photo: Piotr Dro¿d¿)

...on the ground with her father
(photo: Piotr Dro¿d¿)

The other categories had their champions as well. In the Female Youth B group we could see invincible Laura Rogora, who similarly to Ai won all three events, whereas in the Male group (same category) it was Mirko Caballero who called the shots achieving the same result as Laura and Ai. In the case of the oldest categories it wasn’t easy to spot obvious favorites but one could easily notice the dominance of two national teams. In the general classification, the Italians and Slovenians won the package of the podium standings. The curiosity is the difficulty of the final route for the oldest kids that, as it is said, was graded somewhere around 7c+.

An aggressive hairdo as an alternative source of power
(photo: Piotr Dro¿d¿)

Focus and composure (photo: Piotr Dro¿d¿)

PS. From the very start, the number of men wearing blue t-shirts marked Policia was quite striking. Fortunately, their job was not to fine young competitors for excessive speed during the Speed event but to fulfill the role of the Rock Junior belayers, which, as we found out later, is already a sort of tradition. Nice as it may be it did not protect us from getting a parking ticket :-)

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